Wednesday, 14 February 2007

Frequent flyers

A night of rain, rain and yet more rain. In fact, it rained all night and well into the morning. Wouldn't you know it, most of the calls were outside, so I got wet a few times. Thank goodness for my over-sized yellow hood.

I met a new frequent flyer too. He called us for 'chest pain' and when I got on scene, he was smoking a fag and wandering about. He saw me and directed me over to him. He smelled bad and he kept spitting on me when he spoke, so I politely asked him to stand a little further away so I could assess him from a safe distance. He was complaining that he had angina pains but had lost all his meds. I noticed that he had a hospital gown on and that rang alarm bells with me. I waited with him for ten minutes and an ambulance arrived. The crew knew him and I was told that he was abusive at times and had been thrown out of hospital earlier for racist remarks directed at the hospital staff.

It was decided not to convey him because, true to form, he became abusive to us too and wandered off with a foul mouth and a bad attitude (neither of which are treatable or curable).

Later on I received a call for an 'assault with chest pain' at another underground station. I saw the age of the caller and it matched my friend from the previous abusive call. I thought it might be one and the same person as I sped off to the job. The police arrived just ahead of me and as I pulled up, I could see my new friend standing with the Underground staff in the station, which isn't even open at that time in the morning! I let the police know that he was trouble and they gave him a new set of rules to live by and sent him on his way.

I saw him again later on, standing at the entrance to the hospital. I mentally wished him good luck with trying to get in.

Ironically, at the beginning of my shift I was called to an 'asthma attack' in a fast food restaurant and found another frequent flyer at the table, feeling sorry for himself. I have had the pleasure of this man's company on quite a few ambulance trips to hospital for phantom illnesses and so I recognised him immediately (even if I couldn't remember his name). I did my bit and checked him out, after cancelling the ambulance, and discovered that his asthmatic wheeze became more pronounced when I put a stethoscope to his chest. Strange phenomenon.

I took him to hospital (what can you do?) and he found a warm bed to sit on for a few hours before they finally and inevitably get fed up with him and send him home. At least he wasn't abusive.

I got an early morning call to a drunk with a head injury and sped off to the location only to find that he had gone back to his hotel and wrapped himself up in bed for the night. Best check, I thought, so I went up to his room with a member of staff and lightly tapped on his door. He confirmed (through the closed door) that he was alright and declined an ambulance. Not required. Off I went.

Maybe not a funny moment, unless you count a wry smile at the cheek of it, but as I sat in the car at traffic lights in Oxford Street, I saw a woman stagger into a shop doorway and begin to undress her lower half. There were people around but she didn't seem to care. It is rare to see a woman go for a pee in public (well, maybe not rare but unusual) and as she surreptitiously squatted down I moved along swiftly in case I was branded for life by the memory! I'm sure the CCTV guys have got a 'You've been framed' moment to cash in on now.

So, a steady and routine sort of shift. I did have a couple of calls that required hospital treatment, including a severe DIB, but it was an evenly paced night for me and I'm glad of that because I needed it.

Be safe.


andyc said...

Great site and was glad to see someone had beat me to a site like this. I have started a site for the Calltakers/Dispatch element of the Paramedical/Ambulance Service in the North West of Engalnd @

Xf said...

andyc - I'll pop over and have a look. Thanks for the comment.

Trainee Paramedic said...

Hey there, I cant believe that a woman went to the loo in a door way, it's bad enough when a man does if but for me it seems worse being a woman. Where are the police with the fines when you actually want them! What is a DIB that you mention?

Xf said...


DIB = Difficulty in breathing said...

Never meant to upset you with my comments, just wanted to point out that not everyone who appears to be drunk is in fact under the influence! I have MS and diabetes so often can appear to be drunk when in fact my mobility and speech is affected by either or both of these conditions. Having said that, please keep up the journal, as an ex-nurse (can you believe retired on ill-health grounds at just 42!!)i do appreciate the work that you do, often under the most difficult of circumstances and people do need to be made more aware. On a lighter note, i take a certain amount of vicarious pleasure, keeps me in touch with a job i loved and though i say it myself, that i was b****y good at.

Xf said...


Don't remember you ever upsetting me...

And you are, of course, correct. I try NEVER to assume but you get to know the faces of some of the 'regulars' and my better-in-the-know colleagues will point them out to me from time to time.

I hope I never come across as flippant when it comes to any of my calls, drunk or not. I treat them all the same.

Anonymous said...

It funny when you find your regulars in new places. I was in another region's A&E, a considerable distance from my base one, when I spotted one of our daily regulars. In fact I was so surprised I began pointing thro' the glass partition and babbling like a eejit to the staff who began regarding me with that special look they reserve for the insane while they wait for the police/psychiatrist to arrive.

It turns out this other A&E was on his regular daily tour and neither unit knew the other was hosting his visits because of the distance which even in a car is a fair jaunt.

I was tempted to go and speak to him a) for the fright value of him realising I had found another one of his hide outs and b) to see if he had actually discovered time travel as he really did manage to cover a hell of a lot more ground in a day than I could manage. In the end I reckoned voluntarily getting close to his personal aroma and the fact he'd be in my own unit the next morning meant it was best to leave well alone.

Never did remember to ask him about the time travel thing....


Anonymous said...

I'm curious about ...getting thrown out of a hospital for racist remarks....

Am I correct in assuming the patient was not in need of medical treatment (or had refused)?

~ShyAsrai from the US~

PS: interesting blog!