Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Truck work

Day shift: Five calls; one assisted-only; one stand-by; one transfer; the others by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Unwell baby; 1 Hyperventilation; 2 Faints; 1 Cardiac arrest; 1 Chest pain; 1 Allergic reaction.

Not only do we have a society in which a diminutive teenager can get another teenager pregnant and have loads of cash-paid publicity as a result BUT we need a follow-on story for the publicity machine – enter one or two…or three other teenagers who claim to be the real father of the poor child. Not only that but the mother of the ‘father’ faces charges because she let him ‘bunk off’ school! We live in a gutter-level place where self-service is the order of the day and no matter how its done, fame (or infamy) is the only way forward for a lot of people. If you can’t get yourself on a daytime talk show in which some smug, know-it-all presenter exposes your flaws and ignorance while the equally smug audiences look on and shake their heads in judgment, then go out and get some fifteen year-old pregnant at as early an age as possible, thus ensuring shocked gasps from the right-minded masses and a boot-full of money from the gossiping tabloids.

I was more surprised at seeing the photographs of proud mum and dad with the newborn than I was at the story itself. Not only did this mean they truly didn’t understand the consequences of what they’d done but they were actively happy to have done it. And if other lads are lining up to claim DNA fatherhood of the baby, not only does this little boy become an understudy if he’s found not to be the true dad but the girl who had the child officially becomes a target for those who want to dub her a slut. What the hell are these parents thinking of?

In the middle of all this rubbish is a newborn and perfectly innocent child who will have to live the rest of its life under this spotlight. Unfortunately, if it grows up in the same environment I will not be surprised to see it appearing on celebrity Big Brother in the future. Unless of course it is beaten by a ten year-old who gets a twelve year-old pregnant in the next few years.

I worked on an ambulance with my son Allan today. It was the first time we had worked together professionally and I was very proud to be with him. He is a calm, well-mannered individual and his manner with patients is excellent.

Our first call was a transfer; a two week-old baby needed to be taken from one hospital to another for specialist treatment. It was an easy job and took less than an hour to complete.

Then off to an underground station on stand-by because two trains had become stuck in a tunnel and people were getting hot. It was rush-hour and so we watched as police and underground staff shepherded hundreds of commuters through the train and onto the station platform, where bottled water and our assistance was immediately available. We didn’t have to do anything to be honest; only one wobbly-legged man appeared and all he needed was support until he’d found his balance again. They’d been stuck for 30 minutes or less and that wouldn’t cause too many problems, so once the train had cleared and the other one had been sorted out at the far end of the line, we were stood down.

A panic-stricken hairdresser had her boss call an ambulance as she sat inside an office in the basement of her salon. She was hyperventilating and a CRU colleague was taking care of her when we arrived. It took almost an hour to settle her down and return her to work with the necessary forms but the crisis was over.

It took us much longer than it should have to find our next patient, a 50 year-old woman who’d fainted. We were in the wrong building completely but the address that had been given was correct. It wasn’t until another call was made that we were re-directed twenty minutes late, to the poor woman. Of course by that time, she’d more or less fully recovered, although she had a very bad cough and shouldn’t have been at work anyway.

We took her to hospital because she continued to feel weak and unwell but I suspect that had more to do with her chest infection than anything else.

A Red call for a male who was fitting turned out to be a misdiagnosis. When we got on scene we found the MRU paramedic starting CPR on a man on the floor of a small training room. People were mingling around as if nothing had happened but I think this was the silent, deep shock thing that occurs in such circumstances.

We got to work immediately and had everything in place; Defib, IV line, tube, drugs…everything, except a second crew. We needed more hands because this was an active resus and there were awkward stairs to climb (we were in a basement area). A stretcher couldn’t be used, so the chair was going to have to do and that makes things even more difficult.

A paramedic on a FRU appeared and that was all we were going to get, so we made do and he became a valuable extra bod. The patient remained PEA throughout and even though the AED threatened to shock a few times, it never did, so things were looking bleak.

We continued to work on the man all the way to hospital and efforts were carried on for a further twenty minutes or so before it was finally called by the team in Resus.

The man was giving a lecture and suddenly stopped talking mid-sentence. Then he collapsed and didn’t get up again. Nobody knew what was going on, by all accounts, so he was left there for a few seconds before anybody checked him out. No CPR was initiated because none of them felt confident enough.

If you are ever caught out like this, please press down on the chest if you can’t do anything else. At least try something. We can only do some good if you start the ball rolling and it might not be your kin but it is somebody's, right?

After that call we went back to our normal routine and the next one, for a 30 year-old who’d collapsed, typified that. She had recently gone through a still-birth pregnancy and was now unwell at work. She looked distressed and claimed to have high blood pressure but I think she was still getting over her loss. This is something I fully understand and have sympathy for – miscarriage and the death of your newborn can never be an easy burden for a woman and I hate the system that exists for them...very little or no support is offered.

It is unusual for a 28 year-old to have heart problems, so I was a bit doubtful about the call for a female of this age with chest pain. She was standing in the street with her friends and walked over to the ambulance when we pulled up. The Polish woman told us she’d had this problem before; chest tightness and a feeling of weakness but that it hadn’t been diagnosed, despite the fact that she’d been to hospital several times about it. The fact that it was happening again and again warranted further investigation. We checked her ECG and there were abnormalities – it was also irregular, so we got her to hospital where her condition was taken a bit more seriously than in the previous places she’d visited.

And finally, a short hop to a theatre for a young girl having a very mild allergic reaction to painkillers she’d taken. I didn’t even see a rash on her skin but, as Allan was attending, it would be up to him to qualify the problem. Off she went with us to hospital and the shift ended soon after that.

Be safe.


Viking83 said...

Hey i found a web page entitled tricks of the trade, its got about 10 'tricks'. do you want me to leave you the address Xf?
Viking 83

Stonehead said...

As I read your account of having your son with you, it reminded me of a car crash that I witnessed some years ago. A car stopped to help and, as luck would have it, it was driven by an off-duty police officer.

As we were helping the victims, the first police unit arrived. One of the two-man crew was the off-duty officer's brother-in-law.

The next police unit to arrive had the off-duty officer's son in it. When the ambulance arrived, the son's girlfriend was driving.

It caused a lot of quiet amusement out of earshot of the victims.