Sunday, 26 October 2008

Friday in Hell

Night shift: Seven calls; one assisted-only; six by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Chest infection; 2 Stabbings; 1 eTOH/drugs; 1 eTOH fall with facial injuries; 1 eTOH; 3 Assaulted with head injuries.

Friday night and although I’ve written up seven calls, there were more but I’m too tired to record them all. I had an observer with me tonight – an LAS bod from Admin called Scott. This was his first trip out in a Fast Response Unit. Probably his last after he’d witnesses a typical weekend starter.


A Red1 for a ‘choking’ was in fact nothing of the sort – the patient, a 77 year wheelchair-bound lady had a chest infection but her call for help somehow translated as life threatening to the Careline people, who tend to panic if not sure. The rapid trip to the flat was complicated by our (the crew was on scene with me) inability to find the exact address given. We ran into a block of flats with the worry that we’d left a potentially dying woman behind locked doors too long to save her. There were no police units available to assist us should we need to force the door and I intended to do just that if we found there was no way in.

Unfortunately the block we’d gone into didn’t have the relevant flat in it, even though the buzzers listed it. We’d gone past the little gate that opened into the patient’s home and when we found it we knocked loudly. There was no reply and I tried the door. We’d been told it was locked but it opened right into her front room and there she was…sitting in her wheelchair with a surprised look on her face.

‘I thought I’d locked that’, she said.

‘We were told you were choking’, I said.

‘No, I’ve had a bad chest infection, that’s all’.

I left the crew to deal with her and I met the police, who were running towards me in panic mode. I told them it was a false alarm and they wound themselves down to catch their collective breaths. It was a punchy start to the shift.


A 19 year-old man was stabbed in the back of the head for no apparent reason as he walked through a busy West End street. I say no apparent reason because his behaviour as I dressed his wound, which was deep enough to require stitches, was shifty to say the least. Police were on scene and his answers to questions like ‘what’s your name’ and ‘where do you live’ were delayed and vague. He made no eye contact and continually looked about as if he was late for something…a gang meeting perhaps. Very judgmental of me, I know, but that’s how it felt.

After he’d been treated a man appeared at the corner of the restaurant where the patient had been, fiddled with his belt and positioned himself at the corner, near the entrance. I knew what was coming. Bearing in mind that the police were right there with me, interviewing the victim and the place was heaving with people going about their night’s business, I felt sure he wouldn’t have the bottle to go through with his next action…but he did. He unzipped his fly and began urinating right onto the pavement in full view of me, my observer, the police, CCTV and hundreds of others. It was only when I asked the nearest police officer to intervene that he was noticed.

‘What are you doing?’ asked the cop.

‘I’m pissing, what does it look like?’ replied the drunken and obviously stupid man.

One of the plain clothed police officers turned to him as he continued his acidic waterfall display and asked ‘do you think that’s alright then?’

The first officer then added ‘your lucky I’m busy with something more serious at the moment’.

The man shook his weapon of mass destruction and grinned. It was the grin of an idiot on patrol. Then he buzzed off after several more warnings from the cops. It was moot because the damage had been done and a little river of urine travelled towards my boots, which I deftly lifted out of the way after a quick warning from my observer (who was very observant, obviously).

The eating customers in the restaurant had not only been treated to the sight of the man with the gashed head, they’d also had a special bonus treat and got to watch Mr. Urinator do his thing for them. Cool.


I waited a long time for an ambulance on the next call. I was with a 40 year-old woman who’d been found collapsed, apparently drunk, on the floor of a club. The security people had dragged her outside (they do that) and left her on the pavement for me to collect – like rubbish.

At first she did seem drunk but her behaviour wasn’t consistent with just alcohol and I found out she was a nurse. Her boyfriend was with her and he was an EMT, so it was a big family get-together for medical types, except she wasn’t enjoying it. Her breathing was laboured and stertorous and she stopped and breath-held every now and again, for reasons I cannot explain. It wasn’t respiratory depression, she just wanted to stop.

Meanwhile a small, wide black woman from the crowd was shouting and swearing and making a real nuisance of herself, claiming that her mother was a nurse and that she knew what was happening and that I didn’t have a clue. She stood over the head of the patient just at the moment I noticed her breathing stop again and she obstructed me so much that I couldn’t move to reposition her in order to assist with her airway. This kind of obstruction is illegal now but the mad midget had no intention of letting me go about my business without putting herself in the frame.

I asked the door staff to help me but they were stopped in their tracks when she belted out ‘you can’t touch me, that’s assault’. She was eventually shepherded away by someone else, a man who became quite abusive towards her and who was hell bent on punching her lights out. Unprofessionally, I thought it would be a good idea.

Now my patient was floppy and her breathing wasn’t good, so I put oxygen on and prepared for the worst, although I still felt she was over-playing this. Her boyfriend remained strangely calm about it all – this was only their first date and I doubted he’d be inviting her out for another.

