Monday, 11 August 2008

Too late for some

Day shift: Three calls; one hoax, two by ambulance, including a running call

Stats: 1 Neck injury (fall); one ETOH

Interesting to see that the media are now getting all excited about the fact that alcoholics are using Spirigel to feed their habit. Not only do they use the word 'anecdotal' to describe the evidence but they still seem to believe it hasn't yet been experienced by many of us out there. If only they'd read what I wrote more carefully, eh? I haven't seen my Polish frequent-flyer for some time - I suspect he may have succumbed as a result of his gel-stealing. I warned him many, many times.


Trafalgar Square is my stand-by point and it’s usually a pleasant place to be, especially when the weather is nice and there are lots of interesting people around. Today, however, the tourists, Londoners and myself were treated to some light entertainment when one of the local alcoholics started threatening someone with a broken bottle. When the cops arrived I watched as he aggressively abused one of them too. The cops were PCSO’s and so when the real thing arrived (no offence to the PCSO’s) en-masse (three vehicles and a van turned up), he was eventually subdued with handcuffs and a quick drag to the lock-up. Too right.


I was cancelled on the first call of the day for a 35 year-old man with a neck injury who had fallen from scaffolding, according to the call details. I phoned in to see if I could be useful because I was only a minute or two from the scene and it takes at least two people to deal with a proper neck injury, if that’s what it was. I was told that a bike had already been despatched but I was still concerned about the nature of the call and the fact that only one person had been sent.

I was re-sent the job (apparently I was closer after all) and sped to the scene. I found myself in a construction site and was led up three flights of half-built stairs and along what seemed like endless corridors to a first aid room. This surprised me because I had expected to be taken to the bottom of scaffolding on site – I had my hard hat on and everything.

The patient sat on a chair with a collar on. This was my second surprise. The duty nurse had placed it after the man had been brought to him – he had walked down stairs to get here and complained of neck pain – well, no wonder, I thought. Apparently he’d just smacked his head on the scaffold as he climbed down. This sort of accident had happened before, I was reliably told by the nurse, and the last patient had to be lowered down to ground level using a Neil Robertson stretcher.

My MRU colleague arrived after a few minutes and I explained what was going on. Soon the crew was with us too and we planned his route out - over a period of time, I can tell you. The place was a bit of a maze. Nevertheless, the clever crew managed to get the trolley bed up in the goods lift, despite the fact that this 'couldn’t be done', according to the nurse. The patient’s neck was immobilised properly and he was put on a board using our rapid take-down technique, which involves lowering him from a standing position until he is flat, without him having to make a move himself. We don’t have to do it much but short of putting him in a KED and taking him down on a chair, this worked just fine.

There is always a risk of compression of the spine when you stand up and smash your head on some unyielding object, like a scaffold cross-bar, so we weren’t taking any risks; neither were we taking him down on a Neil Robertson (there was one laid out on the floor for us).

It took us almost an hour to complete our mission but it was managed and he wasn’t in too much pain. He had all his necessary sensations and movements, as per our ritual checks and he was very calm…and why not, he’d walked himself to the first aid room, hadn’t he?

When I got out and had to park up elsewhere and complete my paperwork, the friendly, helpful workmen did this to my car...for protection they said.

My hoax call was for an unconscious female on Trafalgar Square. I think someone must have seen me in the car and decided to dial 999 for a laugh. The call had been made from a local box, so whoever it was must have sloped away and watched as I searched the area with a bewildered look on my face.


A Polish nurse friend of mine was chatting to me when I got my last call and ironically not only was it a few yards from where I was but the ‘unconscious’ male just happened to be Polish. She hadn’t believed me when I told her that we see a lot of her countrymen drunk on the street but I think this took her by surprise. I asked her to help with translation and she went on to have a full conversation with him until he lumbered onto the ambulance for further checks. He’d been seen lying sparked out on the pavement near the Portrait Gallery – he was only nineteen but already he knew how to mimic his elders.

I have to say that I have great respect for the Poles and I mean no harm when I talk about individual nationals like this. I have been just as scathing of the drunken behaviour of my own countrymen but there are fewer of them around these days. They’re probably all lying in the streets of Poland.

Be safe.

4 comments:

Sue said...

I read an article this week, maybe in one of the free papers, that said that Lewisham hospital have stopped putting Spirigel in the corridors after someone died after drinking it - though they must have drunk a fair bit!

Which bit of the Square do you park up on? I'm getting a sore neck twisting me head looking when I'm on the bus ;-)

Anonymous said...

How did you get the c-spine immobilised builder from the seated position to standing? I thought a KED would still be needed to swivel him round onto a board?

miss emma said...

glad that you are posting again! I thought you might have run away to Kiev and left us!

Japh said...

I did have a good laugh about your car being locked away by the construction fella's. Thanks for brightening my day :)