Sunday, 28 September 2008

Fresh meat in Fresher's Week

Night shift: Eleven calls; three assisted-only, all the others by ambulance.

Stats: 4 eTOH; 1 RTC with facial injury; 1 Unwell adult; 1 drug overdose; 1 DIB; 1 Mental health problems; 1 Faint; 1 Assault with minor injuries.

Fresher’s week and all hell breaks loose in the bars and clubs as young, soon-to-be doctors and scientists of all kinds learn how to become as drunk as possible in as little time as possible. To them it’s a rite of passage but to us it’s a long night and damaging for the all too important performance figures.

My first drunk was a 30 year-old alcoholic at a hostel. Known to be aggressive, he didn’t let anybody down and spent the time we had on scene with him abusing the crew, so he was left where he was, sitting in his own urine as the staff tried to figure out what to do next.

Up the road a 45 year-old man was hit in the face by the mirror of a bus. He had minor facial injuries and, after the crew had tidied him up, he declined to go to hospital. I couldn’t blame him, on a night like this you don’t want to be sitting in A&E waiting for hours to be seen. Not when it seemed like every eighteen to twenty year-old from the local Universities were being brought in out of their skulls.

A 30 year-old night shift worker lay on the floor of her sprawling workplace, feigning hypoglycaemia for some reason. Her comrades were so convinced of her illness that I arrived to find one of them shoving a spoonful of tomato sauce in her mouth. Her BM was normal, as were all of her vital signs. She didn’t speak at first but then she began to communicate once she realised the crew was going to take her to hospital. I don’t believe there was anything wrong with this lady – I think she just wanted to get away from work for the night. This happens commonly and I wish it was that easy for us sometimes.

The calls for ‘unconscious’ persons began soon after this and I attended a 25 year-old male who was slumped in the street after taking alcohol and drugs on board. The police were on scene and the crew arrived soon after me, so all I had to do, as usual in these circumstances, was carry out my obs.

Not only do the young learned people of this part of London get as drunk as possible but a good proportion of them, in denial by proxy, are said to have had their drinks ‘spiked’. You can usually tell the difference between a truly drugged drinker and a truly drunk one. The 26 year-old female I went to the aid of was truly drunk. Her friend, the proxy witness to the fact that she MUST have been drugged by some filthy man because she NEVER behaves likes this after a drink, couldn’t even tell us where she was exactly and it took an area search and a few more calls back to find her. By that time I’d grown bored of it and the crew took care of her (she walked onto the vehicle).

I had just got back to station when I was called out again with the crew who’d been there. A 22 year-old man was ‘unconscious’ in the street, a few hundred yards down the road from the station itself. He was lying on the pavement, surrounded by helpful people. He had vomited heavily and was clearly too drunk to go anywhere. In fact, how he got as far as he did was a miracle.

The helpers weren’t all impressed and one of them said ‘are you sure he needs to go to hospital?’ He followed this query with ‘is it worth taking him?’ Well, no I would have said but the man was useless to himself and everyone around him, so he had to go somewhere safe. Ironically, he’d chosen to fall down on the doorstep of a pub. Maybe he was trying to say something.

I wasn’t required for the next call; a 2 month-old who’d ‘gone stiff’ and now had DIB. The crew was on scene and this would probably turn out to be no more than a high temperature episode.

Back into the West End and I watched as a 22 year-old girl, who’d been drinking of course, howled and moaned her way into the ambulance with the struggling crew as her boyfriend and other men (who would consider themselves ‘decent types’ no doubt) harassed them. I put myself between them to diffuse the situation a little and let the crew get on with their job. The girl was convinced she was having a stroke. We were more convinced of the power of alcohol. The crew had probably just dealt with half a dozen of these calls earlier and had more to come as the night wore on.

