Day shift: Four calls; One assisted-only, one conveyed, one gone before arrival and one by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Allergic reaction; 1 Faint; 1 Collapse.
The day of the London Marathon was initially quiet for those of us who were covering the ‘rear lines’. I couldn’t volunteer to cover it this year because my rota meant I was on an early shift today anyway, so I spent the first half of the day either at the station watching it on television with my MRU colleagues, or out and about – where very little was going on.
All that changed in the afternoon when the runners began to arrive at the finish line on The Mall. Now that thousands of people had piled into Central London and hundreds of runners were feeling the strain of their efforts, things got busy instantly.
The first call, to a 28 year-old woman having ‘a fit’ turned out to be an allergic reaction – a very mild one too, with a widespread erythemic rash and itching. The restaurant had called an ambulance and given it as fitting, even though it was patently obvious, even to an untrained eye that she was not.
The crew was on scene at the same time as me and they took her away to hospital for further treatment (antihistamines).
The first of the runners to come to my attention was a 52 year-old man who collapsed in the street. He was helped into the recovery position by other runners who were nearby (all MOPS were medal-donning, shorts-wearing individuals today). By the time I got to him (the traffic was now becoming incredibly bad) he was well on the mend after what seemed to have been nothing more than a faint brought on by exhaustion and a lack of salt.
He insisted he didn’t need to go to hospital and I gave him a lift to the street where he was meeting his wife. He had initially been very pale but now his colour was returning and he was much better, so I got him to sign my get-out-of-jail form and handed him over to his wife. He attempted to explain to her why he was arriving by ambulance but she seemed unimpressed and simply said ‘But you finished, right?’
The next collapse was a 43 year-old man who, at first sight, looked like a woman to me. He was sitting at a table outside a cafe, drinking water and slumping in his chair. Others had called an ambulance for him because they were concerned. It was his fourth Marathon but he’d never felt like this before – he was weak, nauseous and dizzy. His skin, like the last runner’s, was caked in little clumps of salt, drawn out of his body with sweat. He was dehydrated.
He stood up as I helped him walk to the car and I noticed he was wearing a tutu. Maybe he’d run in costume, I thought. When we got to hospital and I popped my head around the cubicle curtain to hand in his paperwork, he was in the middle of getting undressed and I knew then that his attire was part of his life-style – he was unhooking his bra.
The last call of the day – all four had come in quick succession, making the shift feel busy even though it wasn’t in terms of job number (for me anyway) – was to an 83 year-old man who’d fallen on escalators at a train station. I drove the long way round because of road closures and got there to find that he’d left long before. He’d decided to go home after waiting almost an hour for an ambulance.