I recently attended a writing conference in Surrey, British Columbia. One of the many helpful workshops was given by Dr. Kim Foster. Kim Foster is a suspense author as well as a practicing physician.
One of her workshops was How To Kill Your Characters Correctly. Who could resist? Certainly not me. That’s how I’m able to regale you with some interesting facts.
CPR and Defibrillation (Prepare to be traumatized.)
- CPR is generally not very successful. I know. Downer. (Probably because people administer it incorrectly and do not stick with it long enough.) In Emergency Rooms resuscitative efforts last a really long time. Like an hour.
- The purpose of CPR is to keep the blood flowing. It. Does. Not. Bring. You Back. To. Life.
- It’s not pretty. If done right you can count on cracked ribs.
- Defibrillation shocks the heart into stopping with the hope of resetting it. You would never use it on a heart that has not stopped beating. So when you’re watching the TV and the hospital cardiac monitor flatlines? There’s no pulling out the paddles and yelling clear.
Turns out your character will survive despite that bullet lodged in her shoulder. No need to dig it out with a penknife. Unless your character is a trauma surgeon in the possession of sterilized equipment and knockout drugs. Then go for it. Otherwise, chances are your character will live another day. The heat from the bullet actually helps cauterize the wound and helps prevent infection. Then it’s off to the hospital once they’ve escaped or been rescued from the desert, the cave, the haunted house, or the rodent-infested warehouse.
We talked about comas, knife wounds, poisons, and deadly infections. It was delightful.
Some helpful links:
Lab Tests Online (A public resource for information on lab tests and diseases.)
Med Terms (A medical dictionary for laypeople.)
The Writer’s Forensics Blog (Written by DP Lyle, MD)
For me, it’s usually a case of ignorance is bliss. But I also trust the author has done their research. What about you? Does it need to be probable? Or will possible do?