Saturday, 25 December 2010

No, Ho Ho

Happy Christmas to you all! Thanks for sticking with me, even though I am not as prolific or consistent as I was before.

This is the time of year when people, for reasons known to themselves, decide to threaten or take their own lives. It is the time of year for depression, anxiety attacks, drunkenness and violence. It is, in that respect, just like a Christmas episode of East Enders. except, real people, with much better acting ability, are facing real crises... sometimes fatally.

I've had a good few Christmases with LAS now and I've seen the raw impact of people's emotions when they reach this particular date. They are suddenly reminded of their lost loved ones, or their loneliness or the lovers they are no longer in contact with or are losing. I've seen these people hang themselves, drown themselves and throw themselves in front of large, fast-moving vehicles with no expectation (or likelihood) of survival. All done for Christmas and without thought of the possibility that there may be a light at the end of the tunnel they are in.

So, Christmas reminds us of goodwill, etc. but it tags the memories of others in a less pedantic way. It is the season of folly for a lot of people and I am not saying that as a Grinch.

I've been watching two movies on the screens in here (I pulled a Christmas day early shift) and they are both about Santa Claus; both lift the spirits and remind viewers of their childhoods, even to the point of tears I would imagine. They evoke pleasure and warmth simply because they attract with their soppy, nonsensical good-goody message. All required, I should add, so that we may break from our reality on the front line because from this viewpoint, there is very little love being felt out there.

Christmas is filled with crying souls who have just lost their loved ones. That will always tear at me a little, whether on the phone or in person. I remind myself constantly that I am here by something's grace and I too could just not breathe anymore or could experience what the crying people are experiencing; the death of someone very close. It steels me to try and live as full a life as possible and to hold on to people I truly care for and value. You should all remind yourselves to do the same.

Be safe.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Seeing red

Red calls that is. A shift on the car today because I have to keep my clinical skills sharp, right? So I waited outside the station at freezing o'clock in the morning until someone who knew the door code came along and opened it up. I was doing a shift out of an unfamiliar station you see.

I trundled out after a VDI that took forever 'cos I couldn't find anything - drugs, paperwork, general stuff - and hit the streets of the very south of London on my own, only to be found 'not required' and 'no patient contact' for the first two calls.

Then off to see a poor old 91 year-old lady with a library of geographical books who'd been stuck in her bath all night and was found by the carer when she popped by. The lady was covered in bruises and looked weak and frail - even for her age. She was lucid enough though and didn't want to go to hospital. Her battered old body said otherwise and it took the gentle persuasion of a friend to finally get her to consent to go for treatment. That's what friends are for.

My first (and only) road traffic collision of the day involved a small car and a large bus (see pic). The car U-turned in front of the bus, got hit side-on, dragged along the road and shoved into a lamp-post for good measure. The car driver was badly shaken but not injured, so she was taken gently from the car and strapped into a board after a 'rapid take down' from standing. It was the only safe way to deal with her and the crew on scene had decided not to allow the fire brigade to cut the roof off - they were very disappointed.

The road had been shut down for this incident, so there were plenty of cheesed-off drivers around and loads of people crossing the police tape and into the cordon so they could walk to the shops, or wherever. A young police woman tried to stop them but gave up after ten or so had ignored her. So much for accident investigation then.

Another red alert for a 'trapped behind locked doors' but I found the two young women standing outside the flat hadn't really given it much before persuading themselves their male friend inside was dead or dying. 'He hit his head earlier when he fell. Then we went out and when we came back and tried to get in, he didn't answer and was making noises,' the spokeswoman of the two told me.

I knocked once and he appeared. He looked tired - like he'd been asleep. He'd been on a long-haul flight and had not rested for over 24 hours. He fell earlier because he was just too tired to stand. He had a sore head but otherwise seemed fine but the crew took him away for checks, just in case.

Red for a 52 year-old lady who was sitting in a Chemist's shop complaining of chest pain that was actually not. She felt 'panicky', she told me as she slumped against the counter. 'I have dizziness too', she said. The pharmacist had given her a chair but not aspirin (for her chest pain) because she'd also stated that she'd had a per rectum bleed earlier. It all seemed so 'put together' to be honest and I couldn't be sure of her at all. Still, that's me isn't it? Cynical and disbelieving til proven otherwise.

Up in the West End, where I'd been dragged eventually, I saw the damage that had been done by the protests over the week. Vandalism and graffiti are not fitting tributes to the great future minds of the generation who are defending their right to an education. Sorry but your argument is lost in this kind of protest; nobody wants to see violence and destruction wrapped up in any argument. Get rid of that small minority of people who cover their faces - they are killing your validity.

I don't think the phrase 'can't get him off the floor' could ever be given the designation 'emergency' but, unfortunately for us, the taxpayer and you, the genuinely ill person, if you are an alcoholic and you are drunk and you fall down and can't get back up - you are a Red priority call and everyone else - the fractured people, the vomiting people and the sickling people - can all wait until me and a crew turn up to lift him from the sticky carpet of his grubby 'hotel' room onto a thickly dark-stained bed.

I could, of course also complain about the 'cardiac arrest' (Red1) that came from an area well known for its sleeping vagrants. Even as I got there, in the wake of two ambulances, I could smell embarrassment for the emergency services. Another victory for the people of London who dial 999 because someone doesn't 'look right' but they won't go and ask first. 'I say, young man who looks like an alcoholic. Are you dead?' It really is that easy. Instead the cost is more than £500 in emergency vehicles and THREE resources taken up looking for this cardiac arrest who, in the meantime (and spotted immediately by myself because I just knew), was actually asleep and sitting up in a corner. He did make the place look untidy but that was his only crime. He had not cost the taxpayer a penny in that instant. Someone with an itchy 999 finger had.

Christmas Carols always sound great when played by a steel band. Why is that? On Oxford Street, near Marble Arch, I sat and listened to one as they drummed out silent night and other songs for the benefit of the shopping public. It was soothing. And on Baker Street, a man dressed as Sherlock Holmes walked around advertising the 'Sherlock tour'. Only in this town can you pay to be taken on a tour of places where a fictitious character never went and never did anything.

On a hot underground platform I reassured a female passenger who'd been stuck on a train that was itself stuck in the tunnel for 20 minutes. Initially the plan was to walk all 120 passengers along the track to safety. This means myself, at least two crews, an officer and almost the entire HART team (might be an exaggeration) will attend to help them out. Luckily, by the time I was walked down there, the train had learned it's lesson and was on the platform - well, not on the platform but you know what I mean.

My exhausted, thirsty lady was the only person to 'treat' so I called off the dogs, so to speak, before it got out of hand and silly around there. I offered to drive her to her meeting up the road and she gladly accepted. There was no point in letting her carry on in the tunnels after her ordeal.

A tall, blond Finnish man felt sick and generally unwell at work. He fell down (fainted) and vomited a number of times, so his colleague called an ambulance. Now, at first sight, there seemed to be a rational explanation. He'd had a drink or two the night before - he may even have had a bug but his falling down and frequent runs towards the sink to throw up and retch as I spoke to him were suspicious. So, when the crew arrived, he was given an ECG and it revealed a problem. He had PVC's; fairly irregularly and all over the place - these are known as multifocal and suggest that the heart's electrical system is sustaining itself by firing off at different locations at different times to keep going. It can be very unstable, as was proven when he started to retch again. As soon as he did the ECG changed to SVT. The guy could slip into VF without batting an eyelid. He needed to go to hospital and the little box we know as the FR2 needed to be on hand.

I finished that shift thinking how much I had missed being out here. I guess I need to keep it in balance to enjoy it. I will still criticise the stupidity of the calls sometimes but that's my heart I'm afraid; I can't change it now.

Be safe.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Updates to the blog

I've been away from this for a while... mainly due to work pressures and other things going on but I've added a few bits and pieces that may, or may not, be of use.

One of the features I'm trying out is the live-chat function, which you will find right at the bottom of the page, where the hit map is. If I am on you can talk to me live. Many of you do this on Facebook but I try to keep the time I'm on there limited because I end up chatting with lots of people and answering pretty much the same questions. So, this little device will help, especially as I only write up my posts in the dead of night and the chances are I will be chatting to a fellow insomniac!