I called again and again for backup until I was forced to ask for urgent police when the mouthy woman from a few minutes ago returned to my horizon. She made racist comments about me and generally insulted me. I’ve never been called a bitch before, it was a new experience and I didn’t quite know what to do with it. All I could hear, despite the presence of dozens of other noisy people, was her shrill crackling voice as she berated me. I’d never met this lady in my life before. I must have done something to her in my past life…perhaps when I was a practicing psychiatrist.

Almost an hour past and the police had arrived and contained the little horror south of me and my patient. I could still hear her arguing with them. Now she was telling them her relative was in the CID and she knew lawyers too. I was gobsmacked that she had any siblings because I’m quite sure they would all have topped themselves after ten minutes in her presence.

The ambulance arrived and a Station Officer landed to give me backup too. I left the DSO to solve the little matter of the poison pixie while I concerned myself with the patient, who was still in bad shape. The crew took her away and I followed on but before I left I witnessed the police being harangued by the wicked witch to the point that they looked very tired of it all. They weren’t even going to do the paperwork for her and advised her, in the strongest terms, to leave the scene. She sloped off, shouting all the way, to the underground station where she would no doubt have entertained many people all the way to wherever she came from. Hell’s my guess.

Later on I was told that the naughty nurse had discharged herself from hospital with nothing wrong except too much alcohol in her blood. She’d been playing it just as I had suspected.


Outside St. Thomas’ hospital a little criminal, escorted by two big police officers, attacked them both as they took him away. He belted one of them so hard he hit the ground and all I knew of this was the frantic run up the ramp by one of the officers when he asked a crew for help. I drove down behind the ambulance and the poor cop was on the ground with a bruised face and a broken ego. The other cop was pinning Mr. Nasty to the pavement. How can a man like that possibly contribute to society?


It’s refreshing to know that we aren’t the only people that patients can make look like fools. A 35 year-old man who fell (drunk) and smashed his face was sitting with two PCSO’s in the street when I arrived. ‘I can’t get a word out of him’, one of the officers said as I knelt beside the bloodied patient.

‘What’s your name?’ I asked.

‘Mike’, he replied without hesitation.

That left the PCSO looking bewildered.


Then three young soldiers were set upon in W1 by a gang of youths; I watched as police vehicles, one after the other, raced towards the scene until I was called to attend. Each of the three had head injuries and one was laying on the ground – he had suffered the most. Weapons had been used and the patient on the deck described them as ‘batons like the cops use’. His two mates were wandering around as the police tried to contain them and, most unhelpful as usual, a female companion was dramatically running among them, crying and shouting out as if the whole world had ended for her.

I asked for two more ambulances and we got all three to hospital, especially my patient on the ground who had to be collared and boarded. The least injured was taken in my car because I only got two ambulances in the end.


Another assault in the early hours and I carefully approached a small car with steamed up windows because there were a number of people inside and I wasn’t entirely sure of my safety. The call had described a patient ‘bleeding from the eye’ and when the driver’s window was wound down at my request I could see four young black girls in the vehicle. One of them, in the driver’s seat, was holding her head as if crying. She had been attacked and the assailant had thrown her to the ground, kicked her and stamped on her hard enough for the heel of her shoe to pierce her eyeball. I had a close look at the damage and I’m sure she’ll have to live without sight in that eye now. She is only 19.


A drunken Chinese 21 year-old ended my shift. He lolled on the pavement, surrounded by his noisy, photo-taking friends. Every time I tried to carry out obs on him he’d thrash out at me and the crew that arrived decided enough was enough and called the police. They subdued him eventually and we dragged him onto a stretcher as he slumbered in alcohol-land. He needed a big needle and fluids and I obliged.

Be safe.

5 comments:

Lola Snow said...

You really weren't kidding with that post title, were you? Bloody hell! Do all paramedics have to deal with people like that, or are you just blessed with a weirdo-magnet? Which ever it is, I hope you get danger money! Remind me never to move to central London!
Lola x

Emily T said...

This is why I marvel at ambulance crews and such - I'd never have the patience to deal with all the drunk and agressive people you seem to come across.

Feathers said...

Some day!! Just left wondering why on earth a Nurse would be playing it.....seems unusual thing for a Nurse to do, maybe just prone to being dramatic :)
The girl with the eye, is awful.

Anonymous said...

phew!! was begining to think this sort of shift only took place in brighton. For me its the "SCREAMING HYSTERIA" thats the hardest to deal with, more traumatic and exhausting than any of our "duties"

kat86 said...

"seems unusual thing for a Nurse to do"
We had a nursy friend out with us last night and she got so drunk that she was vile and abusive. She also thought we were boring because we went out for a good time and have a laugh not get utterly wasted (and make a fool of ourselves).