Saturday, 17 July 2010

Alcohol and clever people don't mix

Night shift: Nine calls; one left at scene; six by ambulance; two by car.

Stats: 1 ? swallowed cannabis; 5 eTOH; 1 heart attack; 1 assault with eye injury; 1 RTC with broken foot.


Cops were standing guard over a suspected shoplifter who claimed she’d swallowed cannabis. When I arrived, she was sitting in the security room with the contents of her pockets strewn over the bench. She told me she’d thrown it back up and then went on to deny she’d ever had any. The amount, she said, was so small as to be insignificant, although she used less polished terms.

She was probably telling the truth but who in their right mind is going to admit to swallowing a lot of the stuff? She was very upset about going to hospital though. I wonder why.


On the street, outside a decent hotel, a large Glaswegian alcoholic lay with his jumper over his head and a river of urine running from his trousers to the road via the kerb. So, naturally, someone called an ambulance.

I had to act as translator when the crew arrived because the man spoke broad Glaswegian and if you have ever heard it, then you will understand how foreign it can sound. At last, I had a role to play in the drama of the street drunk. Oh, and he was clutching a bottle of very decent Port; not that I drink the stuff but I know it’s not the drink of the masses - least not the drunken Glasgow masses. And he had a takeaway Indian meal in a box all ready to be taken home and eaten. He was obviously on his way back to share a meal and a drink with someone when he stumbled and decided to sleep it off- by which I mean he’d already consumed an entire bottle of Port (there was an empty one on the street nearby) en route.

The crew were novices at Glasgow-speed talk, so I helped them out until they could determine, without the need for Language-line, that the man 'winae gonnae be deed any minnit', as we say.


Like I’ve often said, some jobs can catch you out and my assumption that the 50 year-old man who had collapsed in the West End, and who was being tended by police, would probably be yet another drunk proved entirely wrong when I saw his face as I got on scene. He was very pale and very unwell looking.

His wife and friends were with him and almost as soon as I started to check him out, he became vacant and floppy. He looked, in fact, like he was about to go into cardiac arrest. I got the defib out and the ECG. He was put on oxygen and pads were placed onto his chest as he lay back onto the pavement, looking for all the world (and most were passing by) that he was about to go on me. He didn’t, luckily, and after what seemed a long time of calming his wife and friends, the ambulance arrived.

His ECG confirmed the two previous strips that I’d already taken – he was having an anterior MI, so we got him to the appropriate hospital rapidly.

He was still conscious and aware when we arrived and he was taken up to the cardiac unit. His wife and friends were understandably anxious but I persuaded them that everything was fine and that he was in good hands.


The funniest gay couple on Earth next I think; one of them ‘Rocky’ (don’t worry they won’t mind) was flat on the ground, very drunk, with a police officer standing over him. The other, at about 3 feet tall, was leaning against the wall, telling me that his boyfriend was ‘too drunk’. This young man had the squeakiest voice I’ve heard for a long time and used it to state the obvious - repeatedly.

The Booze Bus was coming down the road on its way to another call but I got it flagged down and the crew were happy to take ‘Rocky’ and his squeaky-voiced boyfriend to hospital.


On Shaftesbury Avenue a group of friends protected an 18 year-old girl who’d allegedly become unconscious for ten minutes after a guy she’d rejected threw a glow stick at her, striking her eye and causing minor damage to it. She denied drinking much and her friends were very vociferous about this but I can’t believe a plastic tube in the eye will knock you out a good while after the incident. Still, it needed to be reported to the police, so that’s what happened.

A crew arrived to take her to hospital and her mates, the males especially, got a bit noisy and shuffly about not being able to travel with her. I carried her sister and a friend in the car; that way there was no more arguing. Honestly!


The worst type of drunk is the intelligent type, in my opinion. A 24 year-old newly qualified doctor (yes doctor), was carried towards the car by her friends and a large gentleman who told me where to park when I arrived. Like I needed directions to the kerb.

Her friend was a lawyer. I know that because she told me when she decided she’d obstruct my care of her staggering mate. She argued that the very drunken doc had been ‘spiked’ but they all say that and generally, it’s the drink that did it... not a date-rape drug. She was so determined to come with her friend that she woman-handled me as I put her mate in the car and then tried to get in practically by force. I have a bruise in my armpit where her stupid thick thumb gripped me as if I was a piece of flotsam and she was a drowning important person.

I got the police to calm her down and keep her out of my way as her friend projectile vomited in the back of the car and contaminated all my equipment. A large puddle of thick vomit occupied the seat next to her and it was left to me to clean it all up - I needed to use the 'scrape and scoop' technique.

