Six emergencies. All of them went to hospital by ambulance.
A shift clear of timewasters. How unusual.
It all started with a 35 year-old female who had been hit by a motorbike as she crossed the road. An ambulance was ahead of me because my navigation system decided to send me down the wrong road and I spent a minute or so correcting the mistake. By the time I arrived there was a police presence and the crew had organised themselves on scene.
At first I couldn’t see anyone hurt. All I saw was the back of an ambulance and one of my colleagues chatting to a leather-clad motorcyclist on the pavement as the police looked on. His crew mate was walking back to the ambulance but there was no hurry in his stride. I took this to mean that the call wasn’t as given and that nobody had been injured, so I called my Control and told them I wasn’t required but it was a hasty move. I got out of the car on instinct and looked around. In front of the ambulance, out of sight, was another vehicle – this ambulance was protecting a woman on the ground and the crew were attending to her. I walked over to see if I could help and I was asked to put the collar on. She wasn’t badly hurt and all of this was precautionary but I should have taken a little more time about surveying the scene before assuming it was clear for me to leave. Too early in the morning for me I think.
It wasn’t essential for me to be there. The other crew were around and I was just an extra pair of hands but I mucked in because that’s what we do if we can. The woman was crying and clearly upset about her current situation but physically she seemed fine.
‘What day is it today?’ one of my colleagues asked. He was trying to assess her for possible mental impairment (we do that for head injuries as a matter of routine).
‘Oh, isn’t it nearly valentine’s day?’ she replied, sobbing and trying to laugh at the same time.
‘Do you have a valentine?’ I asked her. She was a pretty woman so I was expecting a positive reply, thus cheering her up with the thought of an impending celebration (you know, cards, flowers, chocolates).
‘No’, she said. It wasn’t the reply I had been expecting. It surprised all of us and it left me with nothing positive to say because the follow up to that eluded me at first. So I just said something lame and useless like ‘I can’t believe that.’
As they packed her into the ambulance and calmed her down (I don’t know if I set her off again or she was going to start up again anyway) I asked my MRU friend to let me have a piece of paper. I scribbled out a make-shift valentine’s ‘card’ from all of us in the LAS and handed it to her. She beamed and so I think I was forgiven. I had written ‘Happy valentine’s day from the LAS’. I think I drew a flower on it for her. I can’t remember but it would have been badly drawn if I did.
A 15 year-old school girl with severe D&V next. She had suddenly started throwing up in class and was now sitting on the loo with unstoppable diarrhoea. I had to assess her while she sat there. The poor girl was a mess – pale, sweaty and miserable looking. The way you tend to look when your body is trying to dry you up completely. She obviously had an infection, probably a bacterial one.
The crew took her to the ambulance as soon as she felt safe to come off the loo. At least throughout the drama she was well covered by her school uniform, so there was never an inappropriate moment for us to deal with. Two members of school staff were there also and one of them accompanied her to hospital. We prefer not take to take minors without a chaperone.
During the 20 minute wait as she purged herself, children queued up to get in. The teachers shooed them away but they just kept coming. Not surprisingly, as soon as it had gone round the school that there was a paramedic treating someone in the girl's toilets, every teenage female in the building suddenly needed to go. I'd like to support my ego by believeing that it was me they were coming to look at but they were just being nosey and, typically, enjoying the sight of one of their own in some distress. Compared to that, an ambulance crew really isn't that big a deal.
As I returned to my station, I was approached by a man who said someone was having a heart attack down the road in a nearby estate. I called it in as a running call and asked if the MRU paramedic, who I knew was in the station, could join me in case I needed an extra pair of hands.
The 80 year-old man was lying in the car park of the estate, groaning in pain. There were several people with him, including his neighbour.
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘He was shouting at the workmen in one of the flats because he’s had enough of the noise. He got really wound up then clutched at his chest and said he was having a heart attack’, the neighbour replied.
Apparently, the workmen were renovating a flat which had recently been bought and they had been knocking, banging, crashing and drilling for weeks, every day, ten hours a day. The old man hadn’t slept properly for most of that time and he had snapped when he went out to remonstrate with them. As he stood below the window of the flat, shaking his fists and screaming abuse at the builders, his angina had kicked in.
I gave him GTN and an aspirin and within a few minutes the pain had eased. His wife joined us with a concerned look but she was more interested in telling him off for not having his spray with him. He was taken to hospital but he will probably have been discharged a few hours later. He’ll be fit to fight again soon.
A long run up into the north for a 50 year-old man who had been hit by a bus. It took me ten minutes to get there but there was nobody closer. When I got on scene, the police were chatting to a man with a cut head. He had been struck across the forehead by the bus as it pulled in – he had been too close to the edge of the kerb and had paid the price. Luckily for him, he was only slightly damaged. The crew were on scene soon after I started getting the handover from the police and I passed him on to them immediately. He was a walking, talking minor injury.
Another D&V. This time a 26 year-old male but this call was given as ‘chest pain’ for some reason. He had all the same problems as the schoolgirl earlier and was taken to hospital accordingly. There’s not much I can do for a patient like that unless he is so severely dehydrated that fluids are required but he’d have to be in a state of near hypovolaemia (fluid loss shock) for me to consider such an intervention when a short trip to hospital would speed up the management of his condition.
My final call took me to a tube station where a 60 year-old lady had fallen down the steps and hurt her hip. To me it looked like it could be fractured. She couldn’t put weight on the leg on the injured side without crying out in pain and she was one of those stoical types, so I had to assume she was feeling a lot more pain than she was demonstrating emotionally. She refused the offer of pain relief and was even refusing to go to hospital, so the crew were left to persuade her without bullying her too much. It was important that she went and got that hip checked out because, as she had told me earlier, there was a familial history of osteoporosis and she was currently taking calcium supplements.
One of the crew looked to be in some discomfort herself and when I asked her if she was okay she told me that when she arrived and got out of the ambulance, a taxi clipped her shoulder blade with its wing mirror as it pulled away. She ran after it and shouted through his window at the driver.
‘You just hit me, do you know that?’
‘Yeah, I know’, he allegedly replied. The he promptly drove away without another word, least of all an apology. Technically, this is still a hit and run and I was disgusted by what she told me. Now she was unfit to carry the patient up the stairs to the ambulance and would probably have great difficulty finishing her shift without endangering herself.
I offered to help with the lift when the patient finally agreed to go to hospital and we got her upstairs without a problem. My injured colleague had taken the cab’s registration number, so hopefully she has now reported the incident.
As I prepared to leave the scene a middle-aged lady asked me to check her blood pressure because she had just been insulted by a ‘foreign person’ and was worried about her health. She was clearly well-to-do and carried an air of authority. She spoke with a posh accent but that didn’t mean she was completely well and her behaviour suggested emotional problems. She was on the verge of tears with every word she spoke.
I checked her blood pressure at the roadside and it was a little high.
‘Its fine but you should go and see your G.P. tomorrow and get a second opinion just to make sure’, I suggested. I figured the slight elevation in pressure was down to her current emotional state but I wasn’t going to stand in the street and tell her something that would most likely send her over the edge of whatever imaginary tall building she was on top of.
I managed to get her to smile and calm down. I told her I had to go, which was true and she relented after a few more minutes. She melted into the crowds and the static she had drawn on ebbed away. Thus, the shift ended and I returned to my own world of relative normality.