Monday, 7 December 2009

Another skinny tree year

Day shift: Four calls: Two by car; Two by ambulance.

Stats: 2 RTC; 1 Faint; 1 Abdo pain.

The Christmas tree on Trafalgar Square is leaning worryingly to the right – it will only take a decent wind to push it over I think. They’ve put 500 white lights on it and it still looks bereft of character compared to other trees in the neighbourhood. Still, it’s free.

A RTC in the grey, rainy rush hour involving a white van and a foreign pedestrian who stepped out from between buses on a busy road kicked off the morning. Her scarf was trapped under the wheel of the van but she got away with a knock to the leg that was going to put her in hospital for about 10 minutes. She was lucky and the poor old van driver was shaking like a leaf when I left the scene – not that he should be because it wasn’t his fault (according to witnesses) but the shock of it left him reeling a bit.

The rain stops for a while and I am sent to the aid of a 25 year-old female who has fainted on the tube. This is a very common occurrence and she is in the correct gender and age group for it. So, I don’t need an ambulance and I go through the routine as usual – her obs are fine and she has recovered. She gets a copy of the PRF because she’d rather not go to A&E and promises to get herself checked out after work and I drop her off, as a courtesy, near her workplace.

Minor RTC’s shouldn’t really tie me up for long but because the police were being so thorough with the motorcyclist who collided with a taxi, I waited for almost an hour before taking the patient to hospital. He only had an injured wrist and a cut lip, hardly worth the trip but he would probably need an assessment to appease his insurance company.

A certain supermarket chain needs to sort its first aid cover and the attitude of those trained to be first aiders out before they have a major problem. A staff member with abdominal pain and a history of Ovarian Cyst collapsed in agony and one of her colleagues was on hand to call an ambulance. When I arrived, not only did I have to find my way to the Customer Services desk because nobody was outside to guide me but when another member of staff was asked to show me where the poor woman was, she said ‘No, you show him’, as if I was a visitor looking for the loo. This kind of disgraceful behaviour is unacceptable and makes the company look shoddy and uncaring. We are an emergency service and that means you let us know where we are needed; don’t call us and then wander off so that we can find our own way around your store.

When I finally managed to get someone to guide me to the patient, the 31 year-old lady told me that the first aiders in the store ‘didn’t care’ and wouldn’t attend her. This is their duty – that’s why they train to be so-called qualified first aiders.

I spoke to the store manager about this and he was genuinely shocked that nobody had even told him that a staff member was ill. She would have been taken to hospital, disappeared from work and he wouldn’t be any the wiser. Poor show I think.

An ambulance arrived to take her away, despite my calling in and advising Control that I didn’t need one.

The rest of my day was taken up with the FRU Co-ordinator’s conference – an annual(ish) event held primarily to discuss concerns over issues that have arisen among the fast response pilots all over London. There was also an opportunity to do some training and updating. It was a fruitful meeting and things should change for the better, in terms of how we are despatched, the vehicles we use and the way we are utilised, in the near future. And I got a free lunch and they say there's no such thing...

Be safe.


Paul said...

I think you should name and shame the supermarket chain. (I've a suspicion of which one it is) It might get their head office moving.

Xf said...


I wish I could but it would be a breach. In any case, their head office probably wouldn't care less - first aid is not a priority for these big companies and they do very little except the minimum required of them by law (if at all).

Fiz said...

It could be any national chain of anything - supermarkets, cinemas, clothes shops - they just want maximum work for minimum wage and don't care about their staff at all - I have experienced this first hand and so has my daughter.

Stonehead said...

It's the same in all too many businesses. Companies do the legal minimum and no more, while far too many of the first aiders only do it because they were volunteered or because doing the courses is an excuse to get out of the office.

I've been a workplace first aider in quite a few workplaces and became quite inured to discovering other first aiders, invariably nearer to the incident than me, had vanished for a tea break, lunch break, loo break, urgent meeting, etc, etc.

One of the worst was attending a suspected heart attack victim, who'd been sitting two desks from another first aider. She'd got someone to call me because she was having an important phone call with a client. (And her manager agreed with her—after all, I had come to the patient's aid.)

uberduck said...

I used to be a first aider for a well-known large supermarket chain. I worked nights. When the day came that a member of staff ran over his foot with a heavy pallett and the night manager wouldn't let me take him down the local Accident & Emergency dept I decided to call it a day - what's the point?

The manager in question was ex-army - his comment when I asked to take the patient away was "In my dictionary, Sympathy comes between Sh#t and Syphilis"

Believe me - they really DON'T care.

Anonymous said...

I work in a supermarket,i am not a first aider at work,but i am as a scout leader trained in first aid,on every occasion these so called first aiders spring into action i am shocked,quite frankly they are just covering there backs as they are frightened of being sued.