Monday, 27 July 2009

Funny things can happen

Day shift: Four calls; one false alarm; one by car and two by ambulance.

Stats: 2 Abdo pain; 1 Unwell.

Off to a train station, with an ambulance coming up behind me (rendering me pointless) and I went with the crew to a collapsed 25 year-old female suffering from abdo pain. She has Crohns disease, so her pain is genuine enough. She has a slightly irregular ECG, so needs to have that looked at. But she also has a nasty bruise on her arm, given to her by an ex-boyfriend (nice). She tells us she has found someone who cares for her now and that he is gentle and kind. This is good because she is a nice young woman and doesn’t need a bully in her life. The story is made all the more relevant when she reveals that her new boyfriend is Scottish. Of course he is :-)

A 65 year-old woman took the bus from Swindon and arrived in London with her husband, only to step off and collapse feeling very unwell. She was as pale as a sheet when I got to her and she told me that she felt nauseous. She has no medical history and usually travels well, so when the crew arrived she was taken to hospital.

On the way to this call I travelled the shortest route, down the Mall and around Buckingham Palace. Unfortunately my timing was rubbish and they were changing the guard, with all the pomp and ceremony that goes with that, for the benefit of the tourists. My first hint that I wasn’t welcome with my fast yellow car, blue lights and sirens, was the annoyed looking police officer who was frantically re-directing me to avoid the horses that were heading my way. Oops!

Calls for ‘collapsed, trapped behind locked doors’ have given me corpses, genuine illnesses and trauma... and a few laughs. This one, near my station, for a 35 year-old female whose friend had been trying to contact her all morning after she’d said she felt ‘depressed’, descended into farce. The police were on scene and the woman’s friend was telling them how she was an alcoholic and could be so dead-to-the-world asleep that she wouldn’t hear the door being hammered. Or she could have done something to herself because of the conversation she'd had earlier with her. The cops were using their sticks to beat the living daylights out of her door before going round to the windows and trying the same. To sleep through that you’d have to be dead or deaf. I stood there wondering which one I’d be dealing with.

After a while of debating what to do and getting nothing from within, the police decided to break the door down. Just as the officer’s boot raised for the heroic one-thump ‘no key required’ access to the flat, a shrill voice cried out ‘What the hell’s going on?’

The tenant had returned from shopping (or drinking, who knows?) and she wasn’t pleased. She was visibly shocked that we were outside her door. She didn’t know whether she was going to be arrested or defibrillated. Ahhh, funny moments.

Finally, a 38 year-old woman with acute severe abdominal pain rolled around on the floor of her workplace Occupational Health Department. She gripped my arm and hugged me to the floor with her as her agony increased. She had real pain and needed morphine for it.

No ambulance was available so I resolved not to let her lie there like that but to deal with her pain and get her to hospital in the car – I know I’ll be frowned upon for it but duty of care means just that.

I gave the lady a decent dose of Morphine and by the time she was wheeled out to the car (they had wheelchairs and doctors in there but no analgesia) and placed into the back seat, she was positively grinning away to herself. She had gone to the land of Lah Lah, where at least the pain wouldn’t follow and I could manage her safely.

‘Are you okay?’ I asked before we set off. I needed to ensure she was conscious and alert, otherwise I’d give her the great antidote Narcan and she’d be back to her painful self.

‘Oh, yes’, she beamed, not caring a jot for anything but her current euphoric state.

When I’d been wheeling her out of the building, the lift had arrived and several young women were asked to leave it so that I could get in. The security guy was with me and he was going to show me out. But the lift doors had a mind of their own and they closed as the security man went in. I could see him frantically pushing at the buttons to stop the thing from leaving me stranded with the very people we had already emptied out of it. He failed and the lift went down. My patient and I stood there like idiots, smiling at the women who’d also been adopted for this floor unnecessarily (of course my patient was smiling at anything and anyone).

When the lift arrived again, I went down but found myself at the ground floor with no security man. He’d gone back upstairs to find me! I waited with my grinning patient until he finally appeared again (in the same lift) and showed me out.

When my job becomes a comedy of little errors, I don’t mind. My day is somehow brightened up by the humanness of it and I can go home content, which is all I want really.

Be safe.


Mark said...

Don't know if you follow Hong Kong's ambulance world but wondered what you thought of paramedics with-holding treatment for pay.

We don't have the DOB or elf n savetee over here but even so poor chpas are stretched. Even so.

Fantastic blog - you are an inspiration. Keep it up. And thank you.

Tom said...

Don't you just love the police.

Sent to a violent young substance abuser, my crewmate and I responded to find a fit, well built guy who was punching hole(s) in his bedroom wall. My oppo was a big guy, and we managed to talk the youngster down, whilst we sneekily wrapped him in a bed-roll and strapped him to a carry-chair.

Promising that he would do unspeakable things to our wives, children and pets, I decided that we would not put him on a cot, and we would ask for police to meet us at Epsom A&E.

We transported our patient to Epsom DH, and were warmed by the fact that a big police van was parked outside. Surprisingly our patient had calmed down, so with a gentle rubbing of his head and hair we were able to deliver the 'incredible Hulk' to the gentle ministrations of the local TSG.

Much to my horror, some day's later the young man pitched up to the station. To kill me, my family, or maim our pet dog? No. To apologise for his behaviour.

A very different world to Stuart.

Elisabeth said...

It's a pleasure reading your posts, so thank you for sharing your experiences - the ups and downs! It's nice to be reminded of the humanness of it all.

Tom said...

Unlike our modern-day colleagues, Stuart works in a very different environment from mine.

I consider myself one of those -possibly misguided souls- prepared to go the extra mile for my fellow man. Hence joining the Ambulance Service.

But in truth for those who 'really' needed us, every minute was worthwhile, and I would happily do it again.