Friday, 13 November 2009

Damage control

One lucky driver...

Night shift: Eight calls; one gone before arrival; one assisted-only; one by car and the rest by ambulance.

Stats: 1 RTC with invisible patient; 1 Cut wrist; 1 Faint; 1 ? # ankle; 1 eTOH; 1 DIB; 1 DOAB; 1 RTC.

None of us appreciate being dragged four miles on blue lights to a RTC where the patient has decided he would rather just go home and not bother to inform us of his change of heart. Luckily, I was the only one assigned and I was able to cancel the ambulance (not that one had even been sent yet) and thus avoid even more waste of resources. The driver who’d hit the cyclist told me the 27 year-old man had a head injury and was knocked out for a few seconds after colliding with his car as he cycled the wrong way round a roundabout. The police arrived and I thought it best if the driver continued his story while they were writing it down.

The patient, meanwhile, had left the scene and that meant paperwork for no reason and a long trip back to my own area.

Another call on which nothing but a solo (me) could be tasked because there was nobody else available, took me to a hotel in which a 28 year-old Lithuanian member of staff with perfect English had cut her wrist on a broken wine glass that she’d been stacking in the kitchen. The quick-thinking chef followed her as she made her own way to the back room, where the first aid kit was stored and he put pressure on the wound as soon as he saw it. The incision was very deep and close to her Ulnar artery – she was very lucky not have severed it and the actions of the chef, who had applied the pressure and elevated the arm immediately whilst waiting for the first aider to get to them from the 9th floor, had saved her a lot of blood.

By the time I arrived, the bleeding was almost under control and I was able to fix another dressing and place a sling on her for the trip to A&E, where she’d need stitches. The poor woman was terrified of her own blood and looked away as I examined and then covered the wound. I took her and a colleague in the car because there were no ambulances around and, to be fair, she didn’t need anything more than first aid and definitive care in hospital.

A 71 year-old woman fainted after having a meal at a swanky club in one of the better parts of town. She was on the floor when I arrived and her husband and a few friends were in attendance. She was conscious but still very pale and unwell. She had a history of high blood pressure and was taking Atenalol for that; this drug slows the heart rate down and sometimes the blood pressure falls a little too low and a faint results.

I sat her up to gauge her condition and sure enough she began to feel unwell and faint once more. She vomited a few times on the plush carpet as the diners around her looked on. The staff moved everyone out of the room, leaving a few lovely and delicious looking deserts behind. Tempting as they were, I still managed to look after my patient until the ambulance arrived. The crew were momentarily distracted by the food too though.

An unusual twist to the next call, which is for a 26 year-old female (who happens to be nearer 40) who has fitted. When I arrive, there is a police officer or two around because she has collapsed outside the local cop-shop and her husband, who is also there, is an off-duty policeman. She has recently had a miscarriage and for some reason her husband thinks she may have fitted for a few seconds before falling to the ground but she is only complaining of ankle pain, so I have a look and her leg is swollen at the ankle; it feels like jelly down there too, so I assume she has broken it on the way to the floor as her husband struggled to keep her upright.

She must have fainted – although a fit isn’t out of the question, she has no history of seizures and is more likely to have fallen down in faint if she is still under the strain of her latest miscarriage (she’s had three to date).

I give her entonox and it helps but she’s losing the feeling in her toes and this means her circulation is suffering. The ankle is at a strange angle, so it will have to be straightened out. I wait until the ambulance crew arrives and they can help me support the limb for splinting. This straightens it out and, with a little more pain she can once again feel her toes.

After a useless long run to the City for a drunk person with a bleeding face, for whom another FRU was already on scene and dealing, I returned for my break and found myself at the station for much longer than normal on a Friday night. This pleasant hiatus ended though and I got a call that took me into the West End for what amounts to the most typical call type for the weekend; a drunken, vomiting female.

She was in a doorway with her friends and two PCSO’s were guarding them. The patient was an 18 year-old who was throwing up and flopping like a heavy-headed baby in the stinking, rain-soaked entrance of a commercial building. Three of her mates were there; two of them fairly sober and sensible and the other just as drunk, although able to wail and whine about how bad it all was for her. She’d probably spent £40 tonight just so she could feel hard done by.

Initially the reception I got was frosty and disrespectful but I think I charmed then onto my side when I explained how ridiculous it was for them to be in this condition when they were vulnerable and depriving a really ill person of an ambulance. The two sober girls seemed to get it and, to my surprise, the head of my patient even nodded in silent, shameful agreement.

