Thursday, 12 June 2008

Too Scottish

Fourteen emergency calls; two assisted-only and twelve went by ambulance.

I was very tired when I started this long, busy shift and I was sent immediately I booked on-duty to a 58 year-old with renal failure whose family suspected he’d suffered a TIA after a day trip to the seaside. They ran around the estate guiding me in, which was just as well because the place is a nightmare to navigate around.

He sat in his wheelchair outside in the sunshine and explained that he didn’t feel well. There was no evidence of a new brain insult but he was taken to hospital for checks anyway when the crew arrived a few minutes into my primary.

I encountered my regular Lithuanian gel-stealing friend when a call came in for a 28 year-old male who’d had a '? fit' after being assaulted by bar staff. This turned out to be false; he hadn’t been assaulted by anyone and he wasn’t fitting, although he tried his best, as usual, to put on a good show. The MRU was already on scene and I advise him and the crew, when they arrived, of what I knew of this man and his brother. Both are alcoholics who feign illness to get into various hospitals throughout the day, only to leave laden with spirit gel before they have been assessed. It’s a disgusting betrayal of the trust we show to visitors and those seeking to live in this country – it’s also has a shameful tarnishing effect on the majority of those who come here for honest purposes.

A young man lay face down on a tube platform, perfectly drunk. It took me ten minutes to bring him back to a level of sobriety that would ensure he could get home on his own without tying up an A&E bed. The crew and I walked him to another platform and bid him farewell. He looked appropriately ashamed of himself.

When a bus hits you in the West End, you’ll get a big response from us. Two MRU’s, an ambulance, police and myself were deployed to a minor injury after a 25 year-old female was dealt a glancing blow by a bendy bus. She was collared and boarded just in case and off she went to hospital…just in case. Oxford Street was closed off in both directions as we assessed and treated her, so there weren’t many happy drivers around us.

I wasn’t required for the 44 year-old female with chest pain at a theatre; the crew was on scene when I arrived.

During a routine fuel fill-up at one of our designated petrol stations, I said hello to Graham Norton, who was busily filling his Lexus. I’ve met him before and he’s pleasant enough. I was behind his vehicle (not intentionally) as I travelled back to my area and he mounted the pavement to let me pass when I received my next call and switched on the lights and sirens. Nice to know I could change the balance of power for a few seconds.

GHB is a common recreational drug, especially among members of the homosexual society and it produces complications that can lead to death. Most of the time, however, we are trying to manage an unconscious or semi-conscious and combative person. My next patient, a 25 year-old man whose partner had called us, was no exception. He’d been given the drug by a stranger in the toilets of a Soho club and had collapsed in the street afterwards. Now he was a thrashing, kicking individual with no sense of where he was or what he was doing. The streets were very busy, so as soon as the crew arrived, we got him onto a trolley bed and into the ambulance, where I left him.

We were short of a few ambulances tonight and I was asked to make a very long journey north, well out of my area, for a 44 year-old female with chest pain. I couldn’t find the address after my slog and the crew were on scene a few seconds after I’d managed to locate it and been greeted by the patient, who’d walked herself down stairs to open the door for me. I handed over straight away and made my way back because there was a hole in the cover in my own area now.

I suspect I was sent to the next call because of my origins; a 51 year-old man was complaining of back and abdominal pains but was ‘very difficult to understand due to a very strong Scottish accent’. I guessed I was going there as a medic-interpreter!

I stood outside his secure entry door with the crew but he wouldn’t buzz us in and refused to come and meet us, according to Control when I called in. Ten minutes later he appeared from a completely different direction and we realised we’d been standing at the wrong door all along. I blame the council planning people personally.

He wasn’t friendly and yes, he was Scottish, Glaswegian like myself but he was quite easy to understand, so I let the crew get on with it and did my paperwork. I’ve met this man before and he can become very aggressive. The crew knew of him too and they spent a long time inside his flat. Concern evaporated when I realised they were probably trying to talk him out of going to hospital because he didn’t need to.

A 22 year-old woman walked across a busy road against the traffic lights and got hit by a car for her trouble. She’d been drinking and admitted this to me when I found her sitting in a police car. She had no significant injury and I discovered that the car’s mirror had struck her at low speed. She was still collared and boarded because she couldn’t remember much of the event and this might have been a result of her alcohol intake or unconsciousness after the collision. Neither the crew nor I were taking any chances.

My next patient didn’t like the fact that I woke him from his drunken sleep and he swore at me as he headed off down the street. The 26 year-old man had been found ‘unconscious’ in the street by a worried MOP. I shook the man awake and he found me instantly objectionable; it’s a hard life.

I left the crew to deal with a 25 year-old female who was fitting at a bus stop because I was excess to requirements and was sure I’d be needed elsewhere. I soon discovered I was when I was sent to a 35 year-old man who was ‘unconscious’ on the top deck of a bus.

The dreadlocked six footer was face down and in a very tight space but was easily roused and I sent him packing with the reassuring words that ‘everyone falls asleep on warm buses when they’ve had a drink’. He seemed to understand.

A confusing call for a 25 year-old male ‘unconscious’ in an alley turned into a redirected call for a male with a head injury after a fruitless search for my patient. The call had been made twice but with different details given, generating a duplicate. The crew was already on scene and dealing with a guy who’d been assaulted.

My last call almost ended with a young woman exercising her right to refuse treatment, even though she complained of chest pain. I found her in a doorway with friends; she seemed intelligent and probably articulate but I didn’t find any of that out until later because she wouldn’t make eye contact with me (which always makes me suspicious) and she wouldn’t talk to me. She did, however, hug up to her friend a lot and speak to him every now and then. There’s nothing more frustrating than being called out and having to pry information from an obstructive patient.

The crew arrived and, just as we were going to leave her after she refused for the nth time, she conceded and went to hospital. She was obviously stressed and something happened that I’ve seen a lot – once her friends were out of the immediate area, she opened up. She even smiled a few times for me.

At hospital we waited to book her in and I spoke to her about what could be troubling her and leading to these chest pains, which she’d had before. I discovered she’d been having a lot of problems at work and stress had been dominating her life recently.

‘Are you staying?’ she asked me.

‘Do you want me to?’ I replied.


And so I chatted with her until I’d been at hospital almost long enough to generate a ‘phone call from Control asking where I was. It’s been a while since I’ve spent more than a short time with any of my patients and it softened me.

Be safe.


Louise said...

I am a native English Tech working in Weegie land, not been up here long so still working out the accent............ unfortunatley one of our controllers has a very difficult to understand accent............ often leading to "What did he just say?" looks between colleagues......... even the Scottish ones!

stuart said...

So did 2 women get hit by a bus in London and receive a massive response, and thus a large coincidence, or was there some sort of mistake? Me confused.

Deborah said...

Does no-one ever open a window on a bus in London?

Xf said...


Aye, it can be tough for us foreigners.

Xf said...


Only one woman got hit by a bus. Am I missing something?

Xf said...


Why would you want to open a window on a bus? You'd only be letting more drunks in :-)