Thursday, 25 March 2010

Moped Sandwich

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

Stats: 1 Cut finger; 2 Faints; 1 Leg injury; 1 Service run; 1 RTC.

A chef was tidying up in his kitchen when the door buzzer sounded, startling him. A delivery person had shown up earlier than normal and this unexpected visit caused the chef to grip a wine glass a little too tightly as he put it away. It shattered in his hand and cut through the tip of his forefinger, severing a vein but not the artery. He covered it with a tea towel (there was no first aid kit in sight) and the delivery person called an ambulance. He didn’t need the emergency response and he could easily have taken himself to a Minor Injuries Unit or the local A&E but, since I was there, I dressed it, elevated it and carried it, with him attached, to hospital in the car.

I may be slow in finding this out but, for the benefit of those of you that don’t know; tetanus injections are no longer given routinely. In fact, unless you have never been given it or you cut yourself down on the farm, you will not get a jab when you cut yourself and go to hospital to have it treated.

More often than not, faints in young people are benign but it’s always smart to err on the side of caution when dealing with first timers and my next call took me to Covent Garden, where a 23 year-old female had passed out at work, landing on the concrete floor of her shop when she fell by all accounts. Her four colleagues were with her when I arrived and she had begun to recover, although she still had a headache and was a bit vague and ‘wooly’.

While she got better I checked her obs and chatted with the women standing around us. The shop hadn’t yet opened and there was time for light-hearted banter as I monitored the fallen woman. I decided to take her in the car, after giving her the choice because she was fully recovered and stable now. She’d need a proper medical examination to rule out any problems with her heart before she could go back to work, so off she went to A&E. Her Canadian friend accompanied her and we had a conversation about the history of Scottish Royalty – a topic I don’t normally get to jaw about. We also talked about the hidden secrets of London. My patient suggested I do a tour and I thought about it; the London Ambulance tour of London... could be a winner.

Then a man who had a minor RTC and whose Hamstring was pulled as a result had me rushing down to watch him limp dramatically on the pavement. He had a very minor injury and his initial aggressive tone convinced me that I was the pawn in a game that was being played between him and the female taxi driver whose cab he’d hit. I examined him, did his obs and he took my paperwork before I left him to wait for the police to come and sort out this in-street domestic.

The ambulance service is often used as arbiter in such disputes – someone with ‘pain’ being checked out by a crew is less likely to be frowned upon by those wishing to blame him for something I think.

Not long after the ink on my PRF for that job was dry, I was tasked to go to the aid of a crew who had a diabetic patient on their ambulance. They needed a BM monitor because theirs had either packed up or was missing. These things happen. They shouldn’t but they do. It was a long four-mile run, most of which was spent sitting behind a truck driver who couldn’t or simply wouldn’t move out of my way. He was, however, very keen to acknowledge my existence with a finger shown in his wing mirror. This rude and totally uncalled-for gesture could easily have put my unprofessional side into gear but both my hands remained on the wheel. I raised an eyebrow instead. Yeah, that should do it.

An 18 year-old Chinese girl got herself caught up in the ‘fainting on the underground’ that commonly occurs in London. The heat, prolonged standing (where applicable) or a combination of these and other physiological interactions can make just about anybody fall down but it’s more likely to happen to a female (sorry but I have the stats!). She didn’t want to go to hospital and I gave her and her two friends a lift to Covent Garden, which was the next place they were visiting on their short tour of London.

A very lucky motorcyclist was caught on the outside of a bus, between the vehicle and a barrier. He and his ride were dragged for about five metres before the bus stopped but he only sustained a minor hand injury as the result of his right hand being pulled across the metal posts of the barrier as he travelled (whether he liked it or not) at the unsympathetic behest of the bus. If he’d lost his balance or misjudged a single move during his experience, he may well have been crushed bodily against the barrier or been dragged under the wheel of the bus. Despite the advertising currently going on for us to look out for motorcyclists (and indeed that would include any two-wheeled vehicle), incidents are still occurring like this.

The man was toughing it out and declined to go to hospital. His wound was very superficial anyway and there was no reason to drag him off to A&E. He probably wanted to go and think about his life after such a shock.

'You were very lucky', I told him.

'No, not lucky', he said, as if he knew someone was watching over him.

Be safe.


Stonehead said...

You don't get tetanus shots when you yourself down on the farm either. I've had a couple of nasty cuts while working on the croft in the past few years but, despite them being from rusted metal in a dirt and manure rich environment, doctors did not give tetanus shots. The last one I had was when I was in my late teens, so more than 25 years ago.

The last doctor I saw said "immunisation is for life", but then read a leaflet and added "but 74% of UK cases are people over the age of 45". He then shrugged, told me to be aware of the symptoms and told me to come back if I developed any of them.

I only had the injuries seen by a doctor because of what I thought to be the risk of tetanus or other infections. Now, I just clean, close and dress any injuries myself—it's more than an hour to the nearest A&E, there's limited or no out-of-hours GP cover, and it's not worth the hassle of bothering the NHS for treatment. It's no different to treating injured livestock.

Rick said...

I can't help but agree with the motorcyclist - any day on which I get hit by a bus is surely not my lucky day. He may, however, have been less thoroughly unlucky than he might have been...

Do your cars carry cameras and loggers? I know there are no laws about this as such, but in cases like the truck driver you mention it would be nice to feel that people with so little judgment that they would obstruct and abuse medics on blues would have their licences removed.

Xf said...


Not at the moment. We just have to smile and wave. It's the NHS way.

Martina Rowley said...

I have huge respect for paramedics at the best of times, but for keeping your cool behind that van driver you deserve some sort of award. I confess I may have snapped off the finger he was gesturing with and inserted it into the most unpleasant bodily oriface I could find.

Lesley said...

In order to allowed to be a volunteer to work at our local animal re-homing centre, one of the requirements was to have anti-tet jabs, despite having had several over a lifetime.

As for the ignorant lorry time, try blowing him a can be quite disconcerting, be it from a man or a woman!

Xf said...


Thanks! I would do that but I fear that if one of my biker brothers saw me blowing kisses to red-faced lorry drivers, I'd be cut off from the fraternity - it's hard enough to get in without a leather suit on!