Edit: As of March 2015, I am no longer employed by VMware.
I will never forget the horror, desperation and gratitude I felt this Friday afternoon. Thank the Lord for guiding me through it all.
What am I talking about? My first emergency medical experience at VMware.
I was getting out of my 1:1 manager meeting, walking back towards the office. I noticed a young guy (turns out to be the same age as me) stumbling along the wall.
I asked, “Are you okay?”
He shook his head and was heaving. He had difficulty breathing.
“I’m going to get help!” I remember saying, just before I sprinted down a few hallways to the receptionist and asked her to call 911.
Then I helped my co-worker sit in a chair. He told me he was experiencing sudden chest pains near his sternum and his muscles felt like they were spazzing out. I asked him if there is someone I can reach out to while the ambulance was on the way. He gave me his wife’s phone number. She didn’t answer. So I left a voicemail.
Time seems to be excruciatingly slow when you’re waiting for emergency services. But I kept talking to the guy, learned his name, asked him if he had any medications or history that may have caused this situation. When he groaned louder, I reassured him that I was still here with him.
He said the room was spinning. That’s when I started getting really scared. Was this going to be the first time I see someone die? He’s my age! He has a wife. My mind was racing and I prayed silently. I also cursed to myself for not paying more attention during CPR training classes.
Fortunately, I never had to give CPR as the ambulance came. The medical personnel started asking the same questions and I gave them all the notes I wrote down. They were conducting tests on him and the room started getting crowded. They gave him an oxygen mask and he seemed more calm. I felt there wasn’t much else I could do so I quietly left.
When I got back to my desk. I couldn’t concentrate. I kept seeing my co-worker’s face. He was in agony. So I looked up his name in our company’s Intranet. Then I realized that his direct manager and co-workers may want to know of his whereabouts. Didn’t want them to think this guy was deliberating ignoring them.
After several phone calls with one of his teammates, I learned “Rob” (let’s call him that – I’m assuming there’s gotta be some privacy/safety HIPAA protocol for not identifying hospital patients publicly), was visiting from out-of-state to provide training. That meant Rob had no permanent office here in Palo Alto. His colleagues finally got in touch with him and told me he was in the local hospital’s ER waiting room with his phone. The fact that he was communicating seemed to suggest he was feeling better.
I also learned none of Rob’s teammates worked in Palo Alto. So I asked a teammate for his cell phone in case he’d like someone to gather his belongings and drop them off at the hospital. At the very least, I assumed he’d need a phone charger.
After several text exchanges, I found out my new friend may be suffering from a blood clot. I told him I’d pray for him. He requested me to look for the people he was training with. So I went snooping around and interrupted a few meetings to inform them of Rob’s condition – they had no idea why he was absent. And since they were all visitors from out-of-state too, they didn’t know who to contact or reach out to.
After packing up my Rob’s stuff up from an empty conference room, a random VMware employee demanded to know what I was doing. He thought I was stealing equipment. At least we have good eyes on campus for any suspicious behavior.
In the end, my new friend expressed his gratitude and his belongings are secure with our security staff. Considering all that happened, it ended up being a happy Friday. I raced home to hug my kids and my wife. I realized that freakish moments like this can happen to anyone at any time. Rob, for example, is an experienced and physically fit martial artist (another thing I learned while talking to his team). Even when we do everything right and stay disciplined with our exercise, we never know when our last day on earth is until it actually happens. Makes me think. And appreciate.