Thursday, 26 June 2008


I'm not sure I'd want to get into the back of this private taxi!
Early shift: Nine calls; all by ambulance.

Stats: 2 DIB; 2 not alert; 2 head injury; 1 faint; 1 allergy; 1 not required

South London and the world’s ugliest tower block for my first patient, an 80 year-old woman with DIB. She’s on the 9th floor (of course) and I find myself looking up at the grey, shabby 70’s council architecture thinking that the lift will probably not be working, if indeed there was a lift.

The lady is struggling to breathe and has swollen ankles and high blood pressure – she’s suffering from congestive heart failure and needs to go to hospital. The crew arrive a short while after me and wheel her away. I get the hell out of the area before I am forced to spend the entire shift there.

Another DIB and I’m treating a 46 year-old female who’s short of breath and feeling faint. She works in the hotel that I was sent to and I’m in the bowels of it in the small staff area set aside for the domestic workers (low paid, probably illegal). Again her ankles are swelling and she tells me she has a history of this but it has yet to be diagnosed.

The crew arrive after having been harassed by the top-hat wearing doorman who insisted they couldn’t park in the driveway because it was obstructing the free flow of rich guests who needed to get as close as possible to the main entrance in their Jaguars and Bentleys, allowing him to do his job of opening their doors for them. It was ridiculous because he’d tried the same thing with me and I’d courteously declined to move or give the keys to the car up so that one of his lackeys could move it. We get the same treatment from other drivers, bus drivers and sometimes MOPs when they believe us to be an irritating obstruction. They wouldn’t dream of behaving like that if we were the police...or their mothers were dying.

A semi-conscious 45 year-old woman in another very posh hotel after that. Again, a member of staff was unwell and had fainted but this time I wasn’t harried about my parking and neither was the crew. In fact, they were all thoroughly nice.

The patient should have been taking medicine for high blood pressure but she’d been ignoring it and the result was…high blood pressure, leading to a collapse. The fact that she’d been worrying about her son who’d apparently disappeared on an exam day may have added to her stress.

Ninety five is a ripe old age to have good health and my next patient had no medical history except for slightly high blood pressure. She’d fainted in a restaurant and a doctor from a local surgery popped in to take care of her and give a hand-over when I arrived. It was her birthday today and she was celebrating with friends; perhaps she over-did it a bit. She’d had a glass or two of wine and a meal – then she collapsed. She was recovering well when I got there and all she was worrying about was that she’d spoiled the day for everyone. I was worried about her BP, which was quite low and her BM, which was quite high, so off she went to hospital with a sympathetic crew.

A regular caller – the same guy I refer to in my book; the one who attacked me with a bottle – is out of prison and back on the streets, calling ambulances regularly…daily, in fact. My screen says that a 50 year-old male has a head injury and a ‘big lump on his stomach’ - and given the area, it could only be him. This time, he’s drunk and has a head injury after falling on his face. Worried MOPs have dialled 999 and I’m with a crew as he staggers around, smiling, waving and staining everything he touches with blood.

‘I know you!’ he spits as he points at me.

‘Yes, you do’, I agree with a professional smile (I’m in a good mood).

This time there’s no menace, no bottle and no intent to do me harm. This time, he thinks I’m his best friend.

A CRU and an ambulance are already on scene and such is his infamy that they all know him. He’ll survive and be back again tomorrow…and the next day.

A ‘not alert’ 50 year-old got two minutes of my time because the crew was on scene almost behind me. She explained her near-faint to them as I left.

Calls like this are put in newspapers. A 30 year-old woman is lying in the ‘distress position’ on a treatment bed in a hair salon. She’s called an ambulance because she’s reacting to the peroxide that’s been put in her hair. She looks shiny and blonde as a result, which is nice but she’s also got a red and swollen face, so now she looks like a glamorous puffer fish and she’s not happy. In fact, she’s crying about it because she knew it would happen and had taken a couple of antihistamines in preparation for it, hoping that they would prevent the inevitable. Unfortunately, she thinks she’s overdosed and this is the reason she’s dialled 999. I explained that she hadn’t and that she’s reacting, just as she knew she would, to the chemical in her hair. I suggested she try another colour in future and I was smiling when I said it. She smiled back but it was difficult to tell if she meant it or not. Otherwise, her airway was absolutely fine.

I request a cancellation for a faint a few miles away because I’ve been approached by a man who wants me to attend to a drunk with a head injury just a few yards from where I am parked. I can’t refuse and the ambulance is still a distance away, so I go to his aid.

A police officer is propping up a man who is a worse-for-wear professional. He fell onto the ground in Leicester Square and scared the tourists. Otherwise he is harmless and quite funny to chat to – the cop’s been with him a while and they are best mates now. His head injury needs treating, so as soon as the crew arrive he’s taken to hospital with much hilarity in the back of the ambulance - it's nice to have a patient with a sense of humour.

I end the shift at my main station when I’m called out for a 36 year-old female who’s fitting in a prison van which is now parked up on a busy road. This sort of thing always makes the police nervous – they don’t want prisoners escaping from those mobile lock-ups on pretence of illness, so when I arrive there are more than a few cops around.

I’m not needed though; she’s not fitting and the crew are dealing with her. She has abdo pain and threw herself on the floor of her cell in an attempt to get the message across to the guards. They thought she was fitting because throwing yourself to the floor is similar, right?

Anyway, all the crew want from me is a blanket because they have none. I give them two and poodle off into the sunset.

Be safe.


Oliver Smith said...

They thought she was fitting because throwing yourself to the floor is similar, right?

Of course it is (/sarcasm)

Your 95 year old must have some amazing stories to tell. Shame the emergency services don't often get the chance to hear them!

Anonymous said...

I don't get the pic? PLease explain!

Anonymous said...


Let me guess "I'll Rob U"

Regional Para