Night shift: Six calls; one dead on scene; one taken by car and the others by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Suicide; 2 Head injury; 2 eTOH; 1 Kidney pain.
The worst way to start a shift is to go to a very dead suicide. The woman had jumped in front of a tube train (one-under) and was decapitated as a result. This happened as the tube strike kicked in, so it was sadly, tragically ironic that she chose to do this at that time. She wasn’t old either; in her twenties I’m told, but there was nothing anybody could do obviously and I ended my participation soon after arriving on scene.
One-under suicides are among the most selfish I think; I wrote about them in some depth in 'A Paramedic's Diary' and I still feel strongly about it. In the wake of their act, they leave misery and horror for the train driver (and his family), the passengers on and off the train and the rest of us who have to pick up the pieces - quite literally. A single step over the edge and at the right moment, and an individual can leave this world and all their troubles behind, whilst dragging many innocent people into a nightmare that will last them for the rest of their lives. Surely pills are easier?
Then a 68 year-old man tumbled into the road and smashed his face on the pavement. He’d been drinking and was the old-soldier type, so his friends were gathered around him, checking and chatting, even when I tried to treat his head wound. I was being ignored really.
Three young girls who’d stopped to help out had bloodied hands and one of them was shaking like a leaf – she’d had a bit of a fright at the sight of a small pool of blood in the road. I told them all to get some cleansing gel and I squirted the stuff into their hands so that they could continue their night out without scaring off the boys. They looked like rubbish vampires.
A call for a man with diabetic problems turned out to be a half-naked, drunken Polish man who lay on the pavement as his friends slapped and punched him to keep him awake. His trousers were around his ankles and he lay there in his underpants for all the world (those who cared) to see.
‘He had two beers, then bang! He fell down’, said his Polish friend.
‘Just two beers?’ I asked with a raised eyebrow.
I find it unlikely that he fed himself with anything less than two hundred beers to get into his current state. He was barely conscious and because he was a very large man, I waited until the opportune moment, when he stirred enough to sit up, before grabbing his arms and, with the assistance of his mate, lift/dragging him onto the waiting stretcher that the crew (who’d arrived with me) was keeping on high alert.
I closed the ambulance doors to the sight of him flopping on the bed like a beached, Y-front wearing whale.
The cyclist who was supposed to have been hit by a car, causing a panic in MOP town and necessitating the rapid arrival of the police, had in fact just fallen off his ride and bashed his head. The HEMS desk asked for a report because the MOPS had called in to say he was ‘behaving strangely’ but when I arrived (after speeding past them on the pavement because I was looking for a RTC), he was right as rain. He had a small head wound and behaved perfectly normally with me. Maybe I cured him.
The buses hated me and the crew when they were forced to go around us into oncoming traffic but, hey, blue lights mean park anywhere, right?
Later on, I went to pick a drunken 25 year-old man off the ground because he was ‘unconscious and vomiting’. He certainly had been vomiting but he was drunk and that was that – let’s not elaborate on it. He and his mates are soldiers and he was due back at barracks (sober I would imagine) later in the day. A trip to hospital would land him in hot water, so I tried my best to persuade them all to go home. No taxi would go near them, however, so after a long discussion, I took him and one of his comrades to hospital in the car.
Now, I don’t approve of this kind of NHS-time-wasting and I’m not a fan of people who cant drink without collapsing in a heap as if they are a medical emergency but I had a lot of empathy with these guys. They were all young; early twenties, and they are about to be shipped out to Helmand Province, Afghanistan, so I didn’t mind helping them at all. These guys, whether you approve of what they do or not, will be putting their lives on the line soon and if they get stupidly drunk occasionally then I for one am happy to forgive that. You may not but I do.
As dawn rolls in to catch me by surprise, I get a call for a 22 year-old female who is ‘not alert’. The journey is fairly long and I know I’ll be beaten by an ambulance but I guess the system doesn’t care about that, just as long as somebody – anybody – is moving towards it.
I arrive to find an ambulance pulling up and we all go into the fourth floor flat (the last one in the block, surprisingly) to find a girl curled up in a ball on her knees in bed. We had been told she had kidney failure and I find out that she has only been to a Chinese herbalist for this diagnosis and she’s been given medicines that cannot be read unless you are Chinese. I should point out that the patient definitely wasn’t Chinese, so how she knew what she had been given and what it was for is anybody’s guess.
It was obvious that she was suffering kidney pain, probably as the result of infection or an obstruction. Telling her that she had failing kidneys was possibly pushing it a bit far and, not surprisingly, she made out that the pain was so severe that she couldn’t move from her current balled-up position – one that made communication and clinical observations difficult.
Eventually, we managed to persuade her to stand up, put her clothes on and walk down four flights of stairs to the ambulance. The exercise proved that she wasn’t in that much discomfort and, with all reasonable thought for her condition, we couldn’t have offered her a trip in the lift because there wasn’t one.
And then it started raining.