Tuesday, 26 February 2008


Thirteen emergency calls; one false alarm, one treated on scene, one gone before arrival, one running call (assisted-only); two further assisted-only and the others went by ambulance.

It’s not summer yet and the calls are increasing over the weekend already. Every year seems worse than the last. I have to assume we are (a) very popular, (b) overloaded or (c) there are more sick people in the world. A and C are both possible, although A seems unlikely and C would be worrying but I’m going with B.

I was very tired when I started tonight and my first call was for a 2 year-old girl with a head injury. The cause of her bleeding scalp was unknown because the two females caring for her couldn’t tell me. She had been left in the front room on her own and a bang was heard. This brought the women into the living room where they found the child face down, covered in blood. She was conscious but extremely distressed when I saw her.

I looked for a possible cause; no blood stains on the furniture, the corners of tables and chairs were innocent of the crime and there were no other heavy objects around – nothing. There was a cat in the flat, so the toddler may have tripped over the creature and fallen but her wound was at the very top of her skull, on the crown, so whatever she hit or whatever hit her made contact with that part. You have to have your head very low to sustain an injury like that from falling or something has to fall on you.

The injury had stopped bleeding, thanks to a towel which had been plonked on to her wounded cranium. I took a close look at it and saw that it was long and depressed at a point – the sort of injury that a hard, narrow object might cause.

The little girl eventually calmed down but she wanted to sleep, which wouldn’t have been a good idea, so I asked her carers to keep her awake as I examined her and waited for the ambulance. I don’t like being left alone for too long with a potentially seriously injured child.

The crew arrived after ten minutes and I had the women bundle the child up and take her down to meet them. I explained what the injury was and left my colleagues to transport her to hospital, along with the two very worried in loco parentis adults.

A call to the West End for a collapsed 40 year-old male next and I’m driving around looking for a windmill. The ambulance arrived soon after me and the crew looked too but nobody claimed us. Then an agitated woman brought the ‘patient’ to us – it was one of our regular callers – a dangerous timewaster and my would-be attacker from last year. He is notorious for lying on the ground pretending to be dying in the hope that a member of the public will call us out. Invariably they do and we wage a battle against the falsely raised concerns of a normal human being in order to convince them that we will not be taking this man to hospital because he will abuse the staff and then walk out, only to call again…and again.

Luckily, as soon as I got out of the car and he recognised me the story changed. The crew also knew him and were busily exchanging information about his notoriety with this very upset woman who had obviously taken to him. I don’t know why because he has the charm of a snake.

Coincidentally, 30 minutes before this call, another hoax call had been made in which the caller asked for all three emergency services and sent his regards to the fire service. I don’t believe in such coincidences where this guy is concerned but I just can’t prove it.

He shook his head and denied asking his new found friend to call us. He gave me a ‘she’s mad’ look and the woman remonstrated with the crew, who remained professionally patient with her as she practically insulted their lack of care for someone so ‘ill’.

Then, as the dust settled, she walked off with him, one loving arm around his dishevelled, unwashed and, at times, aggressive shoulder. True love.

I wasn’t required for the next job. The crew was already on scene and treating an 18 year-old female with Crohns disease who was complaining of DIB. All I did was pop my head around the door and smile. Inside the ambulance I could hear the girl screaming and wailing as if in enormous pain. I learned later that she was exaggerating somewhat.

Sitting on a platform bench at a railway station I found my next patient. He was a 61 year-old man with a history of MI. He had chest pain after travelling to see his daughter. He had forgotten to take his GTN with him and now his angina had kicked in. I gave him a spray and an aspirin and the pain got better. The crew took him to hospital, even though his ECG was unremarkable – better safe than sorry.

A 28 year-old female, with rolling eyes and flailing limbs slipped in and out of consciousness after taking a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine and MDMA. She was in trouble and needed to get to hospital quickly. If this was her idea of a good night out, we were about to spoil it. She got a needle in her vein and some fluids for her trouble.

A call to Tower Bridge, which is more than slightly out of my area, gave me two patients; an eighteen year-old guy with a head injury after having a bottle smashed over it and the world’s smallest 17 year-old, who was just plain drunk. The former had a laceration across his forehead and seemed to bask in the glow of his new found status with the girls around him (teenage girls just love a man with a battle scar). The police were on scene but that didn’t stop the audacious assailant from returning and looking over the bridge at his victim (and me) below. I hoped I wouldn’t see a bottle flying over towards us.

