Saturday, 14 February 2009

Punch your Valentine

Day shift: Five calls; one assisted-only and four by ambulance.

Stats: 1 RTC with back injury; 1 Assault with eye injury; 1 Faint with chest pain; 1 Asthma attack; 1 RTC with pelvic injury.

Valentine’s day is supposed to be the most romantic day of the year and it certainly promotes the romantic inclinations of the drunken few, so the night was destined to be busy and I was glad I wasn’t working it. Instead I was out attending to a young female jogger who got hit by a car at a very busy and very dangerous part of town for traffic. I don’t know if she ran into the path of the vehicle or a red light was run but she was lying in the middle of the road, surrounded by police officers, blue lights and onlookers when I arrived.

She had put a good sized ‘bulls-eye’ in the windscreen and I found out that most of her back had done that, rather than her head, which is a good thing. She was very emotional and that didn’t surprise me. She cried as she lay there waiting to be collared when the crew arrived and it took us less than five minutes to get her off the ground and into the warmth and privacy of the ambulance.

Twenty minutes after arriving on scene, I skulked off with my MRU colleague for a coffee until the next call came in.

Any illusion of the day being romantic was quickly dispelled when I pulled up on scene for a 20 year-old woman who’d allegedly been assaulted by her husband. She had been punched in the face and the police were with them – he was in the police van and she was sitting in the back seat of their car with a baby in her arms. It was a minor facial injury and I would like to think that she’d be reconsidering the type of man she’d married but, as experience has shown, they will probably make up over a nice Valentine’s meal tonight whilst he awaits his court date.

On Trafalgar Square a couple of elderly men preached over a loudspeaker from the base of Nelson’s Column. I listened to them because nobody else was and hundreds of tourists clambered around the plinth where they sat talking about God, Jesus and all the usual stuff we never hear properly. I’m not particularly into this kind of bible-bashing but I did catch something that interested me – a quote from the bible in which Jesus had said something about Prophets being listened to anywhere except in their own country and among their own families (I’m sure one or two of you will know the exact quote – I forgot to write it down). This had me thinking because, whether you believe or not, Jesus had a lot of things to say that make prefect sense even now.

People with anything to say of relevance will find enemies among their own; it’s a given and that’s why we are so fragmented as a society. Some of you may have a talent that is overlooked by those close to you but admired and understood by strangers. Large companies and organisations have the same problem – many of them cannot see the value of the people who work for them, even though everybody else can. Governments pay more attention to the outside world than the very people who elected them.

I had a salient point to make but in the midst of time between then and writing this now, I have mislaid it somewhere in my memory that I no longer have access to – I’ve forgotten the password. I probably lost track of my thoughts when I watched a young girl clamber up onto one of the lions with a peace flag in her hand. She waved it around at everybody and nobody, then slipped off and crashed to the ground in a heap with the flag flapping around her face – that’ll learn ya! (as Mrs G would say).

A stoical 78 year-old woman who fainted at a museum just after experiencing chest pain told me that she had suffered a few ‘twinges’ before but had ignored them. She wasn’t much for making a fuss, you see.

She lay on the first aid couch, pain-free and recovering from her collapse while I carried out a full set of obs and found nothing untoward. Her ECG could have been taken from a teenager and so, despite the strongest advice, she declined to go to hospital and decided to continue her day out with a friend to look after her.

A call to the underground next, for an asthmatic female who, on close inspection, didn’t appear to be having too much trouble breathing at all. Her sats were high and she was capable of speaking in full sentences but I continued down the route I must take if there is any chance of a clinical condition being present. Obviously I couldn’t hear her lung sounds because the tube traffic was relentless and noisy. With the help of the crew she was able to walk up the escalators and into the ambulance.

The shift ended with another RTC in which a motorcyclist was removed from his ride by a naughty car driver who’d stopped dead in the middle of a very busy lane just as Mr. M/C ran up behind him at 30mph or more. The damage to his fuel tank was severe, indicating that his lower parts had made significant contact with it as he flew from the bike onto the road. I found him lying there with police around him and I began to do what’s necessary – C-spine control.

Only after a few seconds did I realise there was another person on the road – he was lying flat on his face as if dead and I asked the cops around me who he was. ‘We think he was the passenger’, one of them told me. The second helmet on the road confirmed this and I left one police officer in charge of the first patient, who was conscious but in pain, to attend to the second one – just in case he was dead…or dying.

