Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Five emergencies – one left scene, one conveyed in the car and the others by ambulance.

I didn’t do a thing until almost 11pm. It’s unusual and I’m not complaining about the rest but unfortunately, the quiet period couldn’t have been predicted, so I never quite knew when a call would be coming in – thus no possibility of actually recharging my batteries.

When the first call came in, I was sent to the City for a 25 year-old man who was unconscious in the street. I was expecting to find a drunk asleep on the ground but when I arrived, the man was sitting up and there was someone with him – the person who had made the call. As I approached the patient, I heard the caller telling Control that I was there now. Then he hung up and walked away, without a word. I thanked him and got a weak wave as he walked off, leaving me with the patient.

I had to assume that he had been found collapsed in the street because the call description stated that he had been in and out of consciousness. He was sitting up now but he wasn’t with it at all. Every attempt I made to communicate and ask simple questions like ‘what’s your name?’ was met with a look in my general direction, an ‘uh?’ and a quick drop of the head. I asked him if he’d been drinking; there was a powerful smell of alcohol and urine or a mixture of those and faeces – I couldn’t quite make it out because the aroma was fused. Whatever it was, I found it offensive when I got close. His response to the question was to nod. I took that as a yes.

Then I asked him if he was a diabetic because his behaviour just didn’t fit with simple inebriation somehow. He nodded his head to that too. I checked his BM and it was marginally low; not critically but enough for me to consider that it was dropping, so I got the Glucose gel out and tried to get him to eat some but he spat it out immediately. I was in the middle of the pavement alone with this guy and people were beginning to hover around to see what was going on. I got no help, however.

I got my bag out of the car and by the time I got back to him, he was unconscious. I gave him an injection of Glucagon, which was awkward as I had to hold him and try to work around his heavily sleeved arm to do it. Still, even though they could see my struggle on this freezing night, nobody offered to help. I considered asking the nearest nosey person to me for assistance while I continued my treatment but I thought I’d best just get on with it.

Then two police officers showed up and I got the manpower I needed. The patient was still unconscious and I needed to get him out of the cold. There was no ambulance available for me and I didn’t know how long I would be waiting for one. After a thorough examination, I had the patient lifted into the back seat of the car and I thought seriously about taking him directly to hospital rather than wait but Control advised me that an ambulance was finally on its way.

Meanwhile, the man was waking up a little but he still didn’t make any sense. I thought about the possibility of drugs and checked his pupils; they were pinpoint. He wasn’t just drunk – I couldn’t believe that was all there was to this, so as soon as the ambulance arrived and we got him in the back, we checked everything again. He was mildly hypothermic, he was becoming unconscious again, his pulse was slowing and his BP was low. He had no injuries, so his condition was a mystery. I gave him narcan and put fluids up to stabilise his BP. We got him rapidly to hospital and by the time he was in Resus, he was more alert but still not making sense. He may well have taken some other kind of drug (narcan only works on opioids) because the answers to the questions posed by the nurse were childish.

‘Where do you live?’ she asked.

‘Mars’, he said

‘How old are you?’


Said it all really. I wonder if he’s been at the chocolate?

I didn’t get called out again until the early hours of the morning. I had spent almost two hours with the last patient and I got back to the station for a break. Now I was off to Camden to help a 42 year-old female who had called us from a public telephone. She had a personality disorder (which wasn’t specified) and was complaining of chest pain. Unfortunately I couldn’t help her because she abandoned the call box when I arrived on scene. I saw her in the middle of the road during an area search – she waved at me in a ‘hello, I’m here’ sort of fashion, then took off with a couple of dodgy looking blokes. She wasn’t interested in going to hospital anymore. My guess is, she had scored what she was after all along.

When the clubs started chucking people out, at around 4am, I got a call for a 20 year-old female who was drunk and couldn’t stand up – this, I thought, was the very reason for drinking in excess. I helped her get to her feet and she promptly collapsed again, wailing about her condition. The crew had to lift her onto the trolley bed and baby-sit her all the way to hospital.

An 80 year-old female with a history of CVA fell onto her bathroom floor and split her scalp open. It wasn’t serious but it would need to be closed properly to prevent infection. There was also the possibility that it wasn’t a simple mechanical trip and fall, so that too needed to be investigated, although she looked and sounded perfectly well. She had a roaring log fire on and it seemed a shame to have to leave when the crew arrived. I went back out into the cold morning and headed to my base station in the hope that I would get home on time.