I will continue to write about wide-ranging stuff, if you don't mind but I will also make it relevant to my job, or my point of view. My no-nonsense approach may seem narrow to some but you'll have to forgive me; life is narrow.

Keep reading!


Monday, 29 November 2010

The misery of children

And I don't mean in the sense that they are miserable... I've had a month of heavy exposure to the distress that manifests when children are involved in serious accidents or are very ill. Mothers especially, become either muted and strangely calm or are utterly distraught and inconsolable.

For example, a mum who listened carefully to the instructions being given to her while her 2 year-old screamed in agony after hot tea was accidentally spilled onto her. 'Yes, I tried to put a wet towel on her but she won't let me touch her.' The child is moaning in between cries and clearly not in good shape. Mum wants to do something to ease her pain but the little girl thinks whatever mummy is about to put on her will probably make her feel even more pain; she doesn't want to be touched and she doesn't want anything else on her skin. Mum feels powerless but her child's skin is dying every second that she paused to think about it. It's heart-breaking stuff.

And there are other behaviours, contrary to those that illuminate parental protective instincts. Like the parents of an epileptic child who fitted for twenty minutes until an ambulance was finally called. The parents are immigrants and do not speak English; they come from a country where healthcare is neither free nor freely available but it doesn't explain their bizarre impulse to film their child having a seizure so that they could show the ambulance crew when they arrived.

Children with serious medical problems and who have terrible accidents are all at the mercy of their parents. In the time between the occurrence and the arrival of professional help, the difference between life and death, surviving intact or with life-long scars - the length of time in which there is pain - a parent can respond appropriately and accordingly or, notwithstanding excuses for ignorance and disabilities, can leave their baby to suffer or die. How many of them would throw their hands in the air and wail 'what took you so long?'

Mum, dad... I don't care where you come from - learn how to save your own children.

Be safe.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Told you so...

And there we have it folks! The psychology behind the behaviour is revealed just as predicted. I know I'm banging on about this but, as a bit of recreational nut-job watching I think it's relevant to my life and my job.

Gillian did what I thought she would. Up until tonight she was playing the fearful idiot to the limit. Then someone told her directly that she should go if she had so many fears. It was young Stacey Soloman in fact, that giggly, happy person, who decided the stupid woman needed a wake-up call... and what did she get? A rude response and a cold shoulder. The poor girl cried.

On top of that, Dom Joly decided to make it clear to her that she was a fraud by dropping not so gentle hints before they embarked on the challenge for food. Bear in mind that every time McKeith pulled that 'I'm not well' stunt or fainted for an Oscar... or simply walked away without even trying, the others went without food. So both Soloman and Joly were trying to change the course of things by confronting her with the truth.

And the result was... well, it was predictable for this kind of character disorder; Gillian met the next challenge with a few demonstrations of fear and then suddenly overcame them all - instantly! And she got to look like a hero. It was a bloody miracle!

No, it wasn't. People like this prey on the love and care of others like leeches and they let others run around for them while they 'suffer' from their phobias. People like this have lots of friends - a carefully selected circle of 'believers'. But when they are told to their faces that their game is up, they change and there's no point in carrying on the charade any more because there is no profit. That change is transient; temporary and only for the benefit of those who outed them. She will revert back to being a pathetic person when things settle down, now that she has been seen to do her duty... and she will crow on about how well she did.

Unfortunately, when you tell someone the truth like that, even if you love them and care for them as a person, you will probably lose them forever because YOU are the last person they want to hang around with now. YOU remind them of how weak they are. So, I doubt very much, despite the patronising on-camera regard that McKeith showed Soloman afterwards, that the two of them will exchange Christmas cards after the game is over. I expect McKeith to start defending her position in the next few days, so that she can gather support from the viewers. She could win this thing and become - God help us all - Queen of the jungle.

In support of this view, when it was announced that she was one of three that could not do the next challenge for 'medical reasons', she was heard in the background saying 'oh, bummer!' You see, she's already exhibiting feigned disappointment - she's a hero now; she's shown her worth (just that once mind you) and so, she will replay that effort and milk it 'til it dries up like a prune. Suddenly she has 'health reasons' for not doing stuff. Maybe she should examine her own poo and see what she's suffering from cos I think the answer will be right in front of her.

The last two posts have been useful I think. Whether you think I'm just rambling, ranting or generally losing the plot is up to you but they demonstrate that TV is great and TV is rubbish. I love this programme because you learn the mini-psychology of so-called better people and you can compare it to those you know in the real world. All of our traits are in that jungle.

Be safe.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

It's a jungle out there - let's talk TV

Well, it is for some people, eh?

I know it may not seem relevant to my blog but I think it's important that I point out, without of course piling any more pressure on the lady, that the fall-down act on live TV was just that; I've never seen a faint so badly played out (in my professional opinion). As I said with the BBC's amazing 'Helicopter Heroes' filming of the resuscitation of a cardiac arrest that took place on camera - that it was a brilliant educational tool, I say the same about I'm a Celebrity, Get me out of here's Gillian McKeith and her fantastic display of on-the-edge anxiety neurosis pertaining to bugs, spiders, all food except the stuff she eats, cigarette smoke in the open air and... well, it would seem, everything! This is a grown woman with a 'PhD' whose job involves looking at other people's faeces in order to inform them about their bad dietary habits! She can't stand ants but she's okay with your poo?

The world has gone mad and the evidence is being played out on television as society tries to get to grips with real problems, like whole countries going bust. Her behaviour reminds me of the very worst people who call ambulances. They are not dying people - they have emotional, psychological and social problems that manifest as fears that go way beyond reasonable discussion or debate with any person other than those who pander to it, support it and sympathise with it, thus making their world much more tangible than ours. You simply cannot go through your entire life behaving like this every time a fly passes by or an accidental bit of ham gets caught in your salad.

People like this are running away from their responsibilities I think because they use these 'moments' to justify shutting down until everything they are being asked to face goes away - taken away I should add, by other people who do the 'bad' stuff for them. We have young men and women coming back in boxes from Afghanistan for Pete's sake; try not to make your life seem hard and pressured when they have paid that price for you to have the freedom to be able to be on programmes like this and to get yourself further ahead than everyone else by doing almost nothing to earn it.

And before you start getting all hot and bothered about my frankness here, I would ask why it is that the woman agreed to take part in a programme that (a) is filmed in a jungle, (b) is, by definition of (a), going to involve creepies and crawlies (and that's not the contestants) and (c) is famous for making people eat live things? It's like taking part in a climbing expedition to Everest with a fear of heights, only to disclose that fear when you are at the foothills.

My point? Well, unless we get a grip, we are going to be over-run by people who insist that their silly little fears and behaviours, such as fake-fainting to escape responsibility, are much more important than those bigger issues that we are tackling - starving kids, rising unemployment, whole countries having to beg and borrow to survive. I will be berated, once again, by the do-gooders out there and, yes, it's only TV but it is teaching our kids something; it is saying that it's okay to behave like that, even as a grown up because you will be able to get off with it and other people will love you and take care of you, so you don't need to face anything yourself.

Nobody respects that woman - you can see it on their faces on the programme. That's what happens when you live your life like this. People have genuine phobias and genuine reasons to faint. It's an insult to them for her to behave like this because true phobias can be controlled and dealt with and those with them avoid the triggers at all costs. They do not go into jungles with a fear of everything that has more than two legs.

Please, Gillian, behave yourself. If you are acting to win the show, then that's an even bigger disgrace. At least Nigel Havers had the decency to leave - he was honest about it all from the start. And sort out your accent. Are you Scottish, English or some kind of American? It's embarrassing to hear you speak.

Be safe.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Selfish society

You can say what you like in this town!

Working through the emotions of another person while they struggle with the death of their baby is a powerful incentive to keep those close to you special because life, especially for some, is short. This job wakes me up every so often. When I slumber under the illusion that all is good and there’s nothing more important than me and mine, I get sporadic reminders through other people’s realities, that, and without being permanently morose, I should keep myself grounded. What I am exposed to makes everyone in my life special to me.

I’ve been criticised, but not too harshly admittedly, for once again being less than sensitive with the issue of hyperventilation. I’ve responded to this comment, which I know was made without malice and I want to share the essence of it.

