Saturday, 17 October 2009

Good neighbours

For those of you who are asking me if Scruffs is still around - yep,
he is!

Day shift: Five calls; two assisted-only, one by car and two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 eTOH; 2 Falls; 1 Seizure; 1 Unwell adult.

Every now and then I will whip up a bit of controversial banter; it’s stimulating and educating, so forgive my wanderings on the subject of how our children are not being taught. Science and religion will always be contraindicated around any table but it was interesting to ‘hear’ your differing points of view.

I’m back at work and this first shift demonstrated that nothing has changed out there. Well, except for my callsign and the general re-arrangement of everything around the station. Oh and a lower than normal morale among my colleagues.

The first call, to a 35 year-old man ‘unconscious’ on the pavement is actually a drunken man who has decided to fall asleep in the middle of the roadworks. The noise of heavy vehicles around him has not made him inclined to think again about his position and so I arrive to find him in deep slumber amid the signs and cones that tell every other sensible (and sober) living soul that this is not a Travelodge.

He wakes up with a few prods and some encouraging words from me and I manage to get him to stagger off into the distance. The far distance...that distance which makes it impossible for me to see if he has just fallen over and gone to sleep again; we call that 'far enough'.

Then an 89 year-old lady falls in her hallway and can’t get up again, so her neighbour, who has become concerned when she didn’t show up for her usual tea and chat downstairs, calls the emergency services for a ‘trapped behind locked doors’ after popping upstairs to check on her and, on peering through the letterbox, spying her old friend on the floor – conscious and breathing. This call activates the Fire Brigade and me but, of course, I am beaten to the scene by the LFB. It wouldn’t be natural if they didn’t get there first, right?

So I climb the stairs of the block of flats and there are three or four LFB bods outside the front door of the old lady’s flat. She has been talking to one of them through the letterbox and I can see that she is sitting up and apparently okay, except that she can’t stand up again. She had locked the bolt high on the door, so the spare keys were useless. The door glass couldn’t be broken because the lady was too near to where the glass would land, so a side room, with a small window, was broken into and entered by one of the Firefighters. In the process of getting in, he has to clear the contents of the window ledge and surrounding area; he hands bottles, jars and tins to his colleagues and it becomes clear to us all that this is the old lady’s ‘larder’.

When we finally get into the flat, she is fine. All she needs is some help onto her sofa, a thorough check over and at least three opportunities to refuse to go to hospital. Her neighbour is a great support and offers to get her shopping, make her tea and visit her frequently to ensure that she is safe and well.

The Council quickly dispatches a man to repair the broken window and I advise her to change the way she walks, consider the clutter around her and refine her footwear because she is in constant danger of slipping, tripping or stumbling every hour of the day.

A daytime drunk next; the 40 year-old man lies in a doorway and two very concerned MOPs explain that he has had a fit. Now he’s unconscious and his jaw refuses to relax so that I can deal with his airway. Two large cans of lager inhabit his filthy pockets and the smell of booze overwhelms me as I get close to him. He remains in this state when the crew arrives and, although his level of consciousness various from time to time, he is generally out of it. So, he’s blued in on the basis that we can’t decide whether he is a drunken epileptic, a drunken head injury or a plain old drunken drunk.

He arrives at hospital, opens his eyes and starts to thrash about. We decide that he is a drunken drunk. In fact, he stands up in Resus, announces to the world that he needs to pee and, without much warning, proceeds to unzip, unbridle his unwashed penis and urinate straight into the sink, which thankfully he didn’t miss. The doctor has left the room rapidly and returned with a pot to piss in but the nasty drunkard has already completed the task and the little 'wash your hands to prevent the spread of germs' sink is now is dire need of a sterile makeover itself. I feel sorry for the porcelain.

The nurse knows him and this is his second or third acting Master class apparently but the doctor wants to be cautious, just as we were, and he gets the full, first-class NHS benefit of the doubt until he ends up on the floor with security around him. It’s nice to be back.

A pair of hot, blackened diseased legs and feet greeted me when I arrived at the 85 year-old man who had fallen over. His neighbour has called and it was clear that the cause of his loss of balance was an ongoing and ultimately terminal (for his legs at least) infection.

A demonstration had marched itself up to Hyde Park and in amongst the anti-something people I found a regular face. He calls us almost every day and claims to have had a fit. Well, actually he doesn’t call us – he gets others to do that. In this instance, he had elicited the sympathy of the police and they were convinced because they didn’t know him but their worried looks fell off their faces when they saw my lack of concern for the ‘patient’. I explained that he had other issues and that none of them were physical. He’s harmless enough and I don’t mind trundling him to hospital (which he usually chooses) because otherwise he is vulnerable.

He doesn’t get drunk, he takes no drugs and he carries a letter telling anyone who reads it that he will make certain claims but that they are not true. Nobody reads the letter and acknowledges the contents; they panic themselves into doing the right thing and call an ambulance anyway. If the demo he’d found himself in the middle of was against the rising cost of NHS healthcare, the irony would have been musical.

Be safe.


Anonymous said...

Quote: "he carries a letter telling anyone who reads it that he will make certain claims but that they are not true."

Sorry but I'm not getting that at all unless he is a "munchausen patient" and admits to his "fake symptoms" which would be very "unusual" for an individual suffering from "Munchausen's Syndrome".
If he is simply attention seeking, why would he carry a letter around "revealing his facade"??
Or maybe he KNOWS nobody will go and read it, but he can use it as an excuse to the professionals who will identify him as a "fake"??

Sorry but a bit more info about that regular would probably help me.

Otherwise I totally love your blog. Always a good read.

Many thanks, Elaine

Lesley said...

Patient number 2 reminded me of my husbsnd's elderly Aunt who fell down the stairs and across the front door several years ago.

Fortunately she was wearing an emergency button and was kept talking by a kind lady in the call centre whilst we sped to her home.

We were met by a policeman and paramedics, who were just debating how and where to break in.

Her house too was a minefield of rugs on rugs on carpets !!
Good to have you back!

Fee said...

I suppose the drunk peeing in the sink was marginally better than peeing on the floor. I'd still have been tempted to smack him on the back of the head and make him clean the thing, though. So, on balance, it's a good thing I don't have any ambition to work in the NHS...

Xf said...


He has learning difficulties and depends on the sympathies of others for affection. The letter he carries was written by a healthcare professional and he offers it up to anyone who attends him when he says he is unwell. He always 'recovers' when the ambulance arrives.

Anonymous said...


I've been reading your blog for a while now but have never commentd before!

How is your Son getting on and has it made any difference to how you carry out your job?