Night shift: Ten calls; one false alarm; one assisted-only and the rest by ambulance.
Stats: 1 RTC; 3 eTOH; 1 Kidney pain; 1 Panic attack; 1 Chest pain; 1 NPC; 1 Fall; 1 Swine Flu.
A 16 year-old Canadian boy was lying on the pavement after having been lightly clipped by a bus as it pulled into a stop so the natural reaction of British onlookers was to put him in the recovery position, even though he had nothing to recover from. He was much more frightened by the arrival of sirens and yellow-jacketed paramedics than the prospect of any minor injury he may have sustained as the result of his close encounter. I was reminded of the scene in ‘The Holy Grail’ in which one of the characters is persuaded that he is too injured to get involved in a fight even though he protests that he is fine.
To scare the boy even more a woman leaned over him, placed a large hand on his shoulder and whispered ‘God bless you and preserve you’. He must have thought he was going to die.
A free sandwich and coffee was all that a local alcoholic wanted when he feigned epilepsy in the street for the benefit of kind MOPs. He was munching away on it when I arrived and his tell-tale can of lager was by his side. The crew had to take him because the call stated he’d ‘had a fit’. Somehow I highly doubt that.
Off to a restaurant in Chinatown (guess what type of restaurant) for a 44 year-old Chinese lady who was propped up against the wall with a protruding tongue which she unconsciously bit down on and a large piece of vomited meat in her airway. Her work colleagues were concerned that she had drunk too much because she wasn’t responding. Well, no she wouldn’t because she was choking to death.
As soon as I cleared her airway she began to vomit the rest of her dinner up onto the floor of the little landing, in full view of anyone eating nearby and to the annoyance of blokes who simply wanted to go to the toilet but had to step over her in order to do so. Tsk! How dare she obstruct their right of way. It took a couple of reminders from me before the management got control of the traffic in the area and I could stop swaying to one side as yet another pair of boots came towards my head.
The woman had certainly had too much to drink and was still out of it when the crew arrived and scraped her from the floor. Maybe next time her friends will try to recognise when she is in serious trouble.
A 75 year-old man with a history of renal failure claimed that his kidney pain disappeared after I’d palpated his back. I asked him not to publicise this miracle because I don’t want a rush of business as a result. His BM was high but otherwise his obs were normal.
Up north next for a 22 year-old female having a panic attack outside a club she’d been in with her friend. They waited patiently for me on the kerb but neither of them thought to indicate who they were when I arrived, so I had to reason that they had called when I saw them. They had that ‘just called an ambulance’ look on their faces. I wish people would stick their hands up or wave more often when they see the car.
An ‘unconscious’ 35 year-old man wasn’t. He was drunk and belligerent. In fact, he chased after the concerned man who called an ambulance for him when he was found collapsed in a doorway. Then he tried to put his filthy hat on my head as a gesture of friendship. Prior to that he’d been quite aggressive and physical, so I left him, as did the crew, to make his own drunken way home.
After a night out celebrating his 75th birthday, a man collapsed in the smallest toilet in the world belonging to his female friend. It was hard work getting into it and I had to bend my way around the door to reach him. Luckily he was conscious – if he’d been in cardiac arrest this would have been the start of a nightmare. He was complaining of chest pain but the more he indicated where it was and the more he cried out every time he moved, the more convinced I was that it was muscular. Still, he had to be treated as if it might be cardiac, so he was given aspirin and GTN as required. Then he was taken away by the crew, moaning about the pain but still able to insult his girlfriend as he left.
A no patient contact call for sickle cell crisis. The ambulance was right behind me most of the way. The button-pushing targets are achieved this way and I must have given the hierarchy a five-second advantage.
A call given as ‘still on floor behind locked doors, fitting’ was in fact an assist-only job in which myself and the crew, who had to gain access by finding the master key to the door in a sheltered housing building, picked a woman from the floor of her bedroom and put her back into bed. The disabled lady had wet herself accidentally when she fell from the bed attempting to get to her commode. She got a new sheet and clean nightie and was left safe and sound on her mattress.
I was twenty minutes from finishing and had gone back to base in readiness but a Red call for chest pain sent me all the way back into WC1. Fair enough but the call description stated that the patient was 20 years old and had recently had Flu. This was not going to be a cardiac related call.
When I reached her she was in bed with her friends standing around her. She had Swine Flu and had only been diagnosed the day before, so now I was exposed to it without a mask. She had barely started her course of Tamiflu and now she was worrying about symptoms that she was bound to suffer. Her chest pain was caused by her coughing and a likely viral invasion of her lungs. I wasn’t pleased to be made late and neither were the crew who turned up because they too were supposed to be going home after a hard 12-hour shift and they had been dragged miles to get here. Of course, this is the nature of the job but us humans just get grumpy when we can't get enough sleep between shifts.