Friday, 5 February 2010


Day shift: Five calls; two by car; three by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Epistaxis; 2 Chest pain;1 Collapsed person; 1 Assault.

An epistaxis at the start of the shift and with no ambulance available in support. Most of these turn out to be little trickles of nothingness or are under control by the time I get on scene but this one, at a hotel/hostel, was different. The 55 year-old alcoholic and drug addict had been suffering 30-minute nosebleeds for the past few days but had been dealing with them himself. This morning, however, he became more concerned when yet another nosebleed struck and couldn’t be stopped.

When I arrived he’d already been bleeding for half an hour and he was holding a blood-soaked bar towel to his nose. The flow was watery and constant – not a clot in sight – and he admitted to having taken heroin and cocaine (brown and white) the day before, as well as drinking alcohol but he didn’t snort the coke, so there was probably another, possibly unrelated reason for this flood of blood.

I put a heavy dressing on the nose and wrapped it around his head but the blood just soaked through it, so I put another on after I’d done his basic obs and made it a little tighter – this seemed to work. Then I got him in the car and took him quickly to hospital. No ambulances had been assigned and there was nothing on the horizon. I wasn’t prepared to sit there while he bled and bled, so I took him myself without a hitch or a complaint.

After a morning meeting and a quick run to help out with a regular caller who feigns chest pain for a hospital bed (a call on which I was no use at all because an ambulance had been sent) I went to the aid of a 39 year-old nurse who was complaining of chest pain with shortness of breath (SOB). This had been going on, minus the SOB, for a year and she’d been ignoring it as it always got better but now that her breathing was being affected she felt it best to get checked out, as she should. All her obs were normal and her ECG shouted out nothing of any consequence that I could see but something was amiss and her SOB was related, so she was taken by ambulance to hospital.

A Red call for a collapsed ‘unconscious’ woman resulted in myself and a crew arriving at the same time and climbing lots of narrow little steps to a flat at the top of a building in Soho. She wasn’t unconscious but her husband was dramatically bent over her starfish body as her eyelids fluttered (the tell-tale sign of someone who wants to be unconscious but actually isn’t). She has been suffering from post-natal depression and this was not her first dramatic collapse. She needs further medical care I feel because she isn’t getting better. I’m not unsympathetic here though because PND is a very real and significant problem and she wasn’t coping well with it, so her husband was being left literally ‘holding the baby’. We can do nothing for her and the support she gets from her own is really crucial.

Racism and the general hatred of uniforms and authority of any kind is on the rise in my opinion, regardless of the soap the statistics are being washed with by the Government. A 30 year-old Iranian Traffic Enforcer (Warden?) was allegedly assaulted by two men who chased him, challenging him to a fight and hurling verbal abuse, including some nasty racist comments after he’d issued a ticket. They allegedly grabbed him and used his own ticketing machine to thump him in the chest, right where he’d broken a rib earlier in his life. Now he had sharp pain which was worse when he breathed in deeply.

None of us like getting tickets and parking fines but it’s the system and costs we dislike, not the people doing the job, although most react as if it is personal. A lot of these enforcers will actually be lenient with you and give you a bit of a break if your reaction to them is positive. If they don’t, that’s tough and we all have to pay the fines if they are valid. What we can’t do is assault them for doing the job. And as for racist taunts about not being in this country and taking jobs from Brits, well, where are these Brits? Clearly, they don’t want to do those jobs. This man is in the country, working hard and paying taxes – contributing to society, like it or not. He's not leeching from the State or causing trouble.

We chatted about his country’s current predicament, given that there are practically unveiled threats to attack it and he said ‘why does everyone hate us’ - the man was genuinely distressed about what had happened to him. That’s the problem with the media – they report the ‘evil axis’ stuff and yes, there may be a problem developing in terms of possible nuclear weapons but haven’t we heard all this before? And Iranian people should not be demonised as a population just because of the bad apples. You don't see them falling about drunk in the street and you will rarely, if ever meet an Iranian who is disrespectful. The meat and two veg of my repeated complaints about what is happening to our society is relative to everyone who behaves badly and shouldn't - nothing whatsoever to do with who they are or where they come from because we Brits can often be the worst examples of how to live as a society.

I'm only five foot seven, so I needed a box to stand on for that. Phew!

Be safe.


Michael said...

Thanks for the blog, very interesting.

I happen to come across lots of iranians in my work and most of them are jolly nice :-)

jkiev1 said...

Just thought to ask what you do in a situation where you find someone acting unconscious? Did you confront the woman, comfort..?

As she had been suffering from a depression, was she using this unconscious state for attention, cry for help or something completely different?

Xf said...


It was important for her to realise that I (we) knew she wasn't unconscious so that we could get to the bottom of the problem - an ambulance and myself were tied up on this call after all.

What she needed was something we couldn't provide but she got all the professional comfort possible. As I said, PND is a very tricky thing and she was asking for help from someone... anyone.

jkiev1 said...

I guess if you didn't confront the woman she would only do it again at a later date thinking that you (everyone else) wouldn't tell that she was simply 'acting'.

And also when someone gets that desperate to realise she is using up not only your time but resources but also doing something on purpose to worry her husband, she must have been desperate for some sort of help. Any help.

Thanks for the response :)

Lesley said...

We were held up at a crossing outside a school today as we did the vet run (collecting post-op animals to return them to the animal re-homing centre) by a RTI... Paramedics everywhere, and loads of police and a very poorly looking lady being put on a trolley. Made me think of you and the wonderful work you do.... Don't ever become dispirited... You really do do a wonderful job, which really IS appreceated!

Anonymous said...

Hi Stuart, thank you for your blog. I have never been to London but somehow it seems more exciting then being a paramedic in the US. I have a blog too....about becoming a paramedic. Would you ever consider linking to it? Or putting us in your blogroll? I would also like to put a link to your blog on mine. My blog is how to become a paramedic

Anonymous said...

Hi Stuart, thank you for your blog. I have never been to London but somehow it seems more exciting then being a paramedic in the US. I have a blog too....about becoming a paramedic. Would you ever consider linking to it? Or putting us in your blogroll? I would also like to put a link to your blog on mine. My blog is how to become a paramedic