‘There he is, that f**king slag’, shouted my patient, with a few more insults emanating from the girls around me.

The police were very quick off the mark and they chased the violent teenager down, cuffed him and dragged him back to their van, much to the delight of the small gang of ‘innocents’ around me. The language used against the arrested man was pretty foul...and all within a few yards of a posh hotel.

The latter (and I know I got to him in a very long-winded way but thanks for waiting) was a small, bespecled youth who looked like the most likely geek you’ll ever meet. He had been encouraged to drink a LOT by his friends and now they were worried about him because he kept being sick and passing out. There was nothing medically wrong with him but he was a minor and there was no responsible adult to take him home. The one and only ambulance around at the time was busy with my head injury patient, so they couldn’t help.

In the end, I persuaded the mother of one of the other kids to take him off my hands. She knew him from nursery (obviously as a parent, not as a child) and would be able to take him home on the way to her own house. He had one of those first-time-drunk stupid smiles on his face as he left.

Another teenager with too much alcohol in her blood went to hospital after being awoken from her slumber on the floor of a club by the crew, who arrived with me. ‘Don’t hurt me!’ she yelped as the pinch to her shoulder muscle increased and she opened her drunken eyes.

As I crossed Trafalgar Square I noticed a street artist lying on the pedestrian area, wrapped in a cocoon of quilts and blankets. His artwork was still displayed on the pavement and his hat was still out. People had been dropping coins into it, regardless of the fact that it was late at night and he was obviously asleep. While I contemplated this, a man approached me and asked if I could help him. He was asthmatic and had forgotten to bring his inhaler – now he was in trouble and could barely breathe.

‘I thought I wasn’t going to make it home. Then I saw your car’, he wheezed.

I called it in and nebulised him there and then. It took ten minutes to recover him and he felt much better. He refused to go to hospital and he didn’t really need to now, so I left him to continue his journey home.

Just before I moved on a smartly dressed joker approached the car and said:

‘Excuse me, do you do stitches?’

Then he turned around, bent over and exposed a long rip down the seat of his trousers.

‘Can you stitch that?’

Ha ha.

My next call was to an invisible patient. The 24 year-old drunken girl's friends had taken her home before I arrived. Nice of them to let us know.

I drove up a narrow alleyway in Covent Garden to get to that last call and two men were walking along the pavement in the opposite direction. One of them deliberately prepared to flick his lit cigarette in through my open window. He changed his mind at the last minute but I was fully prepared to be burned. Some people have no excuse for their behaviour.

It had been too busy a night for everyone to go to hospital, so my next patient, a 21 year-old female, whose friends had called because they were concerned that she would dehydrate after vomiting a few times, was left at home in their care. I completed my obs but, apart from wasting everyone’s time at hospital, there was nothing that could be done for her...she needed to sleep off the alcohol that was making her sick.

I met Jim, the ‘No,no,no’ character from The Vicar of Dibley near the end of my shift. Well, it wasn’t him exactly but he sounded just like him. He was my ‘drunk on a bus’ call of the night. The 47 year-old man was asleep on the back seat and the crew and I woke him up and moved him on. He was a perfect gentleman and gave us no trouble. The police were on scene too (we get police back up with most of these calls now because of the threat of violence) and they asked him where he lived. He pointed to the bus.

‘I live on buses and trains’, he said.

Another MDMA nutter; a 21 year-old man who looked respectable and intelligent enough to know better was standing at a bus stop with his worried friend. He had taken two E’s and now he felt unwell. His heart was racing and he was dehydrated. Surprise, suprise!

He got a lecture from me and the crew and was duly taken off to hospital. It was going to be a long weekend of drug abuse. There must be a glut of smiley tablets on the street at the moment. Or there’s a sale on.

When I returned to Traffy Square in the late early hours, the street artist hadn’t moved – he was still asleep. His hat, however, was missing, as was the money it had contained. Someone had relieved him of it.
Be safe.


Anonymous said...

In the US, that would be classified as attempted assault on a Firefighter or EMS personnel to the third degree. $1000 (US) and/or up to 60 days in jail."

Do such laws exist in the UK?

miss emma said...

after looking up the full name of MDMA im glad for your sake that you can shorten it!

great post as usual!


Anonymous said...

YOU are a super star!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts, and you are an inspiration to us all. Keep blogging :)

I am appalled that someone took the guys hat!