Saturday, 23 May 2009

Fit to go home

Trying to disguise yourself against a background that is hopelessly at odds with your camouflage just makes you stand out even more.

Night shift: Five calls; one refused, two conveyed and two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Dying swan (eTOH); 1 Asthma; 1 EP fit; 1 Back pain; 1 eTOH.

First call of the night is for a 35 year-old man claiming chest pain. A Motorcycle colleague is on scene and very quickly an ambulance joins us. He is writhing about in the street with his two lady-friends worrying over him and I suspect he is doing more in the way of performing than dying.

He staggers and collapses on the way into the ambulance and his weight almost pulls two of us down as we support him but he doesn’t need this help, he needs to grow up and drink less.

The fact that I now have a brake light and tail light out on the car means that for the next four hours of the shift I am sitting at station waiting for the RAC man to appear.

As soon as I am road legal, I get a call to a 62 year-old man having an asthma attack in the street. Two PCSOs are on scene with him and I know him well; he is a regular caller who lives locally in Soho. He goes to hospital frequently with breathing problems that are either real or imagined, depending on the day, the weather and the need for attention. I don’t doubt he has health problems but he definitely isn’t in danger here - I nebulise him anyway and take him to hospital in the car, where he promptly bursts into tears and I feel ashamed for not showing him enough compassion.

As I wander back into the West End, I watch a Pedicab full of drunks go out of control and steer directly into a post on the pavement. The loud bang is followed by human spillage as three large and stupidly drunk men are thrown into the street by the force of the unexpected halt in motion. The driver follows suit and they all stand up eventually looking dazed and grinning like idiots. I don't even think the smiling idiots were offered a refund. It’s only a matter of time before one of these things kills someone.

A trip north took me to a 39 year-old man having a fit outside a pub. His friends were with him and he’s already had four seizures, I’m told. At first there is a wee bit of aggression towards me but it all melts away as I refuse to be drawn and decide to behave myself like a professional. So, I carry out my obs and watch as he has another fit.

The man is epileptic but he’s also been drinking a lot tonight, so the possibility of my giving him Diazepam is rendered void. I cannulate him when he relaxes again and reassure everyone around that he will be fine but I need an ambulance for him because he could fit again at any time.

The voice on the other end of the radio tells me there is nothing to send except a vehicle miles away and I contemplate the long wait while I attempt to keep him stable without drugs. Miraculously though, he recovers fully and in no time he’s begging not to go to hospital, despite his friends insisting that he does. He hasn’t fitted for the past 20 minutes and he looks well enough to make a decision for himself, so I do as I am asked and cancel the crew when they arrive on scene, explaining the reason why to the attendant.

I do the necessary paperwork and remove the cannula from his arm. He thanks me and has a smoke after signing on the line. Hid lady friend kisses me and hugs me like I’ve known her forever and it all gets a bit awkward but it’s nice because that’s two shifts in a row now where I’ve genuinely felt appreciated – it doesn’t happen often and it balances the scales for me on nights like these.

A 24 year-old man claimed chest pain until I arrived and suddenly the ache was nowhere near his chest. He had back pain, felt hot and couldn’t sleep. The staff at the hostel he was staying at called on the basis of his initial complaint and now they looked sheepish. This would have been a Green category call except for the lie (or exaggeration if you want to be kind). The crew took him away and he sat the night out in the hospital reception no doubt.

The police called us for a 19 year-old German man who was unconscious in an alley. I woke him up and got him to his feet, proving, in a few seconds, that he wasn’t unconscious. He was drunk and rude. He spat a lot and didn’t seem to care that his goblets were often heading our way. Even the police officers had to remind him that they were present, especially when he decided to remove his trousers in a public place. I don't know if his alcoholic brain was telling him he was going to bed or going to the loo but nobody wanted to find out.

There was no ambulance for this man and I thought about the wait I’d have with three police officers who had better things to do, so I conveyed him myself in the car, warning him not to spit and to use the clinical waste bag I’d wrapped around his neck for such adventures (including vomiting if he wanted to). He now had an orange plastic bib on and he fell asleep straight away. I had an German adult-baby in the back of my car, so the journey was uneventful.

I woke him up at hospital, got him into a chair and that was that.

Be safe.


Anonymous said...

To be honest, I think you need to be a bit more sympathetic towards people with Asthma. Someone is going to read your blog, and might see someone in a tube station or something having an asthma attack, and they're going to think it's Hyperventilation or Attention seeking. It's not the best image to be giving.

8char8 said...

He, you got any tips on distinguishing whether someone is really unconscious or just drunk.
I have been tricked before and its not only frustrating and embarassing but its time wasting for the already over-stretched ambulance service. (I work for the police so I can appreciate your frustration at time wasters!)

Xf said...


With respect, you don't know me or how much I know about asthma. I am very serious about true asthma attacks. This regular caller smokes like a chimney, doesn't bother with his inhaler and goes to hospital almost every day for weeks on end with no clinical need to do so.

I still treated him...I just didn't give him hugs. I have seen children die of asthma, so please don't lecture me on sympathy.

Xf said...


Yep, simply brush a finger across one of their eyelashes - in almost every case where they are conscious it will flutter, whether they like it or not. You can then ask them to stop playing around.

8char8 said...

Thanks for the tip :)