Thankfully, the second man was conscious and seemingly unhurt, although he was instructed to stay still until I assessed my first patient properly.

I spent a few minutes with the bike rider until a crew arrived and I asked them to split tasks between one patient and the other. The rider was collared and scooped whilst the passenger remained where he was during a secondary survey but as we were now tied up with the rider, who had a suspected fractured pubis symphysis, it wasn’t until the second ambulance arrived some minutes later that I was able to get back to him. During that time, he lay there like a drunk man, drumming his fingers as if bored (he probably was).

I sat the passenger up once I was sure that there was no need to worry about him (he hadn’t been propelled through the air like his mate) and he was taken off to ambulance number two.

The bike rider was blued into hospital and his passenger was trundled in behind him - as I left the scene the police asked me if I could check the driver of the car that had been rear-ended. I’d forgotten about him to be honest; I had my hands full. I looked at the small bruise on his head and advised him that I would arrange for another vehicle to come and collect him (I had to travel with the biker). I checked back later and was told that a FRU had arrived to an empty scene – even the police had gone. I guess he wasn’t too badly hurt then.

I hope you all had a happy Valentine’s day.

Be safe.


Spike said...

"as experience has shown, they will probably make up over a nice Valentine’s meal tonight whilst he awaits his court date." I don't mean to sound too critical but please don't judge victims of domestic violence. As a former victim my self, it takes a long time to pluck up the currage to leave,due to the threats that have been made about what will happen to you or your familiy if you do. By the time I left my partner I had got so low that I didn't care if he killed me if I left, I actually felt I would be better off! It upsets me when people judge a woman for not leaving a violent partner without knowing the background.

Sorry that my first comment is a negetive one, I love your blog and read it all the time.

Xf said...


This wasn't a judgmental remark; it was a statement of experience. I was continually physically abused by my father and nothing was ever done about it...for the same reasons you give. I have the right, therefore, to make comments on the matter since I suffered for the sake of 'a quiet life'.

Having said that, I have every sympathy with women in this position, so don't take offence whenever I write about it; its not meant to be personal.

Take care of yourself...

Spike said...

Thanks X

Don said...

I'm not quite sure HOW I found your blog but I couldn't pull myself away. I am an EMT in the States currently working on my paramedic degree. I have work in three states, one being a very urban metropolis, to my current position of an EXTREMELY rural area, but I guess from reading your stories that while no two calls are the same, the job doesn't change no matter where you go. Good luck and stay safe out there.

Konstantin said...

Hey Xf

How badly was the jogger hurt? You said she made a bulge with her back, could she be paralyzed?

Also what time where you in trafalgar square? Was walking around there and saw a paramedic leave the square.

Saw this number "7431" on the side of a Zafira in Leicester square today (17th). What does this number mean?

Xf said...


No, she won't be paralysed.

I wasn't on the car on the 17th; I was on an ambulance. That was my colleague you saw.

The number on the side is the fleet number for the vehicle. All our vehicles have them.

Anonymous said...

The motorcycle incident reminded me of a crash I came across years ago. I was walking, with a work colleague, from the office I worked in to the council offices a couple of blocks away.

We heard an engine revving hard, then a thud, followed by two more thumps.

We ran to the end of the road and around the corner where we found a stationary car, indicators on, and halfway through a right turn. A motorcycle was embedded in the right wing.

When we got round the car, we found the rider and his pillion passenger. The rider was on the road, the passenger on the springy turf in front of the council offices.

We naturally thought the bloke on the road would be the worst injured—his helmet was cracked and there were black streaks along the road where his leathers had abraded.

We checked him, found he was breathing and conscious, so my colleague stayed with him while I went over to the passenger.

Now, something had been bugging me about the second man but the reality didn't hit until I was standing over him.

I suddenly thought, "How weird, his helmet's on back to front".

It wasn't.

While the passenger had landed on thick turf, he'd hit head first while rotating and tumbling. The result was that his head had completely dislocated from his spine and rotated through 180 degrees.

As for the driver, he escaped with friction burns and abrasions but had to live with the fact that his dangerous driving had killed his best friend.

To this day, the sight of that motorcycle passenger remains one of the most disturbing memories I have.