The diary is a process for me; I write it when emotions about specific things; calls I work on, people I encounter, conflicts I am involved in, or whatever, affect me in an immediate way. I can reflect upon them all I like but recording them for posterity to humanise them is essential, otherwise this is not a diary – it’s a reflective essay.

Yes, I have been a little off-hand about certain aspects of ‘illness’ that I’ve come across and one of those is hyperventilation panic attacks, but not because I don’t see them as clinically relevant – more often than not, individuals who call ambulances for these events are not having much more than a little dizzy spell accompanied by some very well acted out breathing routines. Sorry but it’s true. They want a day off work. They are upset about something. They want attention. Quite frankly, the emergency ambulance service is not here for that. It’s here for dying babies.

True hyperventilation, the spontaneous without warning type, is very scary indeed. The person suffering it will think that they cannot breathe and that they are about to die – I know because I’ve experienced it myself. I stopped breathing in my sleep (sleep apnoea) and when my brain caught on to this, I woke up suddenly and over-compensated my breathing – this resulted in hyperventilation, which was not funny. I had to calm myself down before it resolved and getting back to sleep was a worrying prospect, let me tell you.

That happened once only; I haven’t experienced it again since but I can at least draw on real life to justify my remarks. So, I deal with those suffering from hyperventilation that is changing their lives sympathetically and clinically but I have no time for those who are simply emotional. We are all running out of time for people like that and I’m not talking about mental illness; I’m attacking selfishness. We all have problems in life – most of us… the vast majority of us, get on with it and deal with it. We don’t bleed our emergency ambulance service, GP or hospital dry of funds and personnel by creating illnesses around it.

Be safe.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Tonsilpus is on the move

This little red ball has been causing quite a stir and we've already had good publicity about him in the Press and on Radio. He's just come back from Holland and will go to Northern Ireland next - after that a few more UK locations are planned and then he goes out to Canada, the USA and Mexico. Australia, New Zealand an Tasmania are on his tour list too.

BUT - he's trying to raise money for the London Air Ambulance and it's been slow-going on that front, so please help if you can. I know a lot of you asked to host him and since the launch I've moved a lot of the emails over to the Gmail account. If you haven't been notified and you are still keen to have him, please contact me on or complete the application on the website. Quite a lot of the original hosting emails I got here have either gone astray or haven't replied to the mail sent to them - wake up :-)

I want to make this fun for everyone. Who knows where it could go if enough people get involved! His website address is on the link line above. Go and watch his Youtube movie!

If you are Press, drop me an email and we can chat about him.


Saturday, 30 October 2010

Tough decisions

I’ve been asked to comment on this article. Of course, being there on the day and having an active role in it, I have been following the enquiry very closely. I am used to hearing that we weren’t there when we were needed or that we were ‘too slow to arrive’ but, like every other mass casualty situation, there are elements in the event of the day that will never be understood by the general public, or in this case, supposedly panicking fire crews.

Now I wasn’t there to witness this particular exchange but if the paramedic has recorded it, then I have to assume it happened as he said. Nevertheless, regardless of the alleged arguments, the medic was correct; the first crew on scene must stay put and report back with casualty estimates, resources required, etc., otherwise, as they spend precious time dealing with injured people, others begin to die for lack of ambulances and paramedics. This a difficult task in the face of such a horrifying incident, so the paramedic who stuck to his guns deserved praise, not abuse. It must have been very hard for him to say no.

The military operate a system in war that saves those that can be saved – we do the same in scenarios like this; patients need to be triaged – sorted out in priority and if one patient is going to die while another could die but can be saved, then the higher priority is the latter, not the former. Otherwise ten dead people arrive at hospital because they could never have been saved, despite the best efforts of the crews, while ten more die needlessly because they lay waiting for immediate life-saving intervention. It’s a harsh reality.

Let me know what you think of the article and please, don’t get offended if you are a fire-fighter; this has nothing to do with the alleged exchange of words – the debate on the table is whether the Incident Officer role is fully understood, now that I’ve outlined it. Do you think the general public should be told all this? Do you think they’d want to know?

Be safe.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Guns and gumption

From a purely ‘dark comedy’ point of view, there are fewer things funnier than hearing that a member of the public who tried to administer an Epipen to a patient having an allergic reaction stabbed himself with it by mistake, or that a guy who was involved in a road traffic collision and whose ‘brains were out of his head’ was reportedly chatting to his rescuer.

Shootings are popular this week; teenagers are killing each other in the name of gang supremacy, pride and God knows what else. A recent news article cited someone as saying ‘why are these young kids out on the streets that late at night anyway?’ The answer is fairly academic – the parents are fundamentally useless and in all probability there is no father-figure in the house. I base this sweeping generality on gut instinct and the current state of our society… nothing more.

Oh, and perhaps I can qualify it with this: I come from a broken home. I had a violently abusive father. I grew up in one of the toughest places in the UK… but to date, I haven’t shot anyone, stabbed anyone or put anyone in hospital. So, no more excuses about ‘disenfranchised youth’ or disaffected teenagers’ because every generation has them but only some of them – the ones with the wrong genes – go around hacking people to death or shooting them with weapons they can afford, thanks to profitable crime or Government handouts.

The bottom line is that young people are dying at the hands of their equals instead of getting on with life and becoming something worthwhile. For that we are all to blame because we don’t get off our backsides and do something about it. Instead we rely on pretty spineless politicians – people who would never make the statements I have just made here, without worrying that their careers would suffer. What the Hell is wrong with the truth and saying it like it is?

Now, a fascinating and unique piece of filming worth commenting on. The BBC’s Helicopter Heroes featured a section in which one of the HEMS Dispatchers had a heart attack and then went into cardiac arrest – on camera. The film crew kept rolling and captured the resuscitation of the man by two paramedics who were with him. Even as a professional paramedic I found this quite incredible and kind of shocking. I don’t think there has been a full-on, as-it-happens, heart attack to cardiac arrest and then CPR filmed like this before. If there has been, it is extremely rare. The man’s identity was never hidden or masked, like they do with other trauma programmes, so he must have consented to the whole thing being transmitted.

It is an important piece of filming because it shows CPR as it really is; violent and disturbing. The man’s arms are still moving as the paramedic pumps down on his chest. You can see agonal breathing; something a lot of people mistake for life and some medical people get confused about at times.

He survives and that’s thanks to the aggressive and effective CPR that was carried out by his colleagues. He would certainly have died otherwise.

This is a bit of film worth watching. I think it deserves an award because it’s bold and brave – both for the poor guy who nearly bought it and the camera crew who had the nerve to keep on filming. I doubt very much they stopped to ask for permission and I’m glad they didn’t.

If the BEEB gives me permission, I will use it when teaching first aid. It’ll be a lot more effective than those dull, old and badly acted things the big first aid companies churn out.

Be safe.

Monday, 18 October 2010


It's different being on the desk as part of the 'core team' rather than as a 'when I want to do overtime' person. It's also good for me; I'm getting to grips with a lot of the stuff my brain should know but my soul had lost the will to help it remember. We don't get challenged out there; not medically anyway. After a while its pretty much all the same and very few jobs throw an unpredictable spanner at you; one in which you are forced to think on your feet. The desk, however, well that's different.

My colleagues dubbed it the 'Google desk' but when a call comes in (and a lot do, 24 hours a day), with a clinical, social or general query, you have to have an answer - the crews and other professionals out there are depending on it, so it's a bit of a mind-number sometimes. We give advice and support on every aspect of the job, we cancel, upgrade and downgrade calls when necessary and we keep track of the elderly and the unwell. I think it serves a purpose and is of great value. Whether I'd like to stay on and do it permanently once my secondment is over, I still don't know. I'm a front-line clinical grunt. I'm happy out there but I need to change my view.

I also get to see and hear every call that comes through the 999 service to us - it's a different perspective and helps me appreciate what they do up there in Control. The two worlds should meet more often; that way there would be less 'them and us' about the system. We all work for the same goal after all.

Be safe.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

The final countdown - part 2

My last day on ‘the car’ and it started with a drunken woman who was taken next door to the ambulance station by her son when she came out in a rash that turned into bruising on her arm. She’d never suffered this before and had no allergies or pertinent conditions, so I took her in the car after a request from one of the motorcycle paramedics who was at the station when she was taken in. It was quite surreal to turn up at an ambulance station on blue lights for a call in the station itself. Colleagues were a bit confused - 'you on a job here?' one of them asked.