I had no choice but to take this lady to hospital in the car because there was nothing available. One of her other friends approached me and asked if she could come with her. 'Are you sober and sensible?' I asked politely. She came along but as soon as I started to drive, she too swore at me, telling me to 'shut the f**k up' and ordering me to turn the radio music down (which I could barely hear), because it was 'inappropriate'. This happened while I was driving them to A&E. She repeatedly told me of how much trouble I was in and the extent of the complaint she would file against me. Even in the hospital A&E department she told the nurse I was a 'knob'.

I honestly believe they thought that their ‘breeding’ and education meant they had free reign to speak to me as though I were nothing more than dog waste on their shoes. It was a disgusting display of abuse and I, for one, am not prepared to just sit there and take it. On the way in, I warned her that if she spoke to me again like that she’d be out of the car. That, I think, is fair enough and I was certainly prepared to stop and turf her out.

I heard later that the abuse continued inside the hospital and that her other friends, who all turned up, had to be stopped from mobbing their way into the A&E department. Vulgarities were thrown around because the nurses and doctors wouldn't do a drugs test on her! Remember, these were all newly-qualified professional individuals. I had to call the police to protect myself and my patient from these people, all of whom will wake up with headaches and no remorse whatsoever about their behaviour because I am NHS and they are... oh, fill it in yourselves.

I think I am getting very tired of this job now to be honest.


An RTC that I thought would lift me from Hell to the clinical stuff I was actually trained for was a disappointment – not that I wish to underestimate the pain and emotional stress a broken foot would cause after a taxi had run over it – but because it required no skill on my part and the crew arrived pretty quickly, so there was virtually no proper examination of the patient, a 20 year-old woman.

While I was waiting for the crew to land, two men starting laying into a car driver in the middle of the road. He was in his car and the blokes were punching his face through his open windows. The police were on scene with the broken foot girl, so all of this was taking place in full view of the law. Needless to say they were both nicked after a brief chase – they could hardly deny it after all.


I was asked by a MOP to help out a man who was having trouble walking. ‘He’s really wasted’, the young Somali man told me. So, I went to see and what I saw was a drunken man, that’s all. The young man who’d asked me to help insisted that he needed to go to hospital but he didn’t even know him – he was just a fellow Somali.

To prove a point, after a long time waiting for an ambulance that really wasn’t needed, and an entertaining period of Glaswegian banter from the concerned young Somali man (he was brought up in Glasgow and born in Amsterdam but still thought he was Somalian - he was Dutch, wasn't he?), I called the whole thing off. The drunken man had unzipped his fly as I was talking to his girlfriend on his mobile phone (not that I knew her you understand). He’d pulled his penis out and I knew what was about to happen. I’d already suffered the messy vomit from Doctor Drunk; I wasn’t having any of this nonsense, so I put the phone down and took my leave, calling in a cancellation while he drunkenly, brazenly and shamelessly (which all amounts to the same thing) peed like a horse in full view of everyone passing on Leicester Square.


The shift ended with a drunken male who was sleeping it off on a grass verge. Four PCSO’s guarded him until I arrived and there was little I could do but look at him and do a few obs until the ambulance arrived to take him away. See? I have my uses.

Be safe.

5 comments:

Fiz said...

What breeding and education, Stuart? They obviously have none if they behave in such a manner. I'm not surprised you're fed up, so would I be, and I wouldn't have stuck it so long either! ((((Hugs)))

Marlene said...

Stuart, you should be held in the highest regard for what you do but instead it sometimes seems that you are overworked, underpaid and underappreciated. I guess every now and then a job comes along that reminds you why you do the job you do and thats the feeling you have to keep hold of. I don't even live in the area you work in but I still appreciate the work you do, its selfless even if you do get paid for it I still think there should be more appreciation for the emergency services. Peace x

Peter said...

Sorry to hear about the abuse from the 'educated' drunks. A drunken idiot is a drunken idiot. Some of my colleagues have had unpleasant experiences with sober doctors. Perhaps they were just not used to alcohol? We get a load of trouble around christmas time with 'first time' drinkers (first time they've been intoxicated this year)

Japh said...

Seems that you get thrown abuse and automatic hatred with a side of puke and urine.

People like that give a bad name to human beings, they are the low of the low treating someone that is well entitled as a "hero" by so many as well a piece of crap to be straight.

I hope this shift didn't get to you too much. I hope that your hope in human mankind isn't too lost to be brought back.

Japhia.

Deborah said...

What a horrible lot. One they will have a secretary and I can just imagine how they will treat her. funny isn't it? Presumably had a reasonably well-off family background, what is supposed to be called a good education.