Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The cost of other people

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

Stats: 1 emotional ? shoulder injury; 1 chest pain; 1 alcoholic; 1 vertigo and ? cardiac; 1 ? # shoulder.

A 52 year-old woman, suffering from depression, cried and screamed in the car all the way to hospital after falling and hurting her shoulder. There was no obvious injury but she was very, very emotional and I sensed much more at play than a little accident.

‘Why are you so angry with me?’ she screamed when I got her to hospital. The fact that I hadn’t been responsive to her when she was given entonox and then demanded a tissue in a scolding, almost childish way, may have given her the impression that I wasn’t pleased with her but I know I kept that to myself.


Chest pain in a 20 year-old builder next. Usually, young people don’t have serious cardiac issues so we normally get on scene to find that it’s a panic attack or something muscular (or an infection) but this lad was as pale as a ghost when I walked into the on-site nurse’s office.

His pain started when he drank water from a bottle after carrying a heavy load with the same arm – so possibly muscular. However, his ECG was anomalous; ST elevation (which could have been high take-off) and an irregular pulse. He was taken to hospital by ambulance to get further checked out.


A bus crashed into a taxi in front of me as I ran on call number three; a 29 year-old alcoholic who stated he was fitting and even specified the hospital he wanted to go to. The crash happened because of this call – the bus was trying to move out of my way and the taxi got hit. For a short time my path was blocked completely. This was Red call, even though I knew it wasn’t in reality and I was still duty bound to get to it within eight minutes. The bus had to reverse and unpin the taxi before I could move again.

When I got on scene I couldn’t find the patient. I searched the street and eventually saw him, still inside the call box, talking to the 999 call-taker. This was ludicrous. He wasn’t fitting and hadn’t been fitting. He was an alcoholic who was trying to get off the street and into the alcoholics’ favourite London hospital.

The guy had cost tax payers thousands - there was the cost of myself, the ambulance and crew, the repair for the damage to the bus and taxi, the lost earnings of the taxi driver and the lost earnings of the bus company; we are probably talking about two or three thousand pounds and that's before he gets to hospital. 'Treatment' will cost another few hundred quid and when he's ready he'll go and draw money from the State to support his drinking... after which he'll go through the same cycle again and again. It would be cheaper to give him an allowance of £500 a week, put him in the best house in London with his freinds and leave him to it.

An ambulance came for him almost as soon as I got him out of the call box and I was asked to assist with a lady who’d fallen down a few steps and hurt her knee. I was there, so why not? The wound was cleaned up and she was given a lift to work (just along the road). At least by doing that I felt I had been called to this location to do something useful.


People suffering Vertigo have a hard time of it – vomiting every time they move and not knowing when it will strike.

Outside a pub a 62 year-old man sat in chair, looking very pale and ill. His friend was with him and I found out very quickly that this ‘dizzy’ call was a case of Vertigo. He’d suffered for years and nobody had been able to find the cause, but his pulse was slow (low to mid 50’s) and I was concerned about that, so as soon as the crew arrived, an ECG was carried out and I gave him Metoclopramide to control the sickness.

His ECG was normal but slow. He was still pale and sweaty and every time I asked him how he felt he said the same thing – ‘not good’. This statement, coming from someone who doesn’t make 999 calls from phone boxes every time he wants to hide in hospital, is ominous and so, without too much fuss, he was taken to hospital.

His Vertigo may have been the secondary affect of a Vagal disturbance or he may have a proper cardiac problem. It was best to get it checked out while he had signs and symptoms that could be analysed.


A second fallen woman, this time a 40 year-old, who tripped over a raised pavement slab and landed on her shoulder, possibly breaking it at the Humeral head, was with police and MOPs when I arrived on scene.

She had a bunch of flowers with her and she gave me them when I got her to hospital, in a sling and attached to entonox, because they’d wither and die as she waited for an x-ray. I gave them to the reception staff – they rarely get the thanks they deserve, so it was a fair transfer I think, rather than pick one patient among many to receive them.

Be safe.

6 comments:

the_dark_angel said...

Talking about drunks. I once had a weekend at work when we towed the same one drunk six times to the hospital. He'd allways run away when he got sober enough to regain consciousness, get another "Cheap Cherry" (a cheap sulfur-reeking "wine" made out of everything but cherries) and lie down wherever possible. Some caring, elderly citizens (or Bloody Care Bears in our vocabulary) would call us to "see to this poor human".

Usually, after we explained to them that it is actually they who paid for that run out of their health insurance, the drunk was quickly de-humanized in an outburst of geriatric verbal agression :P

Cara Cooper said...

Sounds like a busy day, but then aren't they all. I am fascinated by your posts as we live not far from a busy road and hear the ambulances all the time. I often wonder what it might like to do that for a living, fascinating as you've demonstrated, but frustrating too. As a 'member of the public' it's really interesting to hear it from your point of view, so thanks.

Cara Cooper said...

Sounds like a busy day, but then aren't they all. I am fascinated by your posts as we live not far from a busy road and hear the ambulances all the time. I often wonder what it might like to do that for a living, fascinating as you've demonstrated, but frustrating too. As a 'member of the public' it's really interesting to hear it from your point of view, so thanks.

Cara Cooper said...

Sounds like a busy day, but then aren't they all. I am fascinated by your posts as we live not far from a busy road and hear the ambulances all the time. I often wonder what it might like to do that for a living, fascinating as you've demonstrated, but frustrating too. As a 'member of the public' it's really interesting to hear it from your point of view, so thanks.

Vicki said...

I wish the paramedics that picked me up a few months ago were as sympathetic as you, I was given a really hard time for calling an ambulance when I got serious vertigo after banging my head. You do such a good job, I really enjoy your blog.

Fiz said...

We live in a very small town/large village and we only heard sirens very occasionally when we first moved to this house 16 years ago. I heard them every day last week...