Sunday, 11 January 2009

Two long days

Day shifts: 5 calls; one assisted-only, four by ambulance.

Stats: 1 eTOH; 1 Hypoglycaemic; 1DIB; 1 RTC with neck injury; 1 Fall with ? fracture.

Well, when there’s nothing much for me to do the shift seems to drag on forever. Over these two shifts I spent a lot of time managing vehicle swaps because of defects – moving equipment back and forth, washing and VDI’ing. There was also a weekend of protest going on in various places – the Israeli-Gaza conflict, if it can still be called that, has ignited emotions long suppressed by British Palestinians and Jews and although the embassy mini-riot took place out of my area, the Trafalgar Square demo was on my doorstep.

But my first day shift involved heading out to a 25 year-old man who’d fallen and hit a pole because he was too drunk to stand – gravity got the better of him and I didn’t deal with him – an ambulance was on scene. It also involved taking my regular car off the road when it developed a high pitched whining sound from the engine. The power dropped as I crossed the Euston Road (not the best place to slow down) on blue lights on my way to a diabetic man who was ‘not alert’. I could tell it was a transmission problem – the gears weren’t changing on cue and the engine was revving way too high to be healthy. Nevertheless I got on scene and dealt with the patient before I called the problem in. Luckily the diabetic man had recovered and all I had to do was take a couple of sets of obs and check that his BM was back to normal.

The man’s wife had called because he wasn’t making sense and his BM was 1.9, which is pretty low. She fed him cakes and sandwiches whilst waiting for my arrival. Good thing she did because it’s what he needed and it brought him back to normal very quickly. I told the crew I could deal with it when they appeared at the door ten minutes after me and they were happy to leave me to it.

The man’s insulin had recently been changed and now his BM was all over the place. He’d been managing his diabetes all his life and now, at the age of 50, he was struggling with it, often waking up in the night feeling hypo. I suggested he get back to his GP about it.

I got a handshake and a smile as I left (always warm and fuzzy) and went back to the car in the hope that switching off the engine had miraculously cured the problem. It hadn’t; the engine whined just as badly as before every time I used the accelerator, which is obviously a lot or I’d never get anywhere.

I wasn’t getting anywhere fast in any case – it felt like I was stuck in first gear. I could see the numbers scrolling on the digital panel in front of me – first, second, third, fourth…but the higher gears didn’t equate to the movement of the car. I tried not to look left or right in case people were wondering what the hell I was doing as the car screamed its way back to base.

I took it back to the workshop and the mechanic checked everything and told me I was a liar. Well, he didn’t say that but it was in his eyes. ‘The car’s fine’, he said.

I took it back out and it gave me trouble straight away. I had to turn around and go back for a second opinion. This time I invited the mechanic to test drive it himself. He did and he declared that I was right – the transmission was rubbish. The car would have to go back to the manufacturers for repair…or a funeral.

So I hunted for a replacement and discovered that our only spare car had been borrowed by another sector. I was given a lift to get it but when I got back to base, washed the muck from it, re-kitted it and prepared to start work again, I found a blown bulb on one of the rotating blue lights (yep, its an aging vehicle). So, a failed VDI and another off-the-road call to Control. I bet they thought I was playing games with them. It was now late afternoon and I’d gone on two calls, only one of which was creditable.

The RAC man appeared an hour later but couldn’t find the right bulb for it, so he offered to cannibalise the yellow lights on his van for me. By that time the next pilot had shown up for the start of his night shift and I had to explain everything that had gone on and why he faced the prospect of spending twelve hours working in a smaller, less tidy vehicle with an RAC light bulb fitted to it.

I went home and hoped the whole vehicle mess would be better in the morning.

Our second Zafira was back home when I got in the next day, so I did another vehicle swap, cleaned yet another car and went to work. Sorted.

A 43 year-old DIB patient was placed in the hands of the crew as I arrived, so I left them to it and waited a few hours at the station (and on area cover) before my next call to a RTC at a busy junction.

The car had swerved into a barrier – the front of it was crushed and mangled. Two people were in it and a SJA ambulance crew was on scene providing aid. A collar had been fitted to the driver but nobody was holding his neck still, so I asked one of the SJA bods to get in the back and do this for me while I looked in on the passenger, an elderly lady who seemed none the worse for wear.

The car had been travelling at less than 30mph when the driver got confused by his navigation system and tried to correct his turn. It was too late for him however and he travelled towards the pedestrians on the pavement, only to be stopped abruptly by the safety barrier. Nobody was hurt...except the driver, who complained of neck pain...thus the collar.

The crew arrived a few minutes after me and we set about extricating the man from his vehicle – it was a very tight fit because the car was so small and none of us wanted to call the LFB out to cut the roof off (it seems so dramatic), so the man was eventually taken out on a board via the back door of his little hatchback. More personnel had shown up; officers from the incident teams that had been deployed locally for the anti-war march and another LAS crew. They helped us to achieve our objectives – one man free of his damaged vehicle and one elderly lady safe and secure in the back of the SJA ambulance. Neither could speak good (or any, in the case of the lady) English but I managed to get an interpreter on the line from Language Line so that the Cantonese they spoke could be translated. So, all in all, a good job by the team I think. Unfortunately, the traffic chaos we left behind with the police meant that not everyone was impressed by our professionalism and skilled planning!

Before I went home I was sent to an alleyway behind a large museum to tend to a head injury sustained by a staff member who had fallen down stairs inside the building. I don’t know about you but museum buildings have always had a creepy kind of atmosphere for me – especially at night. It was getting dark now and I was driving well into the bowels of this mini-fortress. I wasn’t uncomfortable – that would be stupid – but I think my inner child remembered how I felt about these places when I was younger. I guess it’s the thought that so many dead things are in them. Old and dead.

The man was fine; he had a possible fractured cheek but he hadn’t lost consciousness and was alert and stable. The crew was on scene within five minutes and I was released into the wild again so that I could continue my trip homeward. I crept along the same dark and narrow alleyways I had come in through and not one mummified corpse attacked me. Not one.

Be safe.


Louise said...

Awww hope your car is better soon! They all seem to be getting 'sick' at the moment, I saw a zafira from the station I'm based at being towed back on the weekend -It must be the cold weather!
Enjoying the blog as always though, keep it up! :-)

Ethans Mummy said...

just thought id let u know youve inspired me to blog (ARGHHHHH)

thought you might be interested! was just wondering how you link to the medical info ??

thanks hon, keep up the good work xx sam