Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Scrap for knives

Early shift: Nine calls; all taken by ambulance (for a change).

Stats: 1 DIB; 4 Fitting; 1 Hyperventilation; 1 Miscarriage; I ETOH; 1 Chest pain.

So the police have been told to crackdown on the theft of metal around the UK. Drain covers and school roofs are being nicked for the price of the scrap, most of which is going abroad (China is starved of raw materials for its expansion). Its costing £300m annually and the nationwide raids are being made a priority. Ironically, we have a major knife crime problem, so maybe (and I don’t mean this to slur the police who have no choice) all that metal is being used to produce more deadly weapons. Maybe that’s why the Government thinks it’s a good idea to raise the bar on property theft rather than death by knife.

An 89 year-old woman with DIB gets my attention at the start of the day. She is wheezing and I can hear the fluid in her lungs as she tries to breathe. Her family are around her as I listen to her history of cardiac problems, type II diabetes and high blood pressure. She gets oxygen and is put on a nebuliser; her sats are very low and she needs to go to hospital quickly. The crew oblige and I run to the next call.

I’m not required for the 40 year-old man who’s fitting at work because a crew is on scene and the patient is recovering well.

I’m not sure about the next patient at all, however. She was mistaken for a man by a MOP in the park when she was seen to fit then become unconscious on a bench. I reach her and she is coming round.

‘What’s your name?’ I ask her.

‘What’s your name?’ she repeats as if it’s a test.

She’s clearly confused and is reluctant to be helped in any way, so getting a baseline is problematic, even with the police on scene. In fact, she becomes very annoyed when an Officer tries to take her bag to look for ID, accusing him of theft and threatening to report him to...the police.

The crew arrive a few minutes later and she is eventually taken away to hospital. She may have suffered a stroke or she may have had a fit – either way, I’m not sure 'cos in London town there are plenty of eccentrics out and about. Some of them are unconventional...some of them are mad.

I was about to cancel the ambulance for my next patient, a 34 year-old woman who was hyperventilating at work. She didn’t really want to go to hospital and she didn’t need to but the crew arrived before I had a chance to stop them and she agreed to be checked out by them, just in case. They managed to get her to consent and off she went.

Up on the third floor of a Government building I carefully assessed a 39 year-old woman who was having a miscarriage. The baby was dead in the womb and she knew it. She had insisted on carrying on with the pregnancy however and now it had reached its terminal point…and she knew that too. She cried a little and her pain was palpable. Her husband stood by her not knowing quite what to do and in these circumstances we (men) are quite useless.

She’s had a miscarriage before but she has also given birth to healthy children.

‘How many children do you have?’ I ask.

‘Thirteen’, she replies.

I have to ask her to repeat that.

The next call for a ‘chest pain’ patient was a drunken patient. The 45 year-old woman is a regular caller (as I discovered during a conversation with colleagues later on). She always claims to have chest pain. I went in to her flat with the crew and she was staggering about the place, laughing and shouting at us. She’d opened the door for us and when asked if she’d called an ambulance she simply said ‘Yeah, whatever’ and led us into the front room.

‘What have you had to drink?’ my colleague asked her.

‘A lot’ she says, grinning like a child.

She didn’t want to be taken to a certain hospital because her father and brother had both died there she claimed, as if the hospital was solely responsible for that and she would be next. Medical community vendettas against whole families are thankfully rare, so I was reluctant to believe her. The alcohol was a convincing factor - why do drunken women shout? When I patrol around the West End at the weekend it's almost always the female voices, shrill and very loud, that I hear without trying.

A 20 year-old female collapsed and had a fit at a local beauty school and a gang of wannabe beauticians crowded around a classroom door to check out the excitement. It took a large colleague with a broad foot to keep them inside where they belonged. I think beauticians are naturally nosey, like hairdressers. I never know when my next holiday is going to be but they insist on asking, like they want to join me.

Again, I wasn’t required for the 50 year-old woman with chest pain (on the same street as the fitting beautician, ironically) because the crew was on scene and dealing with it.

I had a long break after that and spent an hour or so chatting to my MRU colleagues and drinking coffee (none of which I had to pay for). Rest periods like that are unusual, so I was glad of it.

I ended my day with a 50 year-old man who was recovering from a fit on a bus. He was dizzy and post ictal and didn’t look well at all. I left the crew to persuade him to go to hospital because he was adamant he wouldn’t.

Be safe.


Sue said...

Free coffee is always good... :-)

Sam Tyler said...

Now xf, I know after reading your blog I never believe the calls to uncoscious male/female unsure if dead calls but my colleague went to one the other day.

The poor bloke was dead, in his front garden after staggering out of the house and trying to call for an ambulance realising he was having a heart attack. On the phone in his hand he'd dialled 999 but hadn't made it to the call button.

It does happen...

Xf said...


I know and I have reported on a few here but when 99% of these calls are not as given, you become a little complacent. That doesn't mean to say we aren't prepared for the worst of course.