The son, who was 40 years-old, told me they’d both been out partying all night (who goes partying with their mum at that age... or any age?) and the rash had erupted this morning when they arrived home. The bruising looked like someone had been grabbing her arm but she denied any physical abuse.

I left the pair of them in the waiting room. They spoke to each other like a married couple; very strange.

Yet another case of ‘don’t care’ caring when I was asked to check the condition of a 76 year-old woman who had been found sitting on her doorstep after being out. The carer suspected she’d been out all night and had locked herself out of her own flat but the patient strenuously denied this when I asked her. There were bags strewn around the front door and she told me she’d just come back from the shops. One of the bags contained tins of cat food, so I suppose she may have been shopping but I couldn't find a receipt to verify the date.

Apparently, the woman, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, went out  last night with her dance partner for a bit of Rumba, or whatever it is dancers do, but it was clear that she’d been wandering around and landed back on her doorstep without a key. There was no dance partner - not still alive anyway, and her dancing days were long over.

I took her to hospital, even though she had no medical problem, because her carer was quite bullying towards her and the old lady wasn’t exactly stupid. She treated her like a child, grabbing the bags from her and telling her what to do, rather than asking her. I don’t like this approach to the elderly, regardless of their mental condition, so I got her into the car. She’d soiled herself anyway and I wanted to get her cleaned up – quite frankly, I didn’t trust the carer to do it.

‘Can I go now?’ the carer said impatiently as soon as I’d got the lady comfortable in the car. Obviously the caring business is rushed off its profit-making feet these days.

After dealing with a 19 year-old female who’d got her leg trapped in the doors of a tube train because she’d boarded it and decided it was the wrong one, so tried to abandon ship as the compartment closed, I was off to check the emotional state of a 62 year-old Spanish woman who was allegedly assaulted by drug addicts when she threw a bucket of water out of her front door (she'd been cleaning her stairs). The splash caught one of the loitering druggies as he and his mates huddled in the close stairwell out of the rain. He took offence, swore at her and threw a full bottle of soft drink at her. She then chased them around the block with her broom... and you don’t see that every day!

She took a risk though, you are more likely to get stabbed by one of these cowards if you try to stand up to them, so it was probably not worth the run for her. She suffers from asthma, so the police asked me to make sure she was okay before they left her; which I did... and she was.

She’s been told, sternly by her son and again, just as sternly by me, that she should keep her door shut and call the police if they come back again – she is not to go on a Rambo mission. In any case, the idiot who threw the bottle has very likely left his prints all over them - every thug I know is a complete amateur.

Mr Aneurysm from yesterday was in trouble today. I went back to the address and found him in a chair, with his smoking mate nearby. This time he wasn’t going to refuse to go because he looked like death. I couldn’t get a pulse on his wrist and his BP was too low to read. He was struggling to breathe but still as insulting as ever. I gave him fluids and oxygen until the crew arrived and they got the brunt of his ire – he was like this yesterday, so it was nothing to do with his current condition. And, for the first time, I managed to get the smoking dude to stop as soon as the oxygen came out - he either went outside and smoked or we'd all be blown out of the room. He understood.

Mr Triple A struggled as we got him into the chair and then we struggled to get him down six flights of steps – as usual, no lift was available.

By the time he reached hospital his BP was behaving and he no longer looked like a ghost. We may have saved his life but we won’t be waiting for a medal or a thank you note from him.

A RTC in which a cyclist hit a pedestrian ended the shift and my tour of duty on the car; the woman had a graze to her face and, by all accounts, was hit in slow motion as she crossed the road without looking but she told me she couldn’t remember the incident and when the cycle responder and crew arrived, she told them the same. She did, however, have the presence of mind to make a call to her husband as the police hovered over her, trying to get information out of her. She ignored them and talked to her husband. Then she handed me the phone.

She couldn’t speak English very well, the husband said, and she was ‘a bit upset at the moment’ – meaning she had things on her mind, which might explain her careless trajectory on the road. I wonder if she'd had a domestic - she had that 'I've just had a domestic' glaze over her eyes.

Well, that's it for now folks! I will try to keep the blog-fires burning here as I clear the decks of my million other projects. It's obvious that I will die a busy man but that's okay; it's how I'd want it anyway. I need to finish the books and get on with career stuff but I won't neglect the blog too long - so please check in regularly for new posts! Thanks for reading.

Be safe.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

The final countdown - part one

And I thought my job was tricky!

I’ve had a bit of a break so that I can re-charge and write more of the book, which is 4/5ths complete now, thank goodness! Harry’s first birthday and his first toddling steps have also taken up a lot of time as I try to give my family as much attention as I do my work. The Mr Tonsilpus thing is still causing a lot of interest but I’ve been unable to get all of the parts together; website, blog, photo gallery, etc, that I need to make it more than just a fleeting exercise, so I’m trying to get time for that too.

Meanwhile, I am on one of the two last shifts that I will be doing as a frontline paramedic for a while; I’ve applied for, and succeeded in getting, a secondment on the Clinical Support Desk, on which I often do overtime shifts. It’ll be for six months but I will be reviewing my professional situation during this time and may well make a change happen so that I can get back to enjoying my job, instead of, well, whatever it is I’m feeling about it at the moment.

I’ll still be writing but not necessarily reporting the day to day crises of being a solo paramedic; I need a hiatus from that too. Medicine is still my option but I was unsuccessful this year – the graduate course is highly competitive... but there are other branches I can climb along in my academic and professional life – for the moment, its nose to grindstone though.

So, today’s busy set of calls included a 14 year-old girl who fell and said she couldn’t move or feel her leg. She’d slipped on water at home and come crashing down on the kitchen floor. She was a very large young lady and I wasn’t going to attempt to lift her myself, so I asked for a crew. In any case, if she had an injury to look at, it would be better if there were a few of us, including a female member of staff on scene. Mum and step-dad were there but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable prodding her thigh to see if it hurt. Personally, I don’t think she had much wrong with her leg – it was probably just bruised from the impact. She went out in a chair just in case.

An American couple, both retired scientists, sat in my car on the way to hospital after the husband began to feel ill, claiming that his blood pressure was too low. He had a history of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and a pacemaker had been fitted to solve any erratic heartbeat that was produced as a result. But he’d gone to the trouble of getting a blood pressure meter so that he could check his BP himself. The meter was giving him strangely low readings – so low that he wouldn’t be conscious – and so he dialled 999.

Admittedly, his blood pressure was up and down but I think that had more to do with his pacemaker batteries than anything else; his pulse was very irregular. He was stable, with a normal BP reading when I checked it, so he went by car.

During our conversation, I discovered that they were both genetic engineers and had pioneered a piece of DNA analysis equipment that was used worldwide before new technology changed things and they sold their company off for retirement.

A very bad sprain, possible fracture/dislocation next when a sprightly 84 year-old slipped and fell down steps awkwardly. She sat next to a woman I took to be her sister but it was her daughter – what I mean is, she looked no older than her daughter... hmmm, maybe that’s not right either. Whatever way I say it, it won’t sound like a compliment, right?

Anyway, she was very upbeat about her ankle and laughed with me until the ambulance arrived to take her to hospital. Some people just don’t let things like this get them down and yet we are fighting a tide of timewasters and minor illnesses all the time. It must be in the breeding.

At an underground station, a 69 year-old man stumbled (drunkenly) and fell on the platform, landing on his left arm, breaking the Humerus. This is a painful injury and not without its complications but the man couldn’t feel much, due to the level of alcohol in his bloodstream. ‘I may have a had a little bit to drink, I admit,’ he said to me.

I put his arm in a sling as his two friends watched and laughed. They were all Northerners from ‘oop’ there somewhere (I have a cheek to talk), so nothing was taken seriously. Until, that is, they left to go and see their show on The Strand and I took the injured man to my car. The pain in his arm was increasing, so he got a little entonox but nothing more. Morphine would probably have done a better job but he was getting none of that. Entonox and booze was enough.

In a squalid little flat on the roof of an equally squalid building, I found a crew attending a 74 year-old man whose friend had called them because he was concerned about the man’s condition. He had been diagnosed as having an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) and ‘wasn’t alert’. I was asked to back the crew up in case something drastic happened – a ruptured 'triple A' will kill instantly.

