Saturday, 19 July 2008


Night shift: Nine calls; all taken by ambulance.

Stats: 3 Head injuries; 1 time waster; 2 drug overdoses; 1 DIB; 1 stabbing; 2 ETOH.

The first drunken patient I was called to had walked into a moving car as he crossed the road. As he fell, he grabbed the open window of the vehicle (which was still moving) and clung on as he hit the ground, cracking his head open on the road. The driver got a bit of a fright and braked in time to stop his wheels from rolling over the inebriated 25 year-old.

Thankfully, his injury was fairly minor but he still needed to go to hospital because his wound would have to be checked and closed. His friends became obstructive at times and had to be told to quieten down. She was taking the ‘you are a public servant and will therefore answer my inane questions, even if it is interfering with patient care’ approach and I can’t stand people who do that. It ranks up there alongside ‘I pay my taxes and you will obey me’.

The Lithuanian alcohol-gel thief was back in action tonight and I only had to look at the call description to know it was him: ‘30 year-old male fitting, second fit worse than before’. It’s all getting so tiring now. I arrived with the crew and as soon as I recognised him and he recognised me (that strange exchange takes place where I acknowledge he’s wasting our time and he doesn’t give a damn) the game was up. The crew didn’t know him, so he continued to play on it for a while longer…at least until he was in the back of the ambulance.

A strange skinny man was seen ‘shaking’ and behaving oddly in some bushes outside a block of flats, so the neighbours called the police. The cops dragged him out of the hedges with his trousers around his ankles and he promptly collapsed. A crack pipe was found nearby but they weren’t sure if it was his or not. They called us out and I arrived to find him lying on the ground with handcuffs on. He was either truly unconscious or faking it really well.

I asked for the cuffs to be removed and carried out my obs, finding nothing untoward and deciding not to give him Narcan because he wasn’t at risk and I didn’t want him awake and aggressive. I waited for the crew and they arrived ten minutes later. He was hoisted onto the trolley bed and woke up immediately.

His recovery continued in the ambulance as the crew and police interviewed him. He wouldn’t tell them what he was doing in the bushes but I’ve seen this behaviour before (the man with the porn magazine underneath him who’d been found unconscious and half-naked in a doorway). It’s possible that after taking drugs, they become aroused and don’t care where they are when they act on that impulse.

A 70 year-old lady with DIB and sats in the high 70’s said ‘I’m not coming home, am I?’ as she was wheeled from her home by the crew. I couldn’t answer her because I didn’t want to lie. She wasn’t well and her breathing had deteriorated suddenly overnight. I had nebulised her but it had barely had an effect.

Stabbings are becoming common in London and my next call was to a random knifing on a 25 year-old tourist who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time (if that’s even fair to say). He was walking down a street in the West End when a passing stranger allegedly lunged at him, stabbing him once in the back. That was it, no other exchange took place. The assailant walked off and he was left collapsing on the pavement. It’s frighteningly possible that it could have been anyone…you or me, your brother or sister.

Luckily for him, the wound wasn’t deep enough or near enough any vital organs to cause a life-threatening injury but that was just luck. He could just as easily be dying for nothing.

Drunken people’s drunken friends can be very annoying and very entertaining. Another young woman with no tolerance for alcohol – a 23 year-old, slumped in a doorway after being hauled out of a club had vomited a pool of yellow liquid then lay on the ground waiting for the world to go away. Her friends drifted in and out of the scene to make comments as I tried to get her to talk to me.

‘Oh my God, is she going to be alright? What’s wrong with her?’ a random friend asked in a shrill, high pitched and panicky voice (these are the people who won’t survive the next crisis in their lives).

‘Yep…she’s drunk’, I answered. I hope to inspire confidence but I really want to say ‘serves you right’.

This young woman had downed a bottle of Malibu on her own and now her friends were actually surprised to see her puking it all back up as the alcohol kept her in a semi-conscious state.

‘Yeah, I get like that sometimes. You know how you get so drunk that you can’t feel your own legs?’ the shrieker asked me.

‘No, not really’, I answered, wondering if she was decribing this or a stroke..

A cat fight broke out yards from us and this made the loud friends go away but it also made the area that little bit less friendly for me and the crew when they arrived. At least three women were scratching it out for who knows what reason and the men were, predictably, doing nothing to stop it. They were happy to form a circle around the battling females and grin en masse (this, I believe, is the same as chanting but in a more subtle, socially-acceptable way).

I got another mouthy friend later on when I went to deal with a drunken 20 year-old woman who fell on her head when she tripped over herself. She lay on the road with a bleeding scalp and her mate, who was probably twice as drunk as the patient, attempted to stand her up, pushing me out of the way to get to her. She had to be warned again and again to step back and let me get on with it but she wasn’t having any of it. ‘She’s my best friend’, she told me, as if that gave her a licence to make her condition worse. Eventually, one of the club doormen took her aside for a chat.

When she was loaded onto the ambulance, friend in tow, I climbed aboard to put a line in and give her fluids because her BP was low. Her friend was still misbehaving and was allowed to go to the toilet as we carried out another full set of obs on the patient. This pause seemed to cure her of bad behaviour and when she returned, she was quieter and apologetic.

As I tried to finish the paperwork on that last job, I was asked to go into the club to treat a member of staff who’d collapsed in the toilet. She was slumped on the floor and had been unconscious for a few minutes. She’d been given a drink or two by customers and now she could barely keep her eyes open or make any sense. It looked to me like she’d been slipped something in her alcohol – she certainly wasn’t drunk.

The toilet was like a sauna and I had to wait a fair amount of time before an ambulance came to get this lady out. I was sent another FRU pilot in the meantime and he helped me with obs until we could move her. Meanwhile, I was beginning to drip with sweat.

When the crew arrived and we got her out into the cooler air, she was taken to hospital straight away. If the drugs didn’t get her, the heat of that bunker toilet would.

In the late early hours I was sent south for a 25 year-old man who’d been shot. I passed the armed cops as they suited and tooled up in the street and I arrived to find other police officers pinning a man to the ground as he wept. I was told he was the assailant and that the victim was around the corner - I had no idea why he was crying like a baby. I drove a few metres and pulled up beside another man who was nursing his eye. He’d been hit by a bottle, not a bullet, during a scuffle in the street. He was in a state of shock because he couldn’t believe anyone would hit him like that after a minor disagreement (about what I know not). His injury was minor – he had a laceration above his eye – and he was lucky the other man wasn’t armed, especially in this neck of the woods where real stabbings and shootings take place.

I went home contemplating the random nature of the assaults I’d dealt with. It’s easier to become a victim of violence than ever before simply because there are greater influences on the instigators; drugs, alcohol, theft, anger, social circumstances, territorial jealousy. If someone wants to have a go at you he will and it may well be because you looked at him the wrong way. Of course the Press may not have helped by keeping knife crime in focus because this may have bred a culture of status among those who carry deadly weapons but we still can’t ignore the increase in violence proportionate to the growing discontent of our young in society. We give them little or nothing to aspire to.

Be safe.


Lesley said...

'wrong place at the wrong time'.... it would appear that you are constantly being sent to 'wrong places'.... how on earth do you cope?
Stay safe!

Xf said...


I have my wits and a stab vest.


Anonymous said...

Sorry to be dim... ETOH? what does that stand for? You seem to use it a lot.

Xf said...


You may have asked this later too...but ETOH means drunk. Refer to TPD Glossary for a full explanation. OR buy the's in there! :-)