Day shift: Five calls; one sent home; one dead at scene; 2 conveyed and one by ambulance..
Stats: 1 Sprain; 1 Fall; 1 ? Swine Flu; 1 Purple plus; 1 Sickle cell crisis.
‘Keep away from me’, he squealed, ‘I’ll jump. I mean it. I’m a pig on the edge!’
I moved cautiously towards my little porcine patient but he was nervous and his runny snout and occasional sneeze made me just as apprehensive. Could I save him? I didn’t know. The whole world was against him and his kind, so would it be worth it, I wondered.
Then he fell; jumped to his death in front of my eyes. The last thing I saw was his pink eyes disappearing over the precipice of this tall building known only as ‘The Pen’. I felt sorry for him but at the same time, relieved that I didn’t have to justify myself to the Press and waiting health officials below. They’d seen it too and they were glad. The roar of approval from them still rings in my ears.
Have you had a pig-related nightmare yet? Are you worried about the effect this latest world crisis is having on your children?
For God’s sake, its only ‘flu! The Mexicans showed balls when they tried to contain it and now their entire nation has been tarred and feathered. Their economy will suffer enormously because of the decline in tourism alone. And the poor pigs (they are very clean you know) will probably all be slaughtered.
Luckily for me the first call of the day was to a 60 year-old woman who slipped on some steps and sprained her ankle. She vomited in the street because of the pain but when I arrived to take over from my MRU colleague she was recovering from the stumble and was able to climb in the car with her man-friend and allow me to take her to A&E.
Then I met a cheeky little 11 year-old girl who fell at school and was knocked out for a while. She was sitting outside the school office when I got there. Another MRU colleague was attending to her; I’d followed him after we’d both received the call at the same time while chatting outside our usual haunt, Bar Italia on Frith Street (it’s a coffee house, not a pub). I watched as he nearly took a tumble himself when his motorcycle slipped on spilled diesel in the road. I worry about them, I really do.
Anyway, she was fine now. A bump to the head and a very worried mother was all she had to show for her mishap. By all accounts, she’s historically famous for this kind of thing, having broken her bones before in the past.
She sat in the back of the car with her mum and chatted away and I told her that they were ignoring me on the radio after I’d attempted to get the call in to say I was taking her to hospital. I told her that they often did that and I appealed to her for sympathy. I waited for a few seconds to see if she would agree that it was truly disgusting and that I deserve more respect than that but I got a one-liner and my feigned hurt was squished immediately. ‘My heart bleeds for you’ she said.
Now I’m asked to go and check out a man whose been ‘detained’ (can’t think of a better word) at a train station because he’s been back from Cancun in Mexico for a few days and has fallen ill; runny nose, headache, aching limbs and generally unwell. Nobody else has been sent so I wander in and find him sitting on a chair, away from passing passengers, as if he's carrying a Hollywood disaster virus.
I check him out, ask him questions and he gives me answers. His wife is also ill and she too had been to Mexico. His daughter had also travelled with them but she, as yet, has shown no symptoms. Since coming back they have both been travelling the country on business, so if they have it, they are spreading it.
All seemed normal with him in terms of his vital signs – he didn’t have a temperature and I advised him to go home and see his GP as soon as possible – we certainly aren’t taking people with Swine Flu into busy A&E departments and the symptoms are mild, so like all common influenzas, we are giving them general advice. I know you may want to lecture me about the deaths that have occurred but they have been relatively rare and even the Mexican Government admits some of the reported incidences may have been down to another illness entirely (and coincidentally).
I wasn’t going to make this a drama and I refuse to be drawn into the paranoia that has been irresponsibly stirred up. I blame the Press for the death of my piggy friend.
So, the man’s vital signs are normal but he is very, very agitated and nervous. I complete my paperwork and he goes to catch a taxi (homeward-bound I assume). I report the incident, as is expected and I find out that almost every piece of personal information he has given me is false. We can’t trace his postcode, phone number or GP details.
A police officer approches me afterwards and is visibly shok=cked to learnt that I had 'released' him into the general populace. I explain that it is only a mild viral infection so far and that we aren't going to alarm everyone. That didn't stop his face from dropping in horror before he told me that the staff at the station were now very concerned about their health and welfare.
I went back to my station a little concerned at what my patient had done – he was an expensively-suited professional legal person, so I was perturbed that he’d lie to me. I think I might have developed phantom symptoms because I sniffled a lot after meeting him.
I was diverted from a RTC involving a patient with a fractured femur (MRU on scene) to a cardiac arrest and arrived to see that two crews were on scene. I went up the stairs to the top flat and there, on the floor, was the body of a 38 year-old woman. She was dead and had been for some time, so CPR wasn’t initiated. She was a nurse and there was a syringe attached to a well-secured cannula sticking out of her foot. It looked like she’d set this up and injected herself with something – probably something she’d been able to get from work. Something lethal.
There wasn’t much else to do except call it, time it and get the police in. Her boyfriend had discovered her and he was very confused about the syringe.
A late job south of the river and a 20 year-old girl with Sickle Cell was suffering a crisis. She managed to get to a friend’s house and now she was kneeling on the floor in agony. I gave her entonox (good in the short term) and the crew arrived a few minutes into my treatment, so I was free to return to base.
If this ‘pandemic’ continues, we are going to become extremely busy with people who have a mild illness. At this stage, only the very vulnerable will be in danger, so I think we need to shift our focus onto the elderly, those with immune system deficiencies and small children. Clearing entire schools and locking them down with police sentries at the door is way too over the top at this stage. They don't do that when kids have bacterial infections and wander about the school playground coughing and sneezing more virulent germs about, do they? No, they even let them attend school whilst still on antibiotics, so therefore still possibly infectious.
The difference is publicity. If the Press wanted to ensure a real crisis, they could easily invent other possible sources for the infection and most people would fall for it. If you eat a fajita you'll get it; if you speak Spanish you'll get it; if you wear one of those large floppy hats (Western stereotyping) or go for siestas you've definitely got it....see what I mean?