Inside the place, the man was lying on his filthy bed and his smoking mate was fussing about him - he’d locked the door when I got inside and I don’t like it when people do that, so I asked him to go and unlock it again, which he did, but only after accidentally stubbing his lit cigarette into my arm. ‘Oops! Sorry Guv,’ he said. Indeed, I thought as I patted down the pain.

The man on the bed wasn’t interested in getting help and refused again and again to go to hospital. I’d had a very careful feel around his abdomen and found the aneurysm, just under his skinny, neglected frame. According to his notes, it was small and detected by scan – now it was almost visible from outside his body and that wasn’t good. He really had to be in hospital but the best we could do for him was offer him a GP visit if he insisted on refusing our taxi.

This left the crew free to deal with one of two calls that had come in while we were wasting time arguing with the man about his health; both calls were queued and waiting for an ambulance. This is what happens when we are called out to people who don’t want us or waste our time. Somebody else will always suffer.

The novel will be finished soon but ‘101 dumb emergency calls’ should be completed before that – if you want a copy and wish to pre-order it for Christmas, then send me an email and I will get them signed and sent out to you when they are printed. Obviously, if only five of you want one, they’ll never be printed J

Be safe. 

Monday, 20 September 2010

Robots in London

More and more cases of SLE are appearing; it’s like some kind of convention for the disease has visited town. I’ve dealt with half a dozen cases in the past few months and today I went to the aid of a woman suffering chest pain in a bank. She was a member of staff and the first aider laid her down and put her into the recovery position – people who know me will be rolling their eyes to heaven because it’s a pet hate of mine. What first aid training company is telling people to roll perfectly conscious patients into the recovery position? And why are they being laid down with chest pain? Nuts I tell you.

This lady had been diagnosed with SLE thirteen years before but her doctor had neglected to tell her of its affects, which she'd feel...sooner or later. She was having a ‘flare’ with associated headache and muscular pain in her chest. It was painful for her but there’s not a lot we can do for it except provide analgesia and take her to hospital.

There’s a robotic centrepiece in Traffy Square at the moment (I don’t know how long for, nor what it’s called) but eight autonomous robot arms move at random on top of a video display stage. Each arm has a light on the end of it and I’m sure it looks pretty cool at night, although kind of creepy at the same time. Names, and I’m assuming it the names of the robots, appear on the matrix screen. One of them is called Jesus. Or maybe the thing is designed to teach religion.

During my standby period on the Square, two men passed by and one of them pointed at the car. He then referred to his friend and said ‘just in case’ – most people think I am there to help anyone who falls off the lions (but I’m not). His friend looked at him, shrugged and replied ‘why bother?’ There was more than one robot on the Square.

Running calls occur commonly and my peace and quiet was disrupted by a panicking , sweating man who ran up to the car, said ‘You must help my friend – she’s bleeding somewhere’, then he ran off without another word. He was holding a mobile ‘phone, so I assumed he was in contact with the bleeding friend. I watched him run away and frantically wave at someone at the bottom of the Square. A private medic was there and so he got help for his girlfriend. But I still had to go and check it out, so I called it in and was told an ambulance had been despatched to a PV bleed.

The Spanish girl had bled as the result of an operation she'd recently had (from her broken-English description it sounded like a biopsy) and her jeans were soaked and red around her groin. She sat in the first aider's car whilst I gave her pads to stem the flow. In such a public place, there wasn't much else to be done - her BP and other vitals were normal, so nobody was panicking about it.

The ambulance arrived soon enough and I gave my handover. The girl was taken to the vehicle in a chair and appropriately covered up to save her dignity.

This was my last shift for a while; I'm going to have a holiday and try to finish writing the novel - it's almost there but needs a bit of attention. Mr Tonsilpus is about to go away on his tour of the UK before he leaves to tour the rest of the world, so I am also occupied with that for the moment. Once he's gone, Lottie will take over with most of the admin and communications. I'll come back after a few weeks to another couple of shifts and then things may change for me; I will let you know what that means if it happens - but don't panic!

In the meantime, keep reading and donate to the Tonsilpus cause!

Be safe.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

More bumble trouble

This was one of my pool shifts and a shorter day for me. I was assigned the ‘spare’ car but only in theory because an actual spare FRU doesn’t exist – not one that runs anyway. So I spent a few hours wandering around trying to find a suitably fit-for-purpose vehicle until I negotiated ‘borrowing’ one from management.

The shift was routine and I only needed an ambulance for one call – the first one – when a woman had a near-faint at a tube station. I left her crying with the crew after I’d chatted to her and managed to root out the stress she was suffering, thus her panicky-fainty condition. I have that effect and it was good for her to get it out of her system with people she trusted.

Next was a fit in the street. The 35 year-old man was a diabetic and had probably had a hypoglycaemic seizure but I couldn’t be sure because the cops with him had given him orange juice when he recovered and his BM was normal when I checked it. He got a carbohydrate anyway and I drove him to hospital in the car. We crawled for ages in heavy traffic and passed the lovely Spitfire that currently sits on Whitehall – it’s only little. Small but deadly. Like me :-)

A bee sting to the ear after that. The 40 year-old bus driver thought it was a wasp but I looked inside his lug-hole and a nasty looking stinger (see pic) was lodged in the cartilage. I removed it carefully and he got the fright of his life when he saw it. I sometimes wish the bees that leave these things could see the faces of their victims when they are taken out – they might reform. Again, small but deadly – literally.

Luckily for him he has no allergies but I cautioned him and advised him to get some antihistamine and go to see his GP if his throbbing ear and face got worse. He was happy to do that and I left him with his colleagues. Then I drove back to station so that I could deliver the car to someone who needed it more than me. This and yet another warning light on the dashboard, ended my shift.

Be(e) safe.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Cold heartbeat

This is one of the BTP's explosive search dogs. They each have a card giving their names and details. Apparently these cards are collectable, so I'm going to try and get them all! I have three, the other two dogs are named Pete (#42) and Cookie (who was sacked because he was no use at sniffing for explosives!). Don't you just love the look old Bouncer is giving the photographer?

Have I told you that the worst kind of drunkard is a well-to-do drunkard? Yes? Probably ad nauseum but these people never fail to depress me about the state of society when, compared to a good-old honest alcoholic, they get themselves so wasted that they turn into animals and their attitude and behaviour becomes arrogant and abusive. Historically, as you know, I’ve been sworn at, spat at, punched, kicked and generally insulted by doctors, lawyers, bankers and stockbrokers – people with money, affluence and no good reason to overdo it with the sauce.

This man, a 50 year-old City type, was found at the bottom of escalators at an underground station. He’d fallen. I was asked to attend but by the time I arrived he’d gone – last seen hugging a lamp-post I was told by the staff member who met me.

We managed to locate him harassing a complete stranger in the street. His stance was unbalanced and he looked like he would fall any second if I didn’t get a hold of him. So, I impressed upon him the importance of going to hospital to sober up a little before continuing his long journey home to an entirely different county. He was unimpressed but walked with me to the car.

Our conversation consisted of me trying to advise him that he had no capacity to make a decision about going or not going to hospital and that he was a danger to himself. I explained that he might fall into the busy road and get killed. None of this stuck in his brain and he launched into a verbal nursery rhyme of rubbish information about ‘70’s rock bands. He wasn’t listening at all.

He became a little abusive in his language and claimed he’d had a bag with him. At that point I couldn’t leave the scene with him; I had to ask for police to come and record his claim, otherwise I might get lumbered with the blame for its loss. Witnesses confirmed that he had no bag with him but I needed this written down and so the BTP were called in.

If you are going to get drunk and you are a clever person with degrees and a good career, don’t blow it by becoming an idiot when you drink and more importantly, don’t start giving the police abuse when they try to reason with you about going to hospital for your own safety.

This well-off, well-turned out, intelligent drunkard got himself arrested. He was hand-cuffed in full public view (he tried to fight the cops off) and was taken unceremoniously to the waiting van. He’ll spend a few hours in a cell and dry out. He will certainly regret what he’s done and he will have a record for being drunk and disorderly. I don’t expect his wife will be impressed.

