Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Clock stopping

Clock stoppingDay shift: Six calls; six by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Asleep; 1 Flu; 1 GHB overdose; 1Vomiting blood; 1 PV bleed

I bought a can of instant de-icer and used it on my car windscreen this morning (I mean my own car, not the FRU). I get up early enough, so it annoys me to get slowed down by a thick, unyielding layer of ice. The FRU doesn’t present me with this problem because it has usually been out all night and is warm and ready to go when I get into work. It’s usually dirty though; a 24-hour rotation gathers a LOT of London’s crud on the paintwork. Sometimes I get a chance to wash it, sometimes I don’t. This morning I don’t.

I have to wake up a sleeping person on a bus, so it’s obviously a Red call. In my years of serving the bus companies on behalf of the LAS, I have only ever had one truly unconscious person to deal with (if memory serves) and he was an overdose. Usually I just jump on board, wake them up and jump off again. I should get a bus pass for it.

I arrived and the bus driver apologised because they aren’t allowed to touch people, apparently. So, I wake the guy up and he springs to life. ‘Aw, just ten more minutes’ he pleads. What am I, your mum? I think.

It turns out he’s homeless and this is how he keeps warm and gets some sleep. I feel sorry for him and tell him that I will arrange for London Street Rescue to help him. He agrees to meet them at Trafalgar Square but wants to get the bus there. I know exactly what he’ll do if he gets on another bus; he’ll fall asleep on a warm seat and we’ll be called back out to wake him up. So I advise him to walk and get some fresh air.

I’m glad that we yellow and green people of the LAS command respect and that our advice is always heeded and taken seriously. Except we’re not and its not- I watched as the homeless young man jumped on the next bus coming down the road.

A Red2 for someone with ‘flu again. She has fallen and has a head injury, the description tells me as I speed toward the bank where she works. The crew are on scene with me and when we get to her she’s lolling around on a sofa in the basement with a concerned colleague watching over her. Okay, she does have emotional issues caused by recent events but she has no head injury and her ‘flu is not an emergency.

The bank is closed for staff training, so it’s eerily quiet down in its bowels. It’s an old bank and there is a display case on the wall as soon as you enter the front door. It contains items I wouldn’t expect to see in such an establishment – guns. About half a dozen aged rifles hang in there as if mocking any would-be robber who dares to cross the threshold. I found it bizarre; it would be like having a display case full of various pools of vomit in an ambulance station. There is a valid analogy there – you just have to think about it.

A cancelled call and a good example of why the system needs a re-think. If we get a call for someone fitting, it’s Red. If they recover and are no longer fitting, it gets down-graded to Amber. The call I was cancelled on was for someone who’d collapsed (near faint) so it was a Red2 BUT when the update stated that she was ‘coming around’ and ‘thinks she might be pregnant’ the status of that call remained unchanged. Every single element of fact on it suggests it is an Amber1, if at all. Personally I would have given it a Green status or suggested she visited her GP and got a test.

Incidentally, this is an example of downgrading calls if you were at all curious. We can do it when we want to. FRED does it too.

The MRU was on scene when I got to the flat of a 33 year-old man who’d overdosed on GHB. It wasn’t his first time and he’d been in hospital on an almost regular basis because of his own stupidity. Now he was on the floor of the cramped little room being narc’d by my colleague (you might as well in case opioids have also been taken).

His two worried friends stood by as he began to clench and thrash and wriggle around. He wasn’t aware of anything really, he was tripping. Sometimes his episodes were so active that his mates thought he was fitting. He may well have been because he was mushing his brain with toxins.

A 56 year-old alcoholic lady who was vomiting blood kept apologising because her visiting relatives had called an ambulance. ‘She has Pancreatitis and if she bleeds she may bleed to death’, they stated confidently as I asked them what had happened.

True enough, if she has oesophageal varices, she may bleed to death as a result of sudden rupture but the little spots of blood stained sputum that they had collected in a plastic bag for us to examine didn’t convince me…or the crew, that this was the case.

I radioed Control and asked if they had sent me the next call by mistake. It was for a woman who was bleeding PV after an operation. She was still in hospital and a stretcher had been requested. I don’t carry a stretcher and my role is limited to first response, so I couldn’t see why on Earth I would be helpful to medical staff in this instance. Yes, I was to continue I was told.

So, I arrived and the nurse who met me took me straight to a small operating theatre where a heavily sedated woman lay, surrounded by a full theatre team, including a surgeon and several doctors. What was I supposed to do here? Stop the clock was the only good answer.

It was embarrassing because they all knew I was useless to them and all I could do was smile, chat and wait for the ambulance to arrive – but, hey that doesn’t matter because Orcon has again been served. Disregard the possibility that a real patient elsewhere could have done with my help.

Again, this is the system’s fault and our Government encourages such nonsense to appease the plaintiff public who think that targets mean better service. They are wrong.

Be safe.


Anonymous said...

How bizarre, and a waste of resources. Targets are things to shoot at. Not things to be met. Our 'leaders' only want them so they can then manipulate the figures in such a way that suits them. The fact that they are meaning less and pointless and that the figures are crap as well totally escapes them.

PS Stuart, I enjoyed your book, when is the next one coming?

Tony F

Anonymous said...

i would just like to wish you a merry xmas and happy new year. have enjoyed reading your blog over the last year and hope you continue....

thanks for all your good work and that of your colleagues across the country. 2 came to the aid of my mum last nite, i am forever eternally grateful for the fantastic service you all give



Anonymous said...

I really don't understand my colleagues who send FRU's on jobs like that.. blatantly inappropriate. No common sense some of them I'm afraid.