I asked for the Booze Bus and it arrived very swiftly. One of the PCSO’s had very kindly donated his hi-vis jacket to cover up the vomiting girl’s dignity. He must have been new to the job because you just don’t do things like that with stuff you need to wear. I managed to save his uniform from disgrace when the girl attempted to vomit all over it. She got a blanket instead.

As usual, the Booze Bus crew were magnificent and efficient, sweeping away the human debris from that doorway in quick time. I took the girl’s friends to hospital in the car, so that they could join their mate while she recovered.

On the way back up Charing Cross Road I saw what looked like a small woman being chased by a larger man. In fact, she was a plain clothed police officer and she was running after the man in an attempt to arrest him. The handcuffs she was brandishing helped me to come to that conclusion and as she raced across the road after him I thought she might need a hand, especially when she caught up with him but he overpowered her, throwing her to the pavement. My business or not, I am not the type to sit and watch something like that when the street is full of people who could have given the officer a hand, so I got out of the car, ran after him and grabbed his arm, while the cop held onto the other one and tried to cuff him.

Three or four other men appeared around us and began to have a go at the police woman – telling her that she had no right to arrest him because she was on her own and that it wasn’t legal. I think this is nonsense but maybe one of my police readers can confirm this. As far as I’m concerned, a police officer can arrest someone, whether they are alone or not.

The cop’s very large colleague showed up and took over from me. She had no radio and no chance of getting help if things had turned nasty (my radio, as usual, wasn't working) and, as I said, whether you judge me to have done the right thing or simply interfered, it’s in my nature to help and I’d do it again, despite the obvious risk. That female cop had a lot of guts doing what she did in any case.

Soon after that excitement, a call to a 4 year-old boy with DIB took me into the Oxford Street area in support of a crew that had just arrived as I pulled up. The boy had bronchitis and now an infection was making it worse. His guardians spoke very little English so what information we could glean was very limited but the sound of him coughing was enough and so he went to hospital.

A DOAB next and for once it was a female. The Russian woman was fast asleep, smelled heavily of alcohol and had her bag, phone and long leather boots around her as she slumbered. She’d actually settled in for the night. No wonder she scratched me when I continually harassed her to wake up and get off the bus. It took a few more minutes than usual and I think I was treated to a lot of Russian expletives but eventually, like all the others, she had to comply and get off.
As I prepared to leave the scene, she walked straight back onto the bus and the driver happily drove off with her and a few other passengers. Another complete waste of time and tax.

As I crept towards the light on a promise that I would make it home on time, the heavens opened up and I was sent a job that was almost certainly going to make me late. It was a RTC involving one car that had careered at speed into traffic lights, flattening the post and sending the red, amber and green mounts flying across the road. When I arrived the car was empty but a woman called to me and said that the driver had got out and been taken into a little shop, where he now sat with his head in his hands.

The rain had been persistent all night but now it was torrential; the worst kind of weather to be the only blue light on a crash of this type. Traffic was beginning to build on the road and my car was blocking the scene for safety, so buses and large vehicles were having trouble negotiating around me and it was only going to get worse.

I was soaked through by the time I got the man to my car and sat him inside. He’d already been up and around so he was very lucky to be walking. His windscreen was bulls-eyed twice; once by his head I suspect and again by a smaller thing that had impacted when the car stopped suddenly. This lesser crack was probably caused by his mobile phone, which I found on the floor of the driver’s side. It’s very likely, but not definite, that he was on his phone when he crashed. There seemed to be no other explanation for his abrupt loss of control on what was (at the time of the crash) a quiet stretch of road. He was probably texting.

Within twenty minutes the fire service and police were on scene in some numbers. Exposed electrical cables from the traffic light that had been wiped out and the crushed engine of the car necessitated the LFB’s presence but, typically given the time of the day, there was still no ambulance.

A crew arrived almost half an hour later and the patient, who’d spent the duration drying off in the back of my car, was finally collared and boarded for removal to hospital. It all seems a bit open-stable-door but the same precautions applied, even though his neck was more than likely in good shape, which is more than can be said for his car.

Be safe.


Metpol cop said...

Yes, as you thought, PCs are legally within their rights to arrest someone on their own. Whether this is a safe idea is another matter...

Thanks for helping out.

Anonymous said...

Are you able to - and indeed, would you choose to? - indicate to the police if you feel a mobile was being used at the time of a crash?
In this case he only injured himself but suppose someone had been standing beside that traffic post?

Xf said...


Yes I would and I did in this case but it can only ever be a matter of speculation without proof.

Anonymous said...

I daresay proof may lie within his phone records but probably only worth following up if he'd injured someone else.
With any luck he'll have learnt his lesson about not using the mobile while driving...