Thursday, 22 January 2009

Private parking

Don't panic - it's a stock photograph!

Night shift: four calls; all by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Faint; 1 DIB; 1 Assault with nose injury; 1 Hypothermia.

It rained most of the night, so people were disinclined to go outside and get hammered. That meant I had a fairly quiet shift. That and the fact that we had a million ambulances on the road and no less than three cars were working in my area. Unfortunately (and before anyone starts ranting about how little we do) this is just the calm before the storm. When the weather improves and/or the weekend approaches, things will get back to normal and we will be dealing with 4,000 calls a night.


I met someone I haven’t seen for at least a year tonight. I was in Leicester Square watching the place being packed up after Tom Cruise had graced it’s pavement for his Premiere, when a little guy in a wheelchair rolled up with a big smile. He’s been around for years and I’ve commented on him several times on this blog.

He’s a helpful type; a first aider, he says. He loves to get involved in calls when we are around and he’ll direct traffic and move people out of the way, even though it isn’t necessary. I asked him how he was and what he was doing. He was dressed smartly with a shirt and tie on and I suspect he was hoping Mr. Cruise would take notice of him.

‘I’m working now’, he said.

‘Doing what?’ I asked.

‘I’m a street performer’.

I looked at him in his wheelchair and tried to work out what kind of performance he would give but gave up and asked him instead.

‘I’m a wheelchair break dancer’, he told me with a proud grin.


Theatres are places in which one can see a good (or bad) show, enjoy the company of several thousand other people, (if you are into that sort of thing)...and faint. We get lots of calls for people passing out in those old, hot places. So I wasn’t surprised when I was called to a 60 year-old who’d collapsed in one. She was recovering in the cooler lobby when I arrived and within minutes a crew had turned up and she was taken into the ambulance for an ECG and further checks. She was taken to hospital on advice.


I drove for miles in the mucky rain and in poor visibility just to find a crew on scene with the 82 year-old UTI patient who was suffering from DIB. I wasn’t required.


Later on, off to Trafalgar Square for a 23 year-old man who had been assaulted. A crew was searching the area when I arrived and the police were none the wiser about the location of the alleged victim.

Eventually, he was found and taken aboard the ambulance with a minor nose injury after having been punched in the face at random.


My last call gave me a bit of a fright. I was crawling down a dark street at five in the morning, with the rain making things difficult to see. I was looking for a man who had been found ‘unconscious’ on the ground. As I continued down the street, I began to pull over so that I could see the house numbers better. I had been given a number outside which the man was supposedly laying. Just as I drew closer to the kerb, I noticed a light-coloured lump and identified a human shape, a few feet from my wheels.

The man was lying in the road...in a parking bay! I could have killed him. I was a matter of seconds away from running over his head with my front wheel. This was a close call and if I hadn’t been looking in the right place at the right time, I wouldn’t be writing this.

Working solo in the car means driving slowly and looking out for your patient or the windmill at the same time. It takes concentration and you have to stay alert. That’s difficult to do at 5am on a dark, rainy morning.

I wasn’t pleased with him. I knew he was just sleeping...they usually are. The fact that a hostel was just around the corner meant that the chances of him being homeless and possibly alcoholic were high.

I woke him up, took him to the car and that’s when my dysfunctional windmill appeared. He wandered out from his building and said ‘Yeah, I called you. He’s been there for ages’.

I thought why didn’t you wait with him and wave at me when I came down the street? I wouldn’t have had my close call if you’d done that.

Anyway, the man was very cold – 34.6 degrees and the crew took him to hospital when they arrived five minutes later. He was a cold and wet, homeless alcoholic and he almost became a dead one.

Be safe.

2 comments:

James said...

wow.. that was close.. would that be your career gone then, if you did hit him by no fault of your own?

Lesley said...

You don't ever need to apologise for having a quiet shift!... nor think people will criticise you for it.

Anyone who starts to rant should stop and think how they might cope if they had to tackle some of the things you have to deal with.

Every quiet shift means that fewer folk are sick or in danger ...so 'Hooray'!