Day shift: Six calls: one treated on scene; one false alarm; one by car; two assisted-only and one by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Fracture; 1 Cold turkey druggie; 1 Not choking child; 1 Faint; 1 eTOH; 1 Minor cut.
A few things have caught my eye recently and I thought I’d share them with you to brighten your day (if it’s dull). I was watching a news item on the war in Afghanistan when the Chief of the Defence Staff appeared for an interview. He was named as Sir Jock Stirrup and this had me smiling. There’s no way on Earth he got through the Academy without a few million jibes at his name (and for my American friends, if translation is needed, the man can be called ‘Jock strap’)
I drive through Camden on my way to work every morning and there is a building with a sign on the outside that states ‘Jews for Jesus’. I find this confusing and paradoxical – can anyone tell me what that is all about?
And finally, a little courier van runs around Central London with the statement ‘my little sister is a bike’ liveried upon its side. Funny and close I think... reminds me of a broken optician's sign I once saw in which the only two letters that were missing were the ‘i’s. These little things make me smile.
I had to scrape the first of this winter’s frost off my car windows this morning before I left for work and by 7.30am it still hadn’t warmed up enough to remove the slip risk from the roads, so my first call, for a fall with fracture wasn’t a great surprise.
The 69 year-old woman had slipped on spilled milk that had been left in the road outside a tube station. The liquid had frozen and she had skidded onto her wrist, landing hard enough to give her a Colles’ fracture. Her wrist was badly deformed and the pain quite severe, although entonox helped somewhat. I put her injured arm in a sling and took her to hospital in the car. Her taxi-driver husband followed in his cab and they both went into Resus.
The patient told me she recognised me from a job I did much earlier in the year at a bank where she works; luckily she had a positive memory of me – it’s a small world.
A few hours later and after several cancelled calls, including one in which a woman was described as ‘incontinent’ and nothing else, I was asked to check out a man who was lying in the street vomiting. A police officer was on scene and all he wanted to do was move the man along but he was a little concerned about the fact that he was throwing up. He described the man as ‘anti-police’ and felt that I would be able to communicate with him and persuade him to move.
The drug addict was cold turkey and vomiting comes with that territory, so he didn’t want to go to hospital. It was an impractical notion anyway because his large black dog was with him, lying under the ragged, filthy sleeping bag with his owner. He barked a warning to me several times but I wasn’t worried because these animals tend to be well cared for and less territorial than house-bound pets. They have a natural inclination to protect their masters, of course but most of them recognise the uniform and understand that we mean no harm.
I persuaded the young man to move on and tried to interest him in the local hostel, which may have been able to support him through a very tough time but he wasn’t interested. Meanwhile the dog came out from underneath its cover and began to lick up the stream of watery, bile-coloured vomit that the man had left trailing out into the gutter. That wasn’t pleasant to watch and my attempts to discourage the animal from lapping it up came to nothing as he blatantly ignored me. He was wagging his tail, so he must have been enjoying it.
On to a non-event with a ‘choking’ call for a 2-year-old who stuck a passport photo in her mouth and retched a few times. The call was made by her mother and by the time I arrived there was nothing more to see. The little girl was understandably quiet and shy about having me around and at first declined, by means of a reluctant attitude, my request to inspect her throat. I was happy to leave her with mum but I needed to know she was out of danger. The first clue I got that all was okay was when she indicated that she wanted a drink of juice from her little plastic cup and then mum offered her breast milk, which she took there and then. I figured if she could suckle, she had no trouble breathing and I wasn’t going to consider her age for too long because every mother and child will continue that feeding bond until they both feel it’s no longer required. I reckon after the age of sixteen it should be outlawed though.
I managed to get lunch in before my next call of the shift. This one took me south of the river for what, I imagine, my Control desk thought to be a straight-forward pick up and convey job after a 22 year-old female fainted in a university lecture theatre. Unusually, it wasn’t that simple. The young girl had a recent history of bilateral pulmonary embolism and was on Warfarin as a result. She was due to have a catheter inserted in her heart and today she appeared to faint and fit just before taking an exam. Now, this kind of stress can and does produce the household type faints that we are all used to running on but don’t worry too much about and so it was prudent just to send me along but this lady had a complicated history and that changed the colour of things, so I requested an ambulance. She had chest pain and was emotionally wired, so travelling to hospital in the car was not an option.
A false alarm in Soho later on as I chatted to a colleague in Frith Street. Someone dialled 999 then left the ‘phone off the hook and ‘shouting’ could be heard in the background. I went around the corner to where the call had originated, followed by my CRU colleague and saw nothing initially, although I could certainly hear the shouting. It was one of those distinctive random cries that tend to emanate from the drunk or insane (or both) and it wasn’t long before we identified the source of it. A drunken (and probably drugged up) man was wandering down the street yelling, dancing and trying to sing. He looked harmless and even approached us to shake our hands. No emergency there then.
And once again, just as the time approached to end my shift, I was sent miles north and out of area to attend a 2 year-old boy who had bumped his head on a wooden bed post and cut himself above the eye. It was a very superficial wound and needed no more than a few strips of tape to close it. The young mother, who already had another two older children, seemed to have no idea whatsoever about the difference between a simple first aid issue and a true emergency. She dialled 999 because her little boy cut his head – he wasn’t unconscious and displayed no complications whatsoever. This lack of a basic understanding of childhood injuries leaves me stunned. You don’t need lessons for this because you experience it yourself in life (well, most of us do). Obviously an ambulance had never been despatched to this; they’d sent me simply because they knew it was a nonsense call but somebody had to deal with it. It’s frustrating to have to advise grown up people, especially parents, over and over again, to do a first aid course and get some confidence. Please, we are running out of ambulances.