Day shift: Five calls; all by ambulance.
Stats: 1 High temperature; 1 Abdo pain; 1 Head injury; 1 RTC with ? injuries; 1 Collapse ? cause.
A mum and baby were ill somewhere in the north and I was sent to check them out. Two ambulances were already in the same street attending to someone else when I arrived and a vehicle was parked outside the address I was going into. The crew was inside the flat dealing with a mum who complained of ‘pain all over’ and a baby with a high temperature (30c). The baby needed to go to hospital without a doubt; the mother didn’t seem to have anything wrong with her except lethargy.
And a 34 year-old woman told us she had chest pain and DIB but didn’t. She had abdominal pain which she’d suffered for three days. She didn’t call her G.P. and thought an ambulance would be more suitable.
On Oxford Street I raced to an 18 year-old boy who’d walked into a lamp post and collapsed. When I got on scene his father came up to the car and said ‘don’t worry, take your time…it’s not an emergency’. So just to make sure we’d ‘dotted our I’s’, the MRU arrived on lights and sirens. HEMS wasn’t coming thankfully.
The Australian lad had simply walked into a post when he wasn’t looking (probably distracted by all the sights of Oxford Street…and the shops). He’d smacked his head hard, wobbled a bit then collapsed in the street for a few seconds. I found him sitting at a table outside a café looking none the worse for wear except for a tiny cut above his eye.
My MRU colleague left when it became clear he was redundant and the ambulance appeared a few minutes after I’d settled the young man into the back seat of the car for obs as his father and brother waited outside. His trip to hospital may be less of a story to tell back home than his experience with the rapid and somewhat overwhelming emergency response he got in Central London. Still, we try to please…
When cars hit people we expect an injury or two but the RTC I was called to – one that caused a fair amount of traffic chaos – was a non-runner for me as the patient seemed to be completely unhurt. A crew was on scene and after a cursory check that I wasn’t required (I wasn’t) I left them to it.
One of those infamous Red1 calls for ‘life status questionable’ but for a completely understandable reason…and one I think we could probably go some way to resolving. The caller didn’t speak any English, so when he was asked about breathing and the condition of the patient (a man who’d simply fallen down) he couldn’t answer. For that reason the big panic buttons were pressed because there is no other option – if the question cannot be answered in the affirmative then it is deemed to be negative. So, he might not be breathing; therefore Red1. When I got there the crew was chatting to the supposed non-breathing man and me and my MRU colleague (who’d arrived just ahead of me) left the scene.
Here’s my solution to this problem. We should hire a multi-lingual person and put them on a desk in Control. They needn’t be clinical, all they’d do is speak to non-English speaking callers and translate so that the patient-picture is clear and the response is appropriate. This person would only have to speak a few specific languages that are relevant to the diverse population of London and the highest statistical sample that we are likely to receive calls from. I know of at least one person on staff who already speaks up to ten languages fluently…why don’t we give him a job reducing unnecessary priority calls?
Okay, in reality I don’t know how many language-barrier type calls we receive that ultimately trigger ‘Category A’ responses but I’m willing to bet there are enough to justify a useful tool for reducing them. Just a thought.