Night shift: Five calls; three declined; two by car. No ambulances tonight.
Stats: 1 Eye injury; 2 eTOH; 1 Head injury; 1 Vomiting.
I was told I looked a bit grey and unwell last night by a colleague. Maybe I’m working too hard.
We were short on ambulances tonight, like last night, so I was Control’s car-bitch and my first patient, who tripped and drunkenly fell onto her face outside a pub needed a short car journey to A&E more than an ambulance and crew anyway.
She had a huge swollen eye but the eyeball itself was in good order, although she couldn’t see from it due to the puffy, closed upper lid. She will be lucky to have escaped a fracture, judging by the severity of it. She was, as you can imagine, quite distressed about her injury and she wasn’t too drunk, so it was more of a lack of judgment that made her fall than an inability to stay upright. I drove her to A&E where friends met her and she chatted to them about her horrible night out.
I spent almost 4 hours of my shift giving a statement to the police as the result of the next call. My CRU colleague requested I convey a drunken 23 year-old man who was with his fiancé and a friend. He’d been celebrating his birthday but the alcohol had brought out the worst in him (or something else had) and he was verbally abusive from the start. Even then, I felt, with his fiancé on board, he could be taken home to sleep it off rather than into a crowded hospital where his language would cause concern. He spat expletives as if they were normal grammatical additions to conversation and I had to warn him many times about his behaviour towards me but he persisted in between strange calms.
At one point the door alarm on the car sounded and I realised that he had opened his door while I was moving. Normally the locks are on but I must have forgotten to engage this one and now he was attempting to get out of the car. I stopped and he stepped into the road, shouting as he did so. His behaviour was manic and bordering on psychotic.
I managed to get him back into the vehicle and continued the journey. I still had a duty of care and his fiancé, who’d been trying to quieten him down, was my concern too. For safety’s sake I requested that police meet us at his home address. Amid continued shouting and verbal abuse, some of which was extremely threatening towards me, he leaned forward and grabbed my shoulder, pulling me back into the seat. I disengaged his grip and warned him that the police had been called. Ironically, a police operation was taking place where I’d stopped and an officer asked if I was okay. I told him what had been going on and the man was promptly arrested.
This incident will no doubt cause the exponents against my role in conveying patients to say ‘we told you so’ but this risk is inherent in all patient transfers, in an ambulance or a car and his behaviour could not be measured accurately until it was too late. He didn’t become physically abusive until later and his language is something we all deal with on a regular basis. I agree that it may not be a risk worth taking and if his fiancé had not been with him I wouldn’t have carried him at all. Lesson learned though - next time, he/she or it will be thrown out of the vehicle.
On returning to my station a large piece of my car fell off and that put a damper on the night for me. Now I had a car off the road and it took me another two hours to get back on and only after ‘borrowing’ a vehicle from another department. Now the rest of my shift would involve ‘clearing up’ calls that were waiting, including a 30 year-old man who’d been assaulted – a girl had cracked a bottle over his head in a pub. He was an amiable young guy and he declined to go to hospital, so I checked him out and decided, as the bump on his head was almost three hours old, he may as well stay where he was.
This was swiftly followed by a call for a 22 year-old female who thought her drink had been spiked. The truth is, she was drunk. Her friends were with her and agreed to take her home to sleep it off after she declined to go to hospital.
Finally, as the rain-soaked battle mud settled in London I was sent to an 18 year-old man who was vomiting for the past 10 hours, apparently. His mother was with him and he did look rather pale but she wanted me to give him something as a quick fix because they were driving back home (a four hour trip) and she didn’t want him heaving up all over the car. Fair enough but at his age there was no quick fix and he was probably suffering a viral infection or had eaten something bad. Either way he was going to go through the vomiting motions until his brain got the message.
They didn’t fancy spending an eternity in A&E so I left them to sort it out with advice to call a GP or go to hospital if it continued.
* The stupid man who went for me in the car was fined and now has a criminal record.