Tuesday, 30 October 2007

A mixed bag

Eight emergencies; one hoax, one refused, on treated on scene and the rest required an ambulance.

First call of the shift was for a drunken youth. He and his mates (one of whom had dialled 999) thought he needed an ambulance because he couldn’t or wouldn’t walk in a straight line. I arrived in Regent Street at the location given but saw no patient. A voice from behind me prompted me to turn around as I searched for this elusive 21 year-old and his friends.

‘Are you here for the drunk fellow?’ a man asked. He was coming out of the shop in which he worked.

‘Yes...and his friends I believe’, I replied.

‘Well, they left. They dragged him away with them.’

I could have looked shocked or concerned but I was neither. People who call us for their inebriated mates often leave the scene when they can’t be bothered waiting any longer. They hoist their fallen comrade up between them and haul him or her away. Sometimes we never see or hear from them again, which means that they did the sensible thing and took him/her home in a taxi. Home is where the heart is, after all. And the sick bucket.

On this occasion I was to see them again. I told Control that I thought this was a ‘Gone Before Arrival’ and they acknowledged that but just as I was about to leave after completing my paperwork, a young lad sprang down the road and waved his arms at me frantically.

‘He’s up there. We moved him’, he panted.

‘Why did you go away? Couldn’t you have at least called us back and let us know?’

I wasn’t happy with them. Calling an ambulance and then leaving the scene without informing us is more than bad manners; it smacks of indifference.

I drove up into Oxford Street and saw a police officer with three or four men, one of whom was lying on the ground at a bus stop. He had vomited a little and was groaning away to himself. His friends looked tired and fed up – the two qualities you commonly detect in sober mates who have just had to drag a wasted friend along the streets.

Initially I wanted to have a go at them all for wasting emergency services time but the little I did say fell on deaf ears. They weren’t interested. So I turned their mate onto his side and waited until the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital.

Chest pain can come and go. It can mean nothing and it can mean everything, that’s why it is better to get it checked out, regardless of your medical history or how well you may feel. I am, of course, talking about genuine chest pain – the kind that worries you.

My next call was for a 40 year-old man with chest pain. It had come on suddenly but disappeared by the time I arrived. He still looked very pale and sweaty though and, although he had no past history of cardiac problems, his ECG wasn’t quite right, so he was taken to hospital just in case.

The crew were arriving at the same time as me when I got to my next call – a 67 year-old female with back and abdominal pains, so I wasn’t required but I picked up a hoax call immediately after pressing the GREEN button on my screen. The caller didn’t identify himself and the line went dead on ring-back, so I was sent there in case it was a genuine emergency. I arrived to find an empty callbox and a few suspicious looking kids hanging around watching me. Half term can be fun for everyone.

A lovely 53 year-old lady with DIB and tingling in her arms and legs next. She was very pale and clammy but didn’t have any particular health problems to relate her present condition to. She had called initially with dizziness and palpitations and if she had been hyperventilating it may have been easier to diagnose but she wasn’t so she was taken to hospital.

My next call was given as a '44 year-old male, dizzy now unconscious'. He was conscious when I arrived – he may have fainted earlier but nobody mentioned him having blacked out at all. He was an alcoholic and had a long history of liver disease. His family were concerned because he had started to vomit blood and his abdomen was swollen. I felt over the right side and his liver was quite prominent – not a good sign because it indicates swelling of the organ – more than likely due to his chronic condition. This could be fatal for him and it was clear he should be in hospital.

Over to London Bridge and a call for a 60 year-old man who was found unconscious in the street. A few people were milling around, including an irritating alcoholic who insisted on ‘helping’ me out. The others were being very kind to the old man lying on the ground. I say old because he wasn’t 60 – he was 91. He was a Japanese man and didn’t speak any English. I asked a couple of passers-by to help me translate. The two girls I stopped just happened to be Japanese too, so they were very useful in finding out why the man had collapsed in the street.

I learned that he was a tourist and frequently visited London. He had been walking all day (he showed me his little step-counter and it read 36,000) and had collapsed (he reckoned) because of sheer exhaustion. He had cut his head when it hit the kerb but he hadn’t been unconscious. There were cuts to his mouth and nose too and he couldn’t explain them so I considered the possibility that he had fallen earlier. Maybe he fell a lot more than he remembered.

I told the crew what I knew when they arrived and the translation continued to see if he could be persuaded to go to hospital but he absolutely refused. His wishes were respected in the end and he was taken to his hotel instead. Hopefully he will have an uneventful stay. We were all amazed at how young he looked; he didn't look 91 - I wonder if that's a Japanese thing?

Finally, a 73 year-old diabetic man with a BM of 1.8 and a very worried family.

‘Usually he takes care of himself’, his wife said as I entered the house.

I gave him Glucogel and he responded rapidly, recovering to 4.4 within ten minutes. I left him with his loved ones; he had crackers, cheese and chocolate cake to work through, so, unless I wanted to be seen salivating over his food, I thought it best to beat a retreat. It was nearly time for me to go home and get my own dinner anyway.

Be safe.


Anonymous said...

Hello: I love ur blog and read it loads. Just so you know, your link on the left to the police-locker-room is a bit wrong:

you need to take off the >>>/tp://<<< at the end.

I hope u don't mind me pointing out this little typo!

Anyways, keep doing your top work and let's hope u have less drunk assh*les!

Xf said...


Many thanks - that was a long time before anyone noticed. My mistake. Now fixed. Apologies to my blogging comrade!

Anonymous said...

hey paramedic, I am a tertiary student from singapore.Happened to see ur blog when researching on paramedic. I enjoy reading ur blog. =)
Can I ask, do u work alone? why do u have to wait for ur other ambulance crew to arrive when attending to calls?
And that yellow car in the picture,is it yours or it belongs to the ambulance service?

Xf said...


Yes, I work alone. I have to wait for a crew to show up so that the patient can be transported to hospital, or if I need help from colleagues (such as with a resus).

If I can take the patient to hospital myself I can cancel the ambulance.

The yellow car belongs to my employer, thankfully!

Anonymous said...

ooh, i see.haha.In my country, our ambulance service only has ambulance and FRP(fast response paramedic) on bike. No cars.