Thursday, 2 April 2009

Hard pills to swallow (600 of them)

Night shift: Ten calls; one treated on scene, one assisted-only, one false alarm, the rest by ambulance.

Stats:1 Heart problem; 1 Attempted suicide; 3 eTOH fall with head injury; 1 Smoke inhalation; 1Faint; 1 DOAB; 1? PE.

Apparently it's safe for us solos to move around after dark, so I'm back on the car. My first call was a NPC for a 43 year-old with heart trouble. The crew was on scene and all I had to do was move a few tables so that we could access the ramp for the trolley bed. This means that the ramp, which is meant for wheelchair access and in an emergency (fire for instance) would come in very useful, was blocked by tables and chairs.

A man in a hotel claimed to have taken more than 600 pills to kill himself but he wasn’t very good at it and not very convincing because, even though he said he’d taken them all three hours earlier, he showed absolutely no signs of overdose. The empty foils were there and they certainly testified to the number of tablets allegedly swallowed but vomit in the sink and my creeping suspicion that he’d dumped the rest overboard made me less than sympathetic about his cry for help. His colleagues were around and they showed reasonable concern of course but I’m guessing his credibility is tarnished for good.

His excuse for doing this was that he had ‘too many problems' in his life and as my consideration for his plight diminished I thought of hundreds of people I’d known who were having troubles of their own to contend with.

The first of a few drunken falls, resulting in minor head injuries next and a 30 year-old woman who confessed to being ‘not well’ and having depression meant that our boozed-up weekends were underway. She had a bruised cheek and I sat her in the car until the knights in green armour showed up to take her away.

Then off to a police station cell to see a woman who had been in her house when it burned to the ground. She still had sooty hands and was worried that she’d inhaled too much smoke because she’d vomited and was oozing black snot from her nose (well, where else?). Her breathing was fine and her sats were high, so I told her not to worry. She was under arrest and the cops preferred it if she stayed where she was. She agreed with them, which is unusual, and remained amicable throughout my time with her. I don’t know why she’d been arrested but arson was a distinct possibility.

She was also a self-harmer and had fresh slash wounds on her arm. I offered to dress them and the duty sergeant asked me not to put the dressing on that I had just unpacked. It took me a few seconds but his request that I use only gauze and tape lit my mental light bulb up (I’ve been a bit slow these days – tiredness I guess). His fear that the woman might use the lengths of bandage on the dressing to hang herself was logical but it would be bizarre to see her attempt it.

The next call was a NPC for a fainting 30 year-old male. It was an Amber1 that sent me four miles out of my area just so that I could watch an ambulance trundle on scene ahead of me.

A regular caller phoned in with abuse and the statement ‘I’m going to die in twenty minutes’ as he complained of suffering from an asthma attack. I was called and advised to take care (like I don’t always) but the police were there in force. They’d dragged him from the callbox on a separate issue – probably general abuse of the public – and were confused about why I was there. He was being cuffed as I did my paperwork.

On my way to the first DOAB of the night, a stupid man waved me to stop and I slowed, thinking there was probably an emergency I could actually help with but he smiled as my window rolled down and said ‘hello’ in a drunken, cheery singing voice. People like that make me fume (I’m using milder words for the sake of younger readers).

The DOAB was, as usual, a waste of time and money and the crew turned up before I could cancel them. The description given by the bus driver was that there was ‘no smell of alcohol’ but he was wrong and his nose needed examined. The guy reeked of it as he staggered off the bus.

A 64 year-old man with a recent history of blood clots in his legs showed all the signs of a possible Pulmonary Embolism, including a high BP and I worked with the crew to keep him comfortable and get him to A&E quickly. These things can go bad without warning.

Outside Downing Street I watched a lone protestor (a hangover from the G20 fun and games) as he shouted and pointed in the faces of the five heavily armed police officers guarding the entrance gates. I thought he might just push his luck and get shot if he didn’t back off but the cops just stood there and let him exercise his right to ruin their night shift. I would have paid good money to know what they were thinking as they stared at his random finger and abusive face.

It’s no good ‘mucking about’ in a dark night club if you are too drunk to stay upright, so the 25 year-old woman I attended with a laceration to her scalp, caused by falling into a door, would probably need reminding when she sobered up the next morning. The Booze Bus took her to hospital for that very purpose.

Over the years, especially when I started with LAS, I found that drunken men who needed sympathy, kissed my gloved hand, like I was the Pope. I always find it a bit strange when they do that and I wonder if they wake up the next day and remember how silly they’d been. A 36 year-old man who fell and cracked his head on the pavement repeated the act as he told me how kind I was. I’d heard his story – he had gone out and got very, very drunk because he had left his wife. He cried real tears as he sat and reflected on what he had just said and I suggested he speak to her when his mobile started ringing and he told me it was her. He refused to answer it and I picked it up the next time it rang and spoke to her myself. I didn’t want the poor woman worrying about him all night and if they’d had a fight, it was probably time to settle things before he got himself run over on the road.

His wife’s name was the same as mine, so I had the feeling that I knew her, even though I didn’t. I told her he was okay and that the ambulance crew (the Booze Bus was now on scene) would take him to hospital. She was crying and said ‘I can hear the drunken idiot in the background’. I felt sorry for her and I'm sure he'd left her worrying all night long. Hopefully, they’ll make up and sort themselves out – alcohol isn’t the cure.

Be safe.


Blippie said...

"A regular caller phoned in with abuse and the statement ‘I’m going to die in twenty minutes’"

... call us back in half an hour, then ...



stuart said...

You have no idea how confused I was while thinking "His wife's name is Stuart?!"

Then I realised that his wife has the same name as your wife...I'm guessing..

Xf said...


LOL! Yes, the same as my wife...I can see the problem though :-)

joan said...

Hi xf
Happy Easter to you and your family,
Ohh and go careful on them eggs!
Take care