A sudden collapse during a dinner at an hotel (same one as last night!) had a wife, who was a nurse by profession, panicking as she watched her husband falling in and out of consciousness for reasons unknown. The scene was very noisy, with hundreds of people wining and dining themselves and having a good old look at the excitement on the floor. But it was all too dramatic and, although the 30 year-old was diaphoretic and weak, he recovered well on oxygen.

The man had a known fish allergy but he hadn’t eaten fish, so I think he probably reacted to something else. A sudden release of Histamine would do that; increased capillary permeability, drop in blood pressure, possibly leading to collapse and unconsciousness. There was nothing on his ECG to suggest a sinister reason for his drop and his vitals returned to normal within ten minutes of the crew’s arrival. He went to hospital for further checks but I’m sure his wife has nothing to worry about.

Time-wasting individuals with selfish ulterior motives are fairly common in pre-hospital care unfortunately and the next patient, a 35 year-old claiming DIB and ‘can’t move’ was sitting outside a tube station directly across from the hospital when I arrived. He thumped his leg a few times to demonstrate that it was ‘completely dead’ and that he’d need assistance, so I enquired about him at A&E and was told that he had been thrown out twice for drinking their alcohol gel and that he had no clinical need.

I told him what I’d found out and warned him that if he called for an ambulance again it was very likely the police would come and deal with him. He seemed to get my point and I left him sitting where I found him – he will have to hatch another plan if he was going to get what he wanted from the NHS.

Smelly jobs come along every now and again and I’ve had my fair share of them. Tonight the Gods decided I’d get a rancid, putrefying leg in a police station cell. The drug addict had been arrested and was seen by the doctor for an ulcerated leg. He’d been ignoring it and taken none of the antibiotics prescribed for him, so the thing had reddened, become inflamed and a vigorous infection had taken root and was working its way through his flesh to the bone. As soon as I got to the cell door I could smell it; a very strong odour of fish. If he didn’t go to hospital and get it seen to, he would lose his leg.

Of course, he was awkward about it and adamantly refused to go. However, being in custody meant he really didn’t have a choice, so, with the help of a crew, two police officers to guard him and a mask and gloves for everyone concerned, off he went. I can still smell his leg as I write this. I have gone off fish too.

Ending the shift with a bit of drama is guaranteed to wake you up; this is not good if you are kept very late as a result and have another night shift to do later on. Fifteen minutes from going home and a Red1, cardiac arrest is given to me. There is no-one nearer (no paramedic in the area) and the journey will take me north, miles from the station. I know that unless I am cancelled down I am going to be at least an hour late off, possibly more but the call is not for a drunk or an abdo pain, it’s for someone whose life could be saved – it’s a 30 year-old female ‘not breathing at all’, so I raced up to the address and got there just ahead of an ambulance and another FRU; I’m the only paramedic on scene so the onus is on me to run the show, as it were.

The door to the flat was opened by a young child who pointed to the front room and said ‘in there’ as if, at 6.20am, there was no crisis in the place. I would usually be sceptical by this time, thinking that this was a nonsense call but at no point in this run did that cross my mind – it felt genuine from the start.

We bundled into the front room and a woman was straddled over another, carrying out chest compressions using the loud timing ‘beep’ that could be heard over the ‘phone. On the other end of the line was a 999 call-taker who’d calmly and professionally guided the resuscitating woman to this point, and thus began the life-saving process. I went over to the woman and asked her if she was alright, which always seems strange and inappropriate. She nodded and continued but I asked one of my colleagues to take her place and so the well-rehearsed ALS routine began in earnest.

The woman on the floor had last been seen alive the night before and her friend said she’d been making snorting or snoring noises when she breathed. This struck me as strange – if it was true, why didn’t she call an ambulance? A number of other statements seemed out of place but I can’t record them here for pertinent reasons.

There were at least two children wandering in and out of the room as we worked on this young woman and I had to ask a number of times for them to be removed; this is not the kind of thing you want your kids to witness. Resuscitation is a messy, noisy and emotionally traumatic event for anyone to see, let alone a small child.

We had been there for twenty minutes and I was deciding on the exit strategy (we were four floors up and there was no suitable lift). The woman had been asystolic throughout, despite drugs and good CPR, so I really thought we were going to end this with a run to hospital and that it would be called there. But then one of my colleagues said that we had output – a pulse was palpable at the neck. I’d tried Narcan on her, just in case, after asking about drug use. It’s possible this helped to ‘bring her back’. We had no idea how long she’d been in arrest –it could have been all night and her body core temperature (32c) suggested this but the change threw all of us; we really weren’t expecting to get a result.

We continued ventilations and fluids as we struggled with her body all the way down the concrete stairs of the flats and into the ambulance. We connected her to piped oxygen, IV fluids and more drugs as they were needed, then rushed her to hospital, which was less than five minutes away.

At hospital there was genuine disbelief that she had a heartbeat; she was cold and her blood gases were all over the place – she was very acidotic. She was put on a ventilator and I left to do my paperwork and get back to my station. I was two hours late and it took me another hour or so to get home but I didn't really mind because I felt I had done something worthwhile for a change.

When I went back to work later on I was told that the young woman had died. The doctor told me they had struggled to keep her stable and that a drama had unfolded at the hospital when I left and the woman’s family arrived. There is a lot more to this story but I can’t divulge any of the details. It certainly wasn’t a straight-forward job and I expect I will be called upon to relive it.

Be safe.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Midweek violence

Rachel and Callum Bunn play host to Mr Tonsilpus on the dark streets of London town during a break in the proceedings.

I don’t like being late. I also don’t like being ill. But most of all I don’t like being late for work. So the latest Tube strike meant loads of extra traffic and an hour and a half to get from Euston Road to Waterloo... and late!

An assault on a young woman by her boyfriend left her lying in the road with facial injuries and a crowd of people around her, including two private ambulance men and a doctor. Two witnesses to the incident stuck around for the police and the assailant chatted on his phone across the road. He showed little interest in the state of his girlfriend.

She’d allegedly been pushed to ground and hit her head hard on the concrete. She may have been knocked out because she had no memory of the event.

A crew arrived to take her away and I chatted to the man and wife who’d seen it all happen. It was one of the most interesting conversations I’ve had with MOPs in a while.

A man was knocked down, sustaining a head injury but he decided, in his drunken state, to get up and stand around with the gathered crowd as police arrived with me. He was dressed to party and didn’t want to leave for hospital until he was persuaded by myself and the cops that it was in his best interests. He was too drunk to make a lucid decision anyway.

When the ambulance arrived he got aboard and, after a long discussion about his refusal to have a collar placed, he produced some white tablets from his pocket – class A I think. I asked him to put them back into his pocket and let the crew know what he had just in case he decided to take them out again for show or distribution. It was going to be one of those nights.

Not long after that I went to the aid of a Geisha who’d fainted at a posh party in Park Lane. It was strange to be treating a lady of her calibre and she was recovering well enough but her history of such collapses was suspicious, so she too had to be persuaded to go with the crew for an ECG and further checks, although this made her nervy and she was adamant that all was okay - her translator had to emphasise the importance of the checks. Luckily the crew was all female and I think that helped.

At a train station in the small hours, a 20 year-old female asked for an ambulance and claimed chest pain. When I arrived I recognised her from a previous call a few months ago. She had a certain M.O. and it involved reeling off her illnesses, which included SLE and asking for pain relief. She may have been having a ‘flare’ and she’d already taken her own Oramorph, so I got her and her suitcases into the car and took her to the nearest hospital which is on the doorstep of the station.

She had crutches with her and I wondered how she'd been managing to get about at this hour (or any hour) of the morning with three cases and two bags. She'd told the station manager that she was waiting for a train because she was going to her brother's place but when he asked her where her brother lived, we had to look at each other - she was in the wrong end of town completely. Her story made no sense.

The nurse immediuately recognised her. She is very, very regular.

Getting punched in the face and batted around the head by a belt buckle is bad enough on a weekend but when you are attacked like that on a boring Tuesday night / Wednesday morning, things are dire. The 19 year-old who ended up in the back of an ambulance tried to break up a fight involving three thugs and a homeless man. This is always a mistake unless you have adequate body armour or a good insurance policy that will benefit your wife and kids.

