Sunday, 18 July 2010

Only the car died tonight

Night shift: Six calls; two walked off; one by police van; three by ambulance.

Stats: 3 cardiac arrests that weren’t; 1 sleeping man; 1 abdo pain; 1 assault with facial injuries.

When is a cardiac arrest not a cardiac arrest? Most of the time - that’s tonight’s answer.

Red1 no.1 was reported as a 70 year-old male with a head injury in cardiac arrest and I raced to the scene, miles away, only to find a crew already there with a 17 year-old who’d fainted. Mum doesn’t speak English, so the 999 call was always going to be dangerous for us from the start.

Red1 no.2 turned out to be a sleeping man that nobody wanted to touch – he got himself up and walked away as I arrived on scene.

Red1 no.3 took me miles away with an engine running like it has a sore throat (I think the turbo has gone – again – on the car), only to find that a crew was on scene and they had a young woman thrashing around being all dramatic on the stretcher. She was drunk and hysterical. She’d vomited and ‘passed out’ apparently. Vomiting can do that.

I packed the defib away again and cursed my luck for being stuck with this night shift.

Strangely, the fourth call wasn’t a Red1 but the guy was lying in the bushes as if he was dead. A passing driver had stopped and called us but he didn’t want to touch him. So, I gave him the LAS wake up protocol and he told me to f**k off. The guy in the bushes said that, not the passing driver. Just so you know.

I tried a few times more until he stood up as if he was going to land one on me - you know when they stand up so quickly and move towards you - and I honestly thought he might, so I stepped back and waited. He walked away and that was that.

A running call in Leicester Square for a 27 year-old drug addict who had abdominal pain next. She is a local druggie who lives on the street but gives us no trouble at all. Her abdomen was very distended – she looked pregnant with it but the locality of her pain meant her Liver, which was already being destroyed by Hep C, was probably the root cause and fluid was building up in her belly. People with chronic Hep C are vulnerable and can develop a condition known as Ascites and possibly bacterial Peritonitis when their Cirrhosis progresses. A diuretic would be needed – and possibly antibiotics – to treat this but her disease will eventually kill her. Soon enough, on another night shift at another time, she simply won't be there any more.

I called an ambulance for her and she was very grateful to be treated seriously. I don’t know why she thought I wouldn’t believe her. As I said, she never ever calls us unless she is actually ill.

As the morning crawled in and my car continued to misbehave, a call came in for a 30 year-old male who’d allegedly been assaulted by multiple persons in the street. He was smacked in the face, kicked a bit and then robbed. His bloody nose had dripped a trail across the pavement, suggesting that he wasn’t knocked out.

He declined aid and didn’t want to go to hospital, so his mind was changed by the police and by that time I’d cancelled the ambulance, leaving only the police van to carry him in.

Then, inevitably, the car died. On the way back to base and just as I was calling time on the shift, smoke began to emanate from the back of the vehicle. I pulled over, switched off the engine and waited for rescue by my Station Officer. On my way home I passed the FRU, parked where I’d left it and waiting for a low-loader to cart it off to surgery.

Be safe.


Gordonjcp said...

I know this is not always practical, but with a turbocharged engine it's a good idea to let it idle for a minute or two before you switch off, especially if you've just driven it hard. Like, oh, maybe if you're racing to attend to a fainting 17-year-old.

Letting the engine idle for a bit blows (relatively) cool gases through the turbo and lets it spin down from the tens of thousands of revs per minute it spins at when working. If you just stop the engine, it stops being fed cool oil and the bearings get very hot and fail.

Anonymous said...

I was just wondering.. regarding that junkie (-woman) with abdo pain, you said you took her seriously and everything but how do you go about if you get people like her (i.e. you know she's a drug addict) and they're in pain .. Would you still administer morphine IV if you know she's a junkie? (Especially, if she IS in real pain AND a heroine addict she would need a much higer dosage as well, wouldn't she) Did you give her anything for the pain??


Xf said...


Good question and I think the honest answer is - I would think about it. Finding a vein on her would have been all but impossible and there's always entonox. I don't think morphine would have touched her pain.

I left that decision to the crew.