A last minute call for which there were no other resources except me, apparently. A 13 year-old boy who had been hit by a car the day before had been found collapsed in the street complaining of a sore head. As soon as I read this I didn’t believe it. I got on scene within a few minutes and there were two people with the young lad; an off-duty police officer and a female passer-by. He had been slumped against a wall when the officer, who had just stepped off a bus on his way to work, came across him with the woman. He had told them that he had passed out last night after being hit by a car. He repeated this to me, regardless of the fact that I wasn’t asking him about that anymore.

‘What are you doing here at this time in the morning?’ I asked him again and again.

‘Last night I got hit by a car. I passed out’, he mumbled over and over.

‘Yes but that doesn’t make sense, does it?’ I said repeatedly.

I told the police officer that I was suspicious. I pointed out that if he’d been hit by a car, he would have spent at least last night in hospital, so why was he wandering around at this early hour with a bag? It didn’t work for me at all and I could tell by the way he avoided direct questions that something else was going on, so I requested the police to scene.

I continued to ask the boy what he was doing there and he insisted he had been hit (now it was a glancing blow) by a car, had wandered off and passed out on a park bench, where he had been all night. Again, I didn’t believe him. He didn’t have a mark on him and unless the driver of the alleged offending vehicle was a criminal, he would have stopped and tried to help. This wasn’t the first time I had come across this excuse from a young boy in trouble; I’ve posted before on the subject.

When the police arrived, I explained the situation but the mystery was about to be solved; the officers had been looking for him all night – he had been reported missing by his mother after they had argued and he’d stormed out of the house. He’d obviously wandered around all night and needed an excuse to get back home without incurring the wrath of the authorities and his parents. I understood this thought process because I’ve done it myself when I’ve run away from home as a youngster. It’s difficult to just go home – you need a buffer so that you can be accepted again without consequences for the worry you’ve caused, so being hit by a car and passing out (therefore not your fault) seems to be the popular choice these days.

I took him to hospital with a police officer as his chaperone and I booked him in to the children’s A&E where he’d be safe and await his mother.

This young boy played a dangerous game. He spent the night wandering around, making himself vulnerable and easy prey for some of the worst people that exist in those dark hours. If he’d spent the night on a park bench, as he’d stated, he had put himself in even more danger but it was freezing overnight, so I think it’s more likely he found a quiet, well-hidden doorway to crawl into for the night. He must have been lonely and terrified.

Be safe.


Tabitha said...

Hmm... you didn't get any help from passersby, but you've posted before about how irritating it is when MOPs interfere with you doing your job. What, ideally, should us Joe Public-types do? What should we be looking for which might signal that some assistance would be gratefully received? Maybe it could be included in those citizenship classes that are all the rage these days.

NJ EMS said...

I thank you for doing the right thing.

RH said...

I agree with Tabitha,
i think yopu should ask for help if you need it,

you wouldn't want people 'diving in' to help in other situations.

Xf said...


I think I only ever moan about people who interfere, which is a whole lot more than just offering help. Many people offer to assist when they see me struggling with patients and I'm either grateful to receive it or thank them and decline.

However, I get your point and shall try to be nicer :-)

Anonymous said...

Not completely on topic with this post, but.

What's the deal with ECA's? I'm POSSIBLY (I.e. if the trust will pay for me to take my C1 driving license test), enter into the Ambulance Service here as an ECA hot and fresh from college doing physics (Yeah, shoulda taken biology really...).

Is it just they're disliked? Or has some incident happened somewhere where an ECA has been involved?
Would Johnnie + ECA = Bad? (Since im in St John Ambulance aswell).

Anonymous said...

Hi xf
Have a lvly Easter

Tabitha said...

Oh, I would never think you were not nice to people's faces, though you might quietly seethe on here ;o)

As a MOP myself, I don't want to do the wrong thing. Maybe they thought he was just another drunk, as you have to deal with so many. But I'll be sure to ask you and your comrades if you need help.

Xf said...


I have no axe to grind with ECA's but there will always be anamosity from certain factions in the service to new ideas/people.

You go ahead and do the job...eventually people will appreciate what you are doing.

Xf said...


Thanks for that. Happy Easter to all of you out there. Don't get fat on cheap chocolate eggs!