Luckily for him the extent of his injuries could be described using the word ‘minor’. Cuts to his head and bruising to his face as well as a developing fat lip were all he earned for his good deed. The smoking blonde girl who hugged him as he went into the ambulance was more of a danger to his health I think.

To end the night, another man – a 39 year-old – was pushed to the ground, pinned down and robbed after he invited a man he’d only just met in a club to join him around the corner for sex. He had a bloody mouth sporting a cigarette when I arrived and the atmosphere was generally unsettling because the assailant and his alleged accomplice were still on scene. In fact one of them was brazenly challenging him as club door staff tried to keep him back. I thought I was going to end my shift with a black eye myself. London is not a nice neighbourhood at this time of the day.

Be safe.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

The bad bee

It’s quite cold out; this month was supposed to be the hottest on record – not as given then.

A bee sting in the middle of the shift took me to a theatre – I can’t say which one but its part of an Hotel that I could never afford to book a room in, probably. Although when I win the next forty million on Eurolottery I’m sure I will pop in there for a weekend (Royal Suite). Anyway, the lady in the audience slapped something on her arm (not her husband) and discovered by means of a sharp sting to her finger, that it was a bee. She didn’t identify the thing - I did. There was a stinger and venom sac sticking in her digit. The sooner it was removed the better because she’d be getting the detrimental effects of the whole container if not... and she was sensitive to stuff, like insect stings.

Bees sting when they are threatened and their venom can cause irritation and pain – it can also set you up for Anaphylaxis, if you are that way inclined. The first time you get stung, your reaction will be fairly normal but the next time and subsequent events could result in a full-blown Anaphylactic reaction with potentially fatal consequences. But let’s not fall out of our prams with distress here; generally you will not react that way or you will get plenty of notice that things are bad – generally.

I told her to monitor herself and if she gets stung again to look out for a reaction that is, shall we say, over the top. Apart from this, she got a plaster on her wound and a check over. Then she happily went back to watch the rest of the show.

The bee, meantime, would have gone off and died somewhere having had it's little backside taken away by a complete stranger. You can read that whichever way you want :-)

Be safe.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

For charity

Mr Tonsilpus has caught your imaginations I see. The FB group is up and running and I have now registered him for his own website, so look out for the link (he may have his own blog soon too)!

The charity I have chosen is the London Air Ambulance and you will find a widget on the left so that you can donate (if you wish).

I'm hoping Mr T will raise at least five grand for the charity and it is up to you to make that happen. Of course, he'll need to have those adventures we are all talking about now, right?

He's been promised a 'rideout' on the air ambulance and car very soon and he starts touring the UK in a few days before leaving the country for warmer climes.

Thank you for your enthusiasm with this - it's been great fun so far!


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Mr T's Facebook group

I've created the FB group for you all to join. Please click on the photo of him on the left side bar to join. Alternatively, click on the title above to go directly to it.

So far, he has been invited to more than 40 different places around the world and will be going out for a day or two with some very important people! If you want him for a while, please join the group. If you are not on FB or you don't want to join FB, please email your request instead.

I hope to create a website for him as he travels, so pics and videos will also appear on that.

Let's have some fun!


Monday, 23 August 2010

Rabid dogs

The torrential rain has eased and tonight was clearer and drier but it didn’t stop yet another driver from trying to kill me as I ran on a call. She turned right ahead of me at a major junction as I sped towards her at 60mph but instead of continuing so that I could just drive past, she stopped dead in the centre of the road, blocking my path. I heard a loud screech from my brakes as I slowed and took evasive action by swerving around her tail. Then she coolly drove off.

The police helicopter (India 99) hovered overhead as I tried to find the scene of a RTC in which a woman had suffered neck injuries and I got three different locations sent to me until I eventually arrived to find a bit of chaos in a narrow street.

An armed pursuit had taken place and the people the cops were chasing had crashed their vehicle (well, the one they'd nicked) before legging it out of the area. They left a poor 50 year-old lady trapped in her car after they’d rammed her off the road. Her door was crushed against a post on the pavement and the passenger door was stuck fast – the front end of her vehicle had been ripped open when they collided.

It took almost an hour to free her from the car. The roof had to be cut off by the Fire Brigade and then she was taken out on a board. She had mild neck pain and lower rib pain but otherwise seemed unhurt. Emotionally, however, she was a wreck. I hope they catch these selfish violent mongrels.

On the subject of violent mongrels, two females, one after the other, approached the car saying they'd been punched in the face. The first girl had been assaulted by another female who thought she deserved it because she was ‘fat’ and the second was punched so hard by a man outside a club that she hit the ground and her nose was broken. ‘I can’t believe a man hit me. No-one deserves this’, she said through angry Irish tears.

Of course, she’s right but as the clubs spilled out in the early hours, the rabid little drunken hounds that muddy the waters for a good night out mixed among those trying to go home peacefully. With such individuals in the crowd, these random, unprovoked assaults are sadly predictable.

Be safe.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Misty nonsense

No time for a VDI this evening as a Red3 was passed to me and I was sent to a 'broken nose'. I couldn’t get an answer from anyone about why this would be categorised so high but when I got on scene I found police with a male who’d been badly beaten up and who’d sustained very deep, almost to-the-bone lacerations to his face.

The man was an ice cream vendor and he’d been attacked during an argument. The assailant had pulled his T-shirt over his head and then proceeded to punch him heavily with a hand that was covered in rings. The poor man’s face was a mess and he had a broken nose and possible broken cheek. The possibility of a fractured base of skull was real too, so I got an ambulance for him as soon as possible.

Once again, society’s Neanderthals show off their big-man prowess by beaten the hell out of someone who flogs sweets from a van. Regardless of what the argument may have been about, there is no need to make a point by trying to kill someone. I know the price of a '99' has gone up considerably but, please...

Once again the battery drained on the car as I sat on stand-by waiting for the next call, trying to demist my windscreen. The fan was running at top speed for only a few minutes and the screen stubbornly refused to clear, giving me the prospect of a dangerous journey to the abdo pain that had come in. Unfortunately the power required to achieve (or in this case, fail to achieve) the task of producing visibility removed the power required to start the engine. So, I was off the road and waiting for another rescue.

Luckily, within an hour, the man in the van showed up and I was empowered once more. I didn't do anything after that though. Everyone seemed to have forgotten I was around.

Be safe.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

The Tonsilpus adventure

Well, thank you all very much for being so enthusiastic about this! I have so far received almost thirty invites for him to travel across the USA, Australia, New Zealand and other far-flung (and a few not-so far-flung) places.

So, the plan is to create a Facebook group which you should all join when you get the invite (I will place a button on here). Then I will send out a little form for you to fill in if you are taking custody of him. I'll need to know where he's going, when and what you plan to do with him. All of your personal stuff; name and address, will be kept strictly private but I need to have a valid postal address.

Mr Tonsilpus will travel with a little passport which custodians will sign and record a little note in, stating where he's been. You may photograph him and video him and they can be shared with everyone on the FB page.

Then, after your holding period is up, I will email you to advise you of his next destination. This means, of course that you will have the next person's mailing address and will be responsible for posting him off (at you own cost, I'm afraid) but I will try to keep the next destination within reason to limit your postage costs.

If you don't mind this, then please re-apply when the Facebook page is up. Incidentally, my email address has always been accessible via the blog - it's

The DEADLINE for initial applications (just an email or message to say you want him) will be the 1st of September. After that, he will be prepared and sent off to the first applicant, probably in the UK for a tour of his home ground before setting off abroad. Of course, you can still apply to have him as he travels but I will want him posted off in a logical way to limit the time he is exposed to the outside world (he's only little and a bit fragile).

He will return to a UK host before finally coming back to me at my office address in London.

This is all a bit of fun but I'd like, with your permission, to do something magnanimous with him - if this goes well, I'd like everyone who is taking him (and those of who are just watching) to contribute a little bit to a charity that I have in mind. A link will be set up so that you can donate directly to it and then, when he returns home with all his experience and a fully completed passport, I will auction him off, passport and all - again for charity.

If you want to ave a little Tonsilpus of your own, I can ask Lottie - who made him - to knit you your very own Mr T! Just email me and I will pass on the request. She will probably need to charge for him but I will leave that to you and her.

What do you think? If he travels to a lot of places, I might pack myself in an envelope and try it!


