Saturday, 17 May 2008

Panic in the city

Eight calls; one dead on scene, one false alarm and six by ambulance.

A naked man lay dead by his bed with a tray of cups scattered around him. He was found by a neighbour who reported the 78 year-old as possibly deceased. He was stiff and post mortem staining was obvious, so the neighbour's description was accurate. A crew and MRU were on scene but all we could do was fill in the paperwork recognising life extinct and leave it to the police.


A RTC next and a 25 year-old male, who’d been hit by a car, waited for us with a minor head injury. Again a crew and MRU were already on scene, so I wasn’t really needed and I greened up for the next call, which was for another 25 year-old, this time a female, who was ‘shaking and feeling faint’. The crew was on scene with me and the woman wasn’t shaking and didn’t feel faint – she just wanted an ambulance because she didn’t feel 100%. I left the crew to it.


A call to Regent Street sounded like a psychiatric case; a 35 year-old man had collapsed in the street and was banging his chest as if in pain. Passers-by, who genuinely worry about such things, called an ambulance for him but when I arrived I found a CRU paramedic on scene with a younger man, probably about 20 years-old, who was hyperventilating. His female friend was having an asthma attack and both had collapsed in a heap after running frantically to meet an exam deadline (it’s that time of the year for students). He panicked and she sympathised with a genuine illness. I requested another ambulance for her and both were taken, separately to the same hospital. Both would miss the exam after all, so their distress was fruitless.


Another case of panic but with the addition of some amateur dramatics, was my call to a 34 year-old female ‘? Fit’ in a ladies’ toilet. She was lying on her back, eyes closed tightly, feet thrashing about in a feigned display of epilepsy. She’d suddenly dropped, according to her colleague, bashing her head on the wall as she fell. Then she lay there waiting for me to come and make her sensible again.

I persuaded her to stop kicking and open her eyes and she told me, eventually, that she was worried about personal problems. She had fallen down in an attempt to make her despair clear, rather like a child does when they are having a tantrum – throwing themselves to the floor.

The crew took her to hospital but all she really needs is an adult way of expressing herself in public.


I had to find a needle in a haystack on the next call – well, a coach among dozens of them parked up and down the Embankment. It’s not an easy task when it’s for someone with chest pain and the only thing you have to go on is that it’s ‘blue’. There must have been ten blue coaches along the route on each side of the road. I drove, turned around, drove some more – looked into each coach, turned around again...it was almost comical.

Then I found it. The driver was sitting on the pavement complaining of chest pain. He was 27 years-old and from Albania. He had a coach full of tourists who were on their way to catch a flight from Stanstead airport; some of them were on the pavement too, confused and bemused at the same time.

He had developed the pain whilst driving and told me he hadn’t been sleeping well, hadn’t eaten well and was generally run-down. I knew that feeling; I’ve been the same myself for a few weeks recently. His pain probably wasn’t cardiac related but we waited for an ambulance because you just never know – even with a clear ECG.

I went aboard the bus once I had made my patient comfortable and asked the passengers if they’d like to get some fresh air. It was very warm inside the vehicle and there were children sitting there with their parents. A replacement driver had been called out and he arrived within twenty minutes, along with the ambulance. The driver was taken to hospital and the tourists got to continue their journey to the airport.


A bizarre call next for a male prisoner who’d set himself alight on a prison van during his short trip from court to a cell. He’d smuggled a lighter on board and attempted to go up in flames, along with anybody else in the vehicle by putting the flame to his shirt. Luckily, his shirt didn’t burn too well and the driver and guard put him out with water before he could become a human torch and a martyr to the incompetency of the prison transfer system, which I assume, searched him. The police had closed the roads off and were there in force – one officer even brandished a riot shield but when they took him off the van and surrounded him, I realised they were probably over-reacting. He was a skinny, sheepish looking individual. I thought maybe there were five or six murderers on board who’d come out too but he was the only person in there. Ten cops, an ambulance, MRU and FRU – all for a shirtless man who couldn’t even stage his own suicide properly.


My day of panic attacks ended with a 26 year-old man who’d passed out after hyperventilating. He was in the first aid room of his office with colleagues attending to him. He had a history of panicking and he sat on the couch trembling like a leaf for no reason (or none that he would give me). The crew took him to a softer, gentler place to recover and I went back in preparation for going home...and this time, they let me.

Be safe.

3 comments:

Louise said...

It gets frustrating when people blatantly use the ambulance service as a way of getting a reaction from others....... Your conclusion on this lady was brilliant, she needs to be an adult about her problems

Panic Attacks, I have been a victim of a panic attack caused by a university pressure situation, its pretty scarey but I was successfully talked out of it by friends...... an ambulance wasn't even considered............. my exam did get delayed by an hour though!

Anonymous said...

Only once have my panic attacks (Usually brought on by stress at exam times aswell!), needed an ambulance, and that was simply the fact that the first-aider was worried that I wasn't calming down after 10 minutes.

Simply to say, a trip to hospital wasn't needed, and I only wasted the time of 1 FRU paramedic for "nothing".

Andrew said...

Been viewing for a couple of weeks now. Seems like your havin more bad days than good. Hope things turn around for ya. Really enjoy the cynicism anyway. A.