Eight emergency calls; one assist-only, one hoax, one conveyed and five taken by ambulance, including a running call.
My day started out with a number of frustrating cancellations, some of which had me running for a few minutes before I was stood down. Sirens off, light off, sorry I split the traffic up – ‘false alarm, go about your business...nothing to see hear’. Road users hate me for this, I’m sure.
When I did get a call to run on, I wasn’t required. The 66 year-old man with chest pain had an ambulance crew in attendance when I arrived.
I fared better on my next call, which was to a 46 year-old female cyclist who had been knocked off her ride by a van, probably a white van, which promptly left the scene. She had a thigh injury and could barely walk or put weight on it and I was on scene long enough to chat to her but my hopes of affecting a rescue were dashed by the presence of another ambulance, already on scene. I don’t know why they call me sometimes. I wasn’t required, of course.
I met a lovely, if badly made-up, old woman outside the station today. She leaves biscuits for us every now and then. I think she had just bought a cheap batch because she left biscuits every day during my three day ‘tour of duty’. Either that or she thought I was looking a bit thin.
If she finds the station unoccupied (and hopefully locked) she leaves them on the windscreen, or wheel arch of the nearest ambulance. It’s only a matter of time before a crew take a vehicle out on an emergency, not knowing that there is a packet of biscuits secreted on the wheel, hear the crunch as it goes under and sit there, shocked in the belief that they have just run over the neighbour’s cat. Mind you, that thing is so fat it would probably make more of a pop, followed by a slushy squishing sound (I can hear it in my mind, even if I can’t describe it well).
I sat on stand-by in Trafalgar Square and was approached by a dizzy looking man who pointed twice, motioned to his head and then collapsed onto the car. I jumped out, looked for a dent and then looked at him, crumpled at the side of the vehicle.
‘What’s wrong with you?’ I asked.
He said nothing but signalled that he spoke no English. He was clearly drunk. I went for broke with my next question.
‘Are you Russian?’
He understood that and nodded. It almost never fails. It only backfires when they turn out to be Polish, Lithuanian or Bulgarian. If they’re English, they swear at you first, thus establishing an accent and possible country of origin. If they’re Scottish, they announce it to you – ‘I’m Scottish!’ and the connection is immediately established and if they are Irish or Welsh, they generally keep it to themselves until they have no choice but to speak.
He couldn’t or wouldn’t make himself understood, so I called an ambulance for him and hoped I wasn’t letting the team down. He had a bruised face, so I guess he had been hit at some point and when the crew arrived they too assumed he had been assaulted. There was nothing life-threatening going on here but, as a street person, he probably thought I was his only point of refuge. I guess I was.
From there I was asked to assist a crew that had been on scene with a lung cancer patient who had recently had a lung removed (pneumonectomy). They needed a working ECG monitor because theirs had given up on them. I ran (not literally) down there and went into the flat to find the patient in bed, looking very ill. He was on his last few days (or weeks) I think and had already refused to go to hospital. His acute deterioration had been expected by his doctor and we were there to try to make him breathe easier because right now his lung was filling with fluid.
My colleagues on scene were taking care of things and I was simply asked to set up the ECG and to consider the administration of drugs to help him with his present dyspnoea. After looking at the results of the ECG and carefully listening to his chest, I suggested we use GTN and Frusemide. He was on oxygen but very little of it was getting to his remaining lung, so we had to clear the fluid from in there to allow more of the good stuff to go around. It was a matter of patient comfort and perhaps of buying him a little more time.
We got on with it and within ten minutes of giving him what he needed, his breathing had improved, sats were higher and he was smiling again. He still had a bit of a rattle to his breathing but it was much quieter than I had heard earlier.
I shook his hand, said goodbye and left the crew with him to go to a 19 year-old female who was vomiting at a tube station. Again, a crew were already on scene, discussing possible food poisoning with her and I wasn’t required. I really was the spare part of the ambulance service today.
A hoax call from a phone box outside a railway station next. I want to catch this nutter in the act and have him arrested. He calls every week, at least three times a week and will often demand all of the emergency services. He only ever gets one – the ambulance service.
My last job was for a 62 year-old male who had fallen earlier in the day on his way to work. He had burst his lip when he hit the ground and had recovered initially. Now, his bosses were concerned about him because he had fallen off a stool at work and was continually dizzy. When I looked at him, he seemed pale and a little disorientated. I wondered if he had suffered an event, like a stroke, which made him fall earlier, or he had a head injury as the result of the fall.
His condition certainly warranted closer investigation, so he was taken to hospital by ambulance.
During my stand-by period on Trafalgar Square, the ‘London Week of Peace’ concert was taking place. The idea of this is to discourage young black men from using guns and knives to settle scores. I mentally wished them good luck, whilst cynically doubting their effect on the gangs of south London.
There was also a protest taking place, next to my car, against the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. As part of the demo, they had a young girl dressed in an orange jumpsuit - with a black hood over her head - kneeling in the ‘stress position’ used on detainees as a means of breaking their spirits by inducing painful physical fatigue. Bearing in mind what this is actually used for; an older man (the boss man I presumed) went up to her and adjusted her position, forcing her to kneel in the proper manner, legs crossed behind her, so that the physical effects became real.
She lasted five minutes before tearing the hood off and storming away in a huff.