A Day in the Pet ER

From a Technician’s Perspective

Emergency practice is completely different from the day practice. The animals in the hospital are usually very sick or severely injured. You become so close to the animals because your primary job is to care for them. You know that each animal is part of a family and it is up to you to get them back home.

At the beginning of each day I review cases, make sure that every animal in the hospital is as comfortable as possible and has everything it needs. I get the hospital ready for any emergency that could arrive. When the doorbell rings the day begins.

The receptionist rushes back to inform the technicians that a hit by car is up front and a gurney is needed. You never know what to expect when you reach the animal. A collie mix lies in the bed of a truck struggling to breathe through the blood covering her face. We place the pet onto the gurney and immediately take her to the back for oxygen. Reviewing her wounds leads us to believe that it was not a car that caused the damage. X-rays are taken immediately; they reveal that she was shot several times in her face and once in her chest. We place her in the ICU, starting IV fluids and oxygen to keep her stable. Although she had pain medication she lays lateral taking deep long breaths. Though this case tugged on our hearts there was another being examined that was just as critical.

An eighteen-year old sheep dog had an unfortunate encounter with her sister, the Rottweiler. There were several lacerations and punctures. The worst lied under her tail where we found her rectum severely torn. A technician is assigned to her and helps get her stable and comfortable.

The rooms are full with other cases that also need to be seen. A technician is taking care of the ICU as another assists the doctor with rooms. Blood tests and X-rays are done on most of the animals to help further diagnose their problems. Though the animal may just be vomiting it can be a serious medical problem, and if it is not taken care of today it could be life threatening. Some of the animals in rooms are hospitalized for monitoring and fluid administration. Catheters need to be placed, cages need to be set up, blood work and X-rays need to performed. The technicians are spread thin as more cases come through the door. The receptionist tried her hardest to answer questions on the phone and assist the technicians while the doctors concentrate on diagnosis. Everything is completed in a timely manner as the animals rest in their cages.

My shift has ended. Emotionally and physically exhausted, I check over the ICU one last time. I see that the collie that had been shot is sitting up and wagging her tail. Seeing her up and feeling better, the pet that I helped save, makes all of my efforts worthwhile and leaves me with a strong sense of accomplishment and a small piece of happiness at the end of my day.

Registered Veterinary Technician

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