Monday, 14 July 2008


Early shift: Eight calls; two no-traces, one conveyed in the car, one assisted-only and four by ambulance.

Stats: 1 sleepy head, 1 DIB, 1 chest pain, 1 RTC with head, neck and chest injuries, 1 abdo pain vomiting blood and one dizzy person.

The anniversary of 7/7 (how come terrorist incidents happen on neat dates like this?) is always a sombre occasion in London but this year it was a very low-key affair and I think the public memory of the outrage is being diluted, which is a shame. Nevertheless, I stood over the flowers at Tavistock Square and closed my eyes to think back. I wondered when this would happen again and how many would be taken next time. I wondered if myself and my colleagues would be in the firing line and if I would ever be standing at a memorial for emergency services staff.

I was assigned another observer for my shift today – a trainee nurse called Sue who wanted to experience life on the road, so to speak. She was due to ride out on three days, one with me and the other two with crews. I got on well with her and the company was nice for a change. She stuck with me until early afternoon then went home tired. I have that effect on people.

The first of two consecutive no-trace calls was for a bus vs. cyclist RTC. The bus was still on scene but the cyclist, who’d been clipped by it, was nowhere. She’d left the area an hour before but nobody thought to tell us and the call was made by the bus company anyway.

The second call was for a 25 year-old male ‘collapsed’, which means anything from cardiac arrest to staring into space these days. He too was invisible when we arrived. Sue was definitely getting to grips with this whole paramedicine thing!

A 22 year-old near-faint next. I took her to hospital in the car because she was just plain tired and when I left her at the hospital she lay down on the waiting room bench and continued what she’d started earlier.

The crew was on scene for the next call – a 79 year-old female with DIB, so I wasn’t required and did a quick about-turn after checking this was the case.

Off to a local hotel next to treat a hard working 41 year-old Lithuanian woman who’d developed chest pain and had struggled to carry out her duties as a domestic all morning. She had no previous history for this and the call had originally been given as a faint, so the chest pain was a bit of a surprise when I was told about it. She was taken to hospital but was smiling through her concern.

Mr C. is still making his daily 999 calls and I thought I was off to E1 (a long way out) to deal with him again. This isn’t his usual area but it wasn’t long before I heard another call over the radio concerning him, so I guess he’s moving around for a break. I got cancelled on the E1 call thankfully.

The next call was for a 41 year-old female who’d been hit by a car as she crossed a pedestrian crossing on a busy road. The lights were in her favour by all accounts and the car, a private taxi, was travelling at 25 mph when it went straight through red and into her. She travelled up on the bonnet before landing hard onto the road. She had head, neck and chest injuries. My main concern was that she had some difficulty breathing and complained of a tightening chest but I couldn’t see or hear any evidence of a pneumothorax, although that didn’t mean one wasn’t developing. She was collared, boarded and taken to hospital rapidly with me attending to her while one of the crew drove my car for me. She arrived in a stable condition, although her chest still hurt. At least I didn't have to contemplate doing anything nasty to her if she'd deteriorated.

Then a short drive north for a 17 year-old with abdo pain who claimed he’d vomited blood. His mates were busily moping around the small flat, smoking and puffing out of the open window. I didn’t see the point because the place stank of cigarettes and blowing it out of the window made no difference. I was a little uneasy in the place to be honest, there were a few of these young guys around and more kept appearing from different rooms. I’m never comfortable when I can’t count the people around me.

Anyway, despite the lack of evidence that he’d actually vomited blood and the fact that he claimed many other injuries, including acute deafness in one ear, he was taken to hospital. Hopefully he’ll grow up there.

Sue had gone by the time I got my last job of the shift, for a 16 year-old female ‘not alert’ in a shop. I arrived to find a perfectly alert girl who had suffered a short period of dizziness. That’s all. I asked her if she needed to go to hospital and she agreed that she didn’t. Her dizziness had gone and she was fine. I think she stood up too quickly or saw the price of the shoes and ‘took a turn’, as my mother would say.

Be safe.


Asclepius said...

Student Nurses can roll with ambulance crews? thats worth knowing. I'm a first year nursing student with aspirations of A&E nursing.

As far as the dilution of the memory of 7/7 its just how the world goes. Its sad but in some ways beautiful. People are now living their lives as they did before that day, they dont walk the streets in fear....well any more fear than is sensible for the streets of london.

Xf said...


Yes, student nurses can come out with us if they complete the paperwork.

I met a plain clothes cop the other day who's sole job was to walk about the streets looking for possible terrorists. He told me that Londoners' complacency about 7/7 has led to him having to look for a needle in a haystack because nobody would report a suspicious package as readily now as they would a week or so after the attack.

Another attack is coming and if its in a crowded store during the sales or at a weekend, there will be a massive loss of life. He felt that it was everyone's duty to keep their eye on the ball and not leave it all to the professionals, just so we can blame them afterwards for not doing their job.

So, I don't really think its 'beautiful' to put the deaths of so many innocents on the back boiler for the sake of Britishness although I understand what you mean. It's possible to remember the tragedy properly and still get on with life whilst being careful not to let it happen again.