Day shift: Five calls; one NPC; three by car and only one by ambulance.
Stats: 2 eTOH; 1 ? fracture; 1 Abdo pain; 1 Eye injury.
Ahhh, the old Red1, ‘life status questionable calls’ – they never cease to wake me up and make me smell the roses. I didn’t even make contact with this one (who was, of course too drunk to look alive). The police had found him lying on the pavement, where nobody in their right mind was going to touch him to see if he was alright, so they called us. The cops hadn’t over-reacted and screamed cardiac arrest down the phone but someone else button-pushed their way through a load of stupid questions, designed by and for robots, until the only conclusion they could come to (automatically, remotely and whether they liked it or not) was that the person on the pavement must be dead. A ‘life status questionable’ that actually produces a corpse is as rare as an ‘unconscious on a bus’ being something more than just another sleeping drunk.
‘Where’s my mates?’ asked the drunken fool, according to the police officers who flagged me down and stopped me from becoming part of the circus. I’m also told he then attempted to get up and fell back down, stating ‘I’m so drunk I can’t even stand up’. Honestly, he knew what was happening before we did. I would want to produce a little book of receipts and swipe his credit card for the couple of hundred quid that he had just cost me and my fellow tax-payers; Ka-ching.
Bear in mind folks, that it was still early in the day – morning time in fact.
Moving home for the new University Semester can be stressful. Moreso when, not only have you barely seen your new pad but your parents are visiting to help you settle in and your sister, who is also at uni, is at hand to comfort you during the move. Then you trip and fall off a high kerb outside your new digs, badly spraining your ankle in the process.
I was called to the aid of this 19 year-old woman who now lay in the road with her family around her. She still had her sense of humour and she still had her dignity (wasn’t wailing and crying all over the place) and she did have a possible broken ankle. Moving would have to wait and I took her and her mother up to A&E in the car.
The voluntary services arrived on scene when I was dealing with my next patient, a 33 year-old pregnant woman at 22 weeks who had abdominal pain and the worries of the world about losing her child. I had expected my colleagues to show and was quite prepared to take the lady and her husband to hospital if they didn’t, so I stuck to my guns because (1) I had no idea why the volunteers were there on blue lights and neither did my Control desk, (2) I would have to ride along with my patient in their ambulance because I had no idea what their skill levels were and I was responsible for her and (3) well, let’s just say I didn’t like the look of them to be honest.
I know I will get the usual flak for that comment but even my patient was concerned about being left in their care – one looked far too old to be doing the job and the other may still have been at school; the image was bad and the poor lady in pain had no confidence in them from the start.
She wasn’t bleeding and the pain came and went. Her last scan, which was the day before, was fine, so she was absolutely stable for travelling in the car. In fact, she insisted, so I cancelled the crew down right there, even though I didn’t know in what capacity they had even arrived here and drove the patient and her husband to hospital myself, delivering them to the Obstetric Day Unit within 20 minutes.
I must point out that, regardless of my personal opinion of the crew that arrived, the patient was given the option of travelling in their ambulance because I wanted to make sure I wasn’t the only one with an uncomfortable feeling about it. This is not an attack on the voluntary services, which generally do a great job and without which we’d struggle at times; it is a statement about the image given by certain individuals in their uniforms.
The stupid call of the day was for a 27 year-old man with a 2-week old eye injury (he poked it with his finger) who called an ambulance from a phone box when he got lost on his way to the eye hospital – apparently, he couldn’t see where he was!
He had been attended to at his local hospital but they had referred him to a specialist unit and now he was in Regent Street, nowhere near his destination. His eye couldn’t be to blame for that confusion and misinterpretation; his brain must have played a part.
I found out just how devious (or thick) he was when, after the fuss of myself and an ambulance showing up for him and me offering to drive him almost 4 miles to his destination, he not only asked me to stop at a shop so he could top up his mobile credit but to wait for him so that when he was finished at the hospital, I could take him home... to Acton! I clenched the wheel as I drove, I can tell you.
I deposited him in the waiting area of the eye hospital, where the triage nurse listened to my story and tutted sympathetically for me. Then I drove off in a puff of irate blue smoke and sped into the distance as the mad blind man came running after me, waving his mobile phone in the air with the words on its screen reading ‘battery lo’.
That last bit didn’t actually happen but it could have. I just drove off and left him there. The words ‘battery lo’ were probably flashing in his brain.
We end as we begin, right? As in life, the drunks and wasters get all the duvet, so I was given my last life-saving assignment for the shift at a train station where a Polish man lay ‘unconscious’ on the floor, directly below a little food stand. Police were on scene and by the time I got there, he was awake. He’d never actually been unconscious and he proved his worth by vomiting, without much warning or the good manners to catch it, copiously onto the cleanish, tiled floor underneath that little food stand (which was currently doing no business).
His foul vomiting went on and on. He became aggressive and nasty when the cops held him down for his own sake. He had no medical need of me or anyone in green but we had to do something about him – he was putting the Burger King customers off their meals. So, I asked for an ambulance and hated myself for doing it. The poor crew were dragged, near the end of their shift, all the way from the north to here in the south, just so they could continue the game we had started – ‘babysitting the foreign drunk man’; a game played by thousands of healthcare professionals and police officers around the country and a game which can be variously titled ‘foreign’ or ‘home-grown’, depending on your town and its national diversity.
This game, incidentally, if you are still chortling away, is costing us all money every day. It appeases no-one who pays to suggest that alcoholism is a disease, so ‘leave them alone and don’t be judgmental’. When we run out of money and have to face it all, what will we do with those hard-core individuals then? It would be cheaper to buy an island, drop them off and let them drink as much as they want until they die of it, or sober up and come home to rejoin society. We could use the savings to buy hospital beds for children with cancer or other genuinely ill people.
That would be nice.
This ‘patient’ was the only person I had to call an ambulance for. That says it all I think.