I was flagged down as I attempted to get back to the station for a coffee. One of those pedicab drivers (cyclists) told me that someone was lying unconscious on the pavement, so I went to have a look and called it in as a running call. The man on the ground was known to me – he’s a Soho local and is always aggressive, even though he wears a selection of gold crucifixes and other religious bits and pieces. His hands are adorned with obscene rings and he has a large gold (he likes gold) watch on his wrist. None of the jewellery looks worth anything but that won’t stop someone from robbing him if he goes to sleep in public places like that, so I shook him awake and got the full-faced wrath of God for my trouble.

He leaped to his feet, threw down his jacket and postured for a fight with me. I calmed him down and took a step back until he simmered. Then he blessed me and told me how much God loved me. I had to accept that the miracle of not getting a punch in the face from him for trying to help must have been some indication of that love. He shuffled off and I went back to the car and stood down the Cavalry.

Back to someone’s workplace for a 30 year-old female with the most amazing brown eyes I have ever seen (and I don’t mean that in a sleazy way, of course – they were just very striking). She’d fainted on arrival at work and she had a history of this but nothing had ever been diagnosed. She declined to go to hospital because she felt better by the time I got to her but I managed to persuade her to go with the crew to the ambulance and get checked out. She was happy to do this but still insisted that she wasn’t going to hospital. At last, a night-shift worker who wasn’t using us as a means to get time off.

I’ve been to many calls where door security people at clubs have been accused, rightly or wrongly, of assault. I think in most cases the person making the allegation has done something wrong and during the ejection process has resisted, so that reasonable force became a little less reasonable. I won’t make a judgment on it because I never see these alleged assaults and door security have enough work as it is just dealing with some of the idiots they have to control after a boozy night out.

My last patient of the night, a 24 year-old man, claimed he was punched around the face and ‘strangled’ to the point where he believed he would die after an altercation with one of the doormen. To be fair, his story, related to me as he sat in my car and we waited for the ambulance, was full of holes. It sounded to me like he’d started an argument with one of the men when he was asked to leave for being too drunk and annoying. In the real world, if you argue when being asked to leave a club, you are more than likely going to be dragged out forcefully. During that process, if you continue to struggle or fight with them, more force will be used. That’s just the way it is, right or wrong, as I said.

I jump to nobody’s defence here you understand but if a drunken person tries to be aggressive with me, I will not allow it (I’d stop short at strangling, punching or kicking, however).

Be safe.


brokenangel said...

Jesus do these uni not have fresher rep to make sure the one that are heading for too drunk get back to their halls.

Dragonfly said...

Tomato sauce down the mouth? Interesting......

Jake said...

You know, it might be worth bearing in mind that there's more than one way to spike a drink; some former work colleagues once took exception to my attempt to moderate my alcohol intake when they dragged me out for a curry, and decided it would be amusing to have the barman top up my beer with vodka. If I hadn't cottoned on and walked off on them before I'd had more than four pints then God knows what would have happened to me. I dare say the vast majority of the drunken undergraduates you scrape off the pavement every evening just have absolutely no self-control and/or nothing better to do except take endless, semi-involuntary swigs of cheap lager whilst pretending that the pounding music at ear-bleeding volume doesn't really eliminate any social aspect to drinking and just turn the whole think into an exercise in collective mass-suicide by Fosters (I fucking hate 'student-friendly' bars!), but it's definitely something to think about.

Little Miss Ileostomy said...

Brokenangel, alot of the Unis in the West End have their SU bars very close to the buildings where they have lectures, but about 3 zones away from their Halls (unless you are very lucky).

At least I went to uni as a grown up... Not that I ever got "that" drunk (well only a few times), but I always managed to get myself home on the tube!

kat said...

The stories of drunks being scraped up off the street make me cringe, because I was one of those loosers in 1st year of uni. Not because I had no self control but because I drank until I could blank out everything I didn't like in a proper looser.

I haven't been drunk for almost a year (although I still drink)I've had payback though, dealing with drunken friends and friend of friends and passed out people in the street.