Thursday, 11 September 2008


Day shift: Seven calls; two no-trace, one left in care, one not required, one refused and two by ambulance.

Stats: 2 ETOH; 1 Unwell adult; 1 EP fit.

All day long I had to avoid much of my usual stamping ground because I had been given a footprint. This means that an area has been rendered ‘no-go’ to me and only the voluntary services and/or specifically assigned Forward Incident Teams (FIT) are allowed to operate within it. Whenever a large scale event takes place in London, a footprint is designated. When I first started on the car I had no idea and used to stumble inside them on a regular basis, much to the chagrin of my bosses.

The first call of the day was a no-trace for a 28 year-old male who’d been assaulted by three others. I was told the police were on scene but they weren’t. In fact, nobody but me was on scene…and there was no scene.

The wrong house number for the next call had me circling a one-way system until someone got it right. The ambulance crew had joined me by the time the correct information was passed to us and we looked like yellow emergency buzzards. As we travelled towards the patient’s house (an unconscious 23 year-old) a drunken cyclist fell into the road, directly in our path. The ambulance swerved to avoid hitting him and I stopped feet away from him. I picked him up and he apologised for being so drunk in charge of a bicycle. It was 7am and he was on his way to work. I hope he wasn't a police officer.

When we finally arrived at the unconscious girl’s flat, her boyfriend told us that she’d been drinking and taking drugs the night before and he couldn’t wake her up. She was just sleeping it all off and was quite easy to wake. In fact, she looked annoyed to see three men in green standing at her bedside without invitation. It all became a bit uncomfortable and it was agreed that the boyfriend would keep an eye on her and let her sleep. I could imagine the argument they'd have later on.

Another explosion under a pavement next and I was sent to the West, where flames had been seen shooting out from a paving slab after it had ‘gone off’. I watched as other resources turned up and the Fire Service made the area safe by cordoning it. The pavement had been pushed up by the force and I wondered what was causing this phenomenon. It wasn’t until I heard of another call a few days later, in which workmen had been digging up the road and had severed through an electrical cable that was too thin and too shallow that things made sense.

According to the workmen (both of whom had to be treated for electrical burns), the cable was the wrong thickness and should have been buried deeper under the pavement; they hadn’t expected to hit it at that depth. There had been a number of short-circuits in the area whenever it rained and it looks like these cables (probably in many other places around town) are exploding when water reaches them. Keep an eye out when you are walking on wet London streets. And now there's another excuse to dig up the roads again.

My second no-trace – a Red1, life status questionable, fitted the description of a regular caller. A family had spotted him lying in the street with his tell-tale suitcase next to him. They sat in their car, called an ambulance and watched as he got up, dragged himself off to another spot and lay down again. I was sent from A to B by his antics but when I reached ‘B’, he’d moved again and I wasn’t playing any more.

A dramatic 82 year-old man who called his son and said ‘I’m dying’ prompted a race to his affluent home in which an ambulance, myself and a MRU turned up for a possible cardiac arrest, only to find him lying in his bed, feeling unwell. His daughter had rushed over too and he had all the attention he required. The run up three flights of stairs with all the necessary equipment left us hot, sweaty and looking a sight less healthy than he did.

‘Will I be going to hospital by private transport?’ he asked. I wish I was allowed to print my head’s response.

A ? Epileptic fit in the street was probably alcohol-induced because the 30 year-old man had no medical history of epilepsy and he’d been out on the binge all night. His body had shut down and his brain had followed suit. He won’t learn a thing from the experience, however.

Speaking of alcohol, my last call was for a 60 year-old woman who fell at home after going to the toilet. She banged her head on the skirting as she landed and lay in the hallway as her husband worried over her. I arrived to check her for injuries but she was adamant about not going to hospital. She was drunk and her husband had been coping with her alcoholism for many years by all accounts. I felt sorry for him and he didn’t raise his voice once with her, even when she stubbornly refused any help offered. The crew was treated to the same look of disdain that I had been given and so we left them to it – her with a deadly habit and him with a life of low emotional value.

Be safe.


Louise said...

‘Will I be going to hospital by private transport?’

Gah!!! I don't want to know the response in your head it was probably the same as mine was while reading it! What did you say to him?? Was there anything genuinely wrong with him? If there wasn't he would have got read the riot act!

I mean I've heard of Man Flu but thats pretty ******* ridiculous!

MarkUK said...

Hi Stuart,

Any chance you could change "ETOH" to "EtOH"? It throws me every time!

As a chemist by background (no, not a pharmacist), I'm very used to seeing Et as an abbreviation for the ethyl radical (and Me for methyl, Pr for proply and Bu for butyl).

However, ETOH fails to click at first and I'm thinking "Derrr..."

Sean said...

I'm from the USA and I just stumbled across your blog. It's very good. I'm looking forward to following your adventures.

Xf said...


I was courteous of course :-)

He wasn't a regular caller and he wasn't used to the NHS way, obviously. His daughter was nice and thanked us though, so I was happy enough with that.

Xf said...


I have done this for you and will try to remember to do it in future. See, I LISTEN to my readers!


Xf said...


Welcome. Thanks.