Day shift: Five calls; one assisted-only, four by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Hyperventilation; 1 ETOH fit; 1 Chest pain; 1 ETOH
On the steps of the Albert Hall, a 16 year-old girl sat with her friends. They’d been out all night drinking vodka and she was paying the price at 6.30am. She’d vomited a lot and was now panicking, hyperventilating and generally being sixteen. ‘Don’t tell my mum’, she wailed as she was led to the ambulance after sitting for five minutes in my car to warm up.
I visited an alcoholic, drug-taking 23 year-old man for the second time in my short career with LAS next. I’d treated him years earlier and when I saw the address come up, I knew it was him. Sometimes you never forget a patient.
He lives at home with his parents and he puts them through Hell, to be honest. They find him unconscious on a regular basis and, even though I haven’t seen him myself for a number of years, he’s been a regular visitor to hospital. His mother stands in the doorway and cries and his father paces the rooms, searching for an answer somewhere. There isn’t one; the guy doesn’t care and has threatened to kill himself on several occasions.
This time, he doesn’t look well. He’s had a fit and he’s pale, sweaty and very agitated. He doesn’t want to go to hospital and there’s not a lot I can do about that. Only when my colleagues arrive and spend half an hour persuading and threatening him with the police (for his own protection) does he relent and travel with them.
Ironically, when a private doctor’s surgery has a crisis, they call an ambulance just like anyone else…the NHS is important to the private sector. Unfortunately, my attempt to reach the posh doctor’s building was thwarted by the stupidity of the council, who think it’s wise to place bollards at every entry point to the square, making it traffic-free and impossible to access by the emergency services (although I’m willing to bet the fire service has a key).
The man with the chest pain, possibly having a heart attack inside the building had to wait a further three unnecessary minutes as I parked up and walked to the location. The doctor had come out by this time and was hurriedly leading me to his patient who was two floors up and lying on an examination couch.
He was pale and a little off but otherwise stable. He had developed chest pain as he climbed the stairs to the doctor’s surgery (the doc might consider relocating to a ground floor room) but he had no cardiac history. The doctor had given him GTN and an aspirin and now his pain was gone.
When the crew arrived, the patient was suitably furnished with a line, courtesy of me and off he went, via chair, to the ambulance for an ECG. The doctor followed to have a look and seemed a lot happier when the graph appeared to show nothing of interest.
One of our regulars visited the National Portrait Gallery, got bored and feigned epilepsy, prompting the concerned staff to call an ambulance. I was despatched with a CRU and both of us arrived at the same time. We both recognised our ‘patient’ and spoke to him about his behaviour. He has a learning disability and wanders around on his own all day until he feels he can’t cope. Then he usually tells someone he feels ill, or is about to have a seizure. Nothing puts the fear of death into a MOP than the phrase ‘I think I’m going to have a fit’.
Once we’d checked him out and he’d agreed he hadn’t been feeling unwell and hadn’t needed an ambulance, he was left to carry on looking at art he may, or may not have understood. ‘Can I have a drink?’ he asked. The two female staff members obliged. He sips his drink, pauses, thinks then says ‘Can the lady show me around?’ Now, that’s just plain cheeky.
My last call was a long one. I stood over the unconscious body of a drunken young man as he lay in a puddle of his own vomit, underground in a tube station. An off-duty cop helped me as I set up fluids and dealt with his low glucose level. My volunteer drip-stand waited almost an hour with me until at last a crew arrived to scrape the drinker off the floor and onto a bed. I’m sure the officer had better things to do with his free time but I was very glad of his help. He even invited me to pop into his station in the City for a free coffee and a bite to eat anytime I was in the area, which was very nice of him. Unfortunately, I might not be able to take up his offer because (1) I don’t get to work that area much at all and (2) I’ve completely forgotten where he said it was. You’d think a free breakfast would be a priority memory for me. I’m useless.