Josh Michaels

Every week I volunteer at a nearby hospital. I have been volunteering there since December of my junior year. I do a variety of tasks at the hospital that range from discharging patients, or escorting them out of the hospital, to delivering flowers. Most of what I do is basic, which makes sense because I am a highschooler and not a trained professional.

During one of my recent shifts at the hospital I was asked to run an interesting errand. My shift leader told me that somebody needed to be escorted to the emergency room. She told me they were visiting someone who was currently in the ER. I was also told I did not need to bring a wheelchair because the person was “okay to walk”. To me this errand already raised major red flags. If he could walk, and was not a patient, he should have been able to get directions and find the ER. The volunteers at the hospital, as far as I am aware, do not escort healthy people across the hospital. They give directions, and can help people find their way, but being sent out for the sole purpose of taking a visitor to another part of the hospital is strange. It was odd, but the person was still in need of assistance, which is all that really matters. I walked through the hospital and took the elevator up to the room. On the floor I was quickly approached by two nurses who seemed overly concerned for a visitor who was supposedly healthy. I heard one of the nurses murmur “why doesn't he have a chair”. The nurses approached and informed me what was actually happening. The visitor was not healthy, and he was not wanting to visit someone in the ER. The person was having a stroke.

The brain receives a large portion of the bodies blood flow, approximately a fifth of the total blood supply. To put this into perspective the body circulates 2000 gallons of blood every day. The brain, therefore, receives 400 gallons. The brain is responsible for everything a person does, think’s, and everything else. Someone can have a heart transplant, but if a similar procedure is done with the brain the individual will die within seconds. A stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is interrupted. It is like a heart attack for the brain, but much worse, since it interrupts the activity of the organ. The worst part of a stroke is the after effects. If a stroke does not kill the individual, they are often left disabled in some way. The most severe strokes can leave the individual paralyzed, and unable to talk. Other functions can also be either limited or nonexistent after a stroke.

I was fully aware of the severity of a stroke when the nurses told me about the patient. Although I was annoyed by the lack of communication with the volunteer office, and that it could have resulted in the individual’s death, I immediately grabbed a wheelchair from a side room, and rushed to get the patient to the E.R.

It is always good to be ready for anything. In the short term, things rarely go according to plan. Being prepared for a situation that is unexpected is a vital skill to have.