Friday, 20 August 2010


I had a look at some of the vehicles that may be suitable for our new Fast Response fleet and have decided on this. At a mere £170,000, I think the investment will pay off in around twenty or thirty years. However, we must consider the comfort of our patients (oh, and the FRU pilots) – and with a 0-60 in less than 5 seconds pedigree, surely getting to them before they vomit into the gutter is important? I can't wait to take delivery of it - and I hope the Booze Bus crews get a similar re-vamp; perhaps a Rolls Royce Estate? :-)

So, the big headline news is that we are currently dealing with one drunken (or alcohol-related) person every eight minutes. I did a bit of calculating and this is what I discovered: there are 288 hours in 24 hours (clever, eh?); that means there are 36 eight-minute periods every day. Effectively, as long as we are taking on an alcohol call every eight minutes, there are thirty-six crews in work if they all take one call a shift. There would still be three or four crews employed if they were dedicated to taking every call of this nature every shift.

Alcohol-related calls are a waste of time for the most part, as well as other minor and time-wasting jobs that we encounter every single day, 24-hours a day, but the caveat here is that dozens, if not hundreds of additional people are gainfully employed as a result – across the UK, that could amount to thousands of individuals, including of course, nurses and doctors.
I don’t like the waste – you all know that; our tax money and precious life-saving skills are frittered away on these people but I am pragmatic and realise that they are the source of some, if not most of my income. That, however, will not stop me believing that it is time to penalise them - a steep fine when they sober up is required.

The long four-night weekend starts now and a strange assault call came to me with a request to let Control know if an ambulance was required. The cops were on scene with a young girl who had (by her own admission) hit a 61 year-old man with a bottle, which shattered and sliced open his hand.

The man was denying this and stuck to a story in which he sustained the injury during a fight between two young men who were with the girl. He said he’d ‘smacked one of them in the mouth’ and the toothy contact caused the damage to his mitten. This story, of course, helped keep his ‘hard man’ character intact, whilst the other one – where a girl hit him with a bottle (and the evidence for that was everywhere) – led to his emasculation in front of his neighbours, who’d witnessed the fracas and, in fact, bore out the story given by the young girl.

It was strange to hear this teenager telling the cops all they wanted to know – confessing it all – while the assaulted man denied she’d ever hit him. It meant she’d get away with it and that, from what she was saying, was something she didn’t want. ‘I did it. Take me away if you need to, I don’t mind’, she said to the very bemused cops. They must have thought Christmas had come early.

I had to take him to hospital because a vein or two in his hand had been severed. Blood spattered and pooled, depending on his movements after the assault, all over the place. It smeared and dotted the windscreen and body of a car outside the man’s flat. The car belonged to some poor sod who’d wake up in the morning, stretch his body for the coming day and then scream blue murder at the sight of someone else’s blood all over his beloved carriage. If I could spend the extra time awake just to witness it I would.

It seems to be a bottle-themed night because the next call was for a man who’d been hit by one during an alleged robbery. He had a superficial head injury and hadn’t been knocked out. Here’s the test:

‘Were you knocked out at all?’ I ask.

‘Yes’, he answers.

‘Where were you hit?’

He points exactly to the place he was hit on the head.

‘If you can remember being hit and where on the head you were hit, then you must have been conscious when you were hit, don’t you agree?’

He nods.

He also knew what had been taken from him and, while his girlfriend (with tears in her eyes) and other friends stood around him, he seemed to feel a lot worse.

He was lucid and not at all bloodied by the incident. I wouldn’t want to detract the seriousness of his experience of course but I think he may have been clubbed by a rubber mallet. Maybe a clown robbed him.

Be safe.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Leg stuff

A cardboard box crushing woman twisted her knee so badly at work that she needed a lot of morphine to stop her screaming in pain. She had been stamping down cardboard boxes at work when she suddenly lost her balance and fell over, twisting her leg badly as she went.

Her knee cap wasn’t the culprit; her entire knee joint was over to the left at an unnatural angle, so I was asked to support a crew who was already on scene and bring on the Class A drug. She needed heavy-duty pain relief, not just gas and air. She also needed a lot of padding and splinting before we could move her – she was a largish lady and we had very steep stairs to descend. The chair was out of the question, so I asked for another pair of hands and got the nearest cycle responder to help.

It took a while but eventually we got her down by strapping her securely to a board and using the four of us to carry her from the first floor. I had warmed up nicely at the end of it and we all took a moment or two to cool down before setting off for hospital, where that leg could be x-rayed and hopefully fixed.

A 17 year-old Somali boy crashed after being chased through the streets by police. He was riding a moped and had a pillion passenger with no helmet on, so naturally that attracted the attention of the local cops. He tried to run on foot when his bike met its demise after rounding a bend too fast. His mate got away but he was grabbed by other cops who turned up on scene.

I was called because he’d complained of leg pain but all I found was a couple of baby-sized grazes and a very smelly foot. He was fine and well enough to go to a police cell for the day, if not the night. I think he needs to consider some clean socks before he goers onto his next great adventure.

Be safe.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Mr Tonsilpus travels the world?

This is Mr. Tonsilpus - he's the creation of something I came out with a few weeks ago when I was joking about a children's character that could be related to this business. Lottie thought she'd knit him for me though and now that he's 'real', with white pus hat and all, I want to do something with it.

This blog is read in more than 110 countries around the world, so why don't we try to send Mr. Tonsilpus to every one of them on holiday? All I need is an applicant from each country who would like to take him somewhere interesting and photograph him. The pics can then be posted on a Facebook page that I will create for the purpose.

I think it will be an interesting experiment; similar to others that have been done with teddies etc. It will bring many of my readers together too, so let's try it.

All you need to do is apply by email for Mr. Tonsilpus, starting in the UK. I will post him out to you and you will have to post him on to his next 'assignment' when I get applications from other countries. He's only little, so we aren't talking about a huge postage bill. Anyway, I will try to send him off to the next country neighbouring yours when the time comes.

Take him somewhere interesting or unusual and post the photo (or video) on the Facebook page when it is up and running. You MUST take good care of him and try not to lose him please. No offensive pics will be published and if he is not received by the next applicant when expected, the experiment will cease.

Let me know what you think. It'll be fun if it goes well.


Saturday, 14 August 2010


You may, or may not have noticed a few changes that have been going on recently - I've stopped reporting statistics and detailing every call on every shift and I'm not reporting as often as I used to.

I've been writing this blog for more than four years and it has been hard work. Not that this has deterred me in my mission to uncover the game we play out here - the tragedy, sadness, abuse and downright stupidity that my colleagues and I face every day. It has tired me out over the years and I sometimes find it difficult to see wood for trees; clinically this makes it a risky business.

So, I'm giving my family more time, paying more attention to my business and getting on with my future career. I'll be coming 'off the road' in due course - I need a break from the stuff I've been working with over the years, especially as a solo on the car. I may opt for a six month hiatus, possibly longer but I will still be writing - I'll just be writing differently.

Postings will now cover calls that are interesting or relevant... or that have a pertinent point to make. I've recorded two years of stats and I'm sure those of you who have bothered to look closely at them will be as shocked as I am about the nature of our emergency system and the abuse it suffers. Nobody is doing anything about it - we are just throwing more money at it than ever before. This is not the time for such reckless spending of public money.

This change isn't new. When I first started the blog, I reported only those jobs that were worth writing about, so I am just going back to my roots as it were. I also need time to finish the novel, which is 2/3 complete. A final push into my fictional world will be worth more in terms of enjoyment than a continuation of my record of nonsense calls and drunken behaviour; or as one unkind person described it - drivel.

I am also very restricted these days - the bigger the blog has become, the worse the imposition on my right to free speech. If I could write exactly the way I think and speak, not only would I feel happier about it but I would spend less of my precious time editing and re-editing every post (sanitising them almost) and you would be reading me as I am, without the flannel and sterlisation.

There it is then. The blog is changing and hopefully that will be a good thing. I am proud to have been the inspiration for so many new paramedics, some of whom I've met at work without knowing why they know who I am. This is a positive thing; it shows that my writing has been good for something and may well have shaped the future of people I would otherwise never had anything in common with.

I'm going to get on with the books I have planned because I love to write but I love it more when I don't have to listen to other people telling me what I can and cannot write.