Sunday, 6 November 2011


They were filming scenes from the forthcoming updated film version of ‘The Sweeney’ in and around Trafalgar Square today. I know this for two reasons; firstly because, as my breakfast lay beside me in the car, all hot and fresh and lovely looking, I was sent a call that placed me right on top of the location – Trafalgar Square. A drunken male was standing/slumping against one of the statues and security staff couldn’t move him. So I had to let my coffee and breakfast bun get cold, as I attempted to persuade the man to move on. Unfortunately he couldn’t or wouldn’t, so I had to call an ambulance for him. He was so far gone on alcohol that he’d become a statue himself.

The staff on scene told me that a film crew was about to start shooting, and that they wanted him cleared from the Square as soon as possible. I obliged by helping the crew to load him into the ambulance. He was, however, unable/unwilling to help us and he was no lightweight, so he remained on the floor of the ambulance – sleeping soundly and only responding to refuse, by means of pushing and hand-raising, any attempt to help him or take measurements. I’d managed to get a BM, which was lucky, but he was resistant to anything else.

He lay where he lay all the way to hospital and had to be physically ‘spilled’ out onto a chair at the other end.

The other thing that alerted me to the movie shoot was the presence later on of all sorts of actors, lighting and cameras... and a very loud Director who was telling the public, via megaphone, to ‘stay back’ or ‘get out of the way’. The headliner for this movie is Ray Winstone, a great British actor that I have tons of respect for; I remember going to the cinema when I was a teenager and watching him in a movie called ‘Scum’ – a very hard-hitting film about life in a Juvenile Detention Centre. From then, the man’s career has just gone from strength to strength.

A 94 year-old lady with shortness of breath (SOB) sat in a chair in her front room while her carer explained what the problem was and her husband, who was as old as she, undulated in temperament from ranting, repeated confusion to quiet acceptance of his wife’s condition. He had Alzheimer’s and, even though I’d explained that his wife was going to hospital and that her breathing was not good, he still asked what was happening and where she was going.

The crew wrapped her up in oxygen and blankets and he was left with the carer. It was very sad to think that these two would possibly never see each other again.

My pharmacist observer joined me again at this point; she’d had a rubbish shift last time, so now that I was back on air, I thought it only fair to re-invite her today.

In a tourist hotel I met a family from the Lebanon whose 22 year-old son stumbled off a step awkwardly the night before, after a drinking session that surely took control of his ability to feel pain appropriately. Unsurprisingly, he woke up with a very swollen ankle; a sprain for sure, and possibly a fracture, as a result of the twisting missed-step from last night.

His family – dad, mum and sister Beatrice (a lovely and not so well known Lebanese name – I’m kidding; it’s not Lebanese, but you know that, right?), were in the room as I cautioned the young man about drinking too much in future. The difference between a twisted landing from a few steps and a fall onto an underground rail is not so great, as you will know if you are regular reader of this blog.

Anyway, they were very nice people and during the short trip to hospital (ankle boy went with his mum in the ambulance and dad and Beatrice joined me in the car) we chatted about many things, relevant and irrelevant. I don’t often chat to people with any depth unless I know them well and they care enough to listen, but I felt I got on well with the dad to exchange views.

Once in hospital, I bid them all goodbye and I was given permission to mention them here. Beatrice won’t mind at all, unless I’ve spelled her name incorrectly!

Back on the square, the action scenes were being filmed and Mr Winston, et al, were running around with guns that made no sound, except a faint click as they expended plastic shells. The Director helped co-ordinate the sound with the action by shouting ‘bang, bang... running, running... bang, bang, bang!’ Hilarious.

During a break in the proceedings, one of the cast, a 67 year-old female, was brought to me and she explained that, during the running-shooting scene, one of the ‘gunmen’ had fallen on top of her on the stairs. She was an extra and he was one of the actors. Apparently, he weighed a bit, and so the collision had caused her neck and shoulder pain, which she went to extraordinary lengths to remind me about... she continued her medical history with the crew when they arrived to take over.

She was also very concerned about what her Supervisor would say... she wanted her personal belongings brought to her and she had to sign something if she couldn’t continue with the day, so I agreed to sort this out for her.

Meanwhile, a knock on the ambulance door alerted us to a new patient. He was vomiting blood on the pavement outside; behind the ambulance in fact. It was all getting a bit dramatic on Trafalgar Square!

The man vomiting blood had a genetic condition that caused this, among other things, to occur and he was reasonably stable when I checked him out. I asked for another ambulance, and when the crew saw the man, they recognised him and knew of his problems. This helped speed up the delivery process, so I could get on with finding the actresses personal bits and pieces.

I hunted her Supervisor down in a restaurant, not far from the square, and I explained what had happened to her. I asked for her personal belongings (I’d been given a list) and it became a bit of a treasure hunt. There were lots of acting types eating and drinking in the place, and the neck/shoulder patient’s stuff was somewhere among them all. I had to follow descriptions written on her notes so that I could locate everything she owned. It took a few tries (how many bags with black checks could there be in one place?), but I eventually solved the clues.

With Control’s permission, we trundled to the hospital where the lady had been taken, and gave her what she owned.

After a short interval, during which we were able to watch a little more of the movie being shot in the square, I was called to an elderly doctor in a very posh building. He was having difficulty breathing. As we entered the building, a woman told us to go up to the fourth floor. A lift took us up to a bedroom and there, on the bed, was the patient. He was in trouble. His breathing was very poor and his lungs rattled with fluid – even without a stethoscope it was audible. His sats were 80% on air and I gave him a little oxygen to boost it.

The retired doctor had chronic lung disease and was clearly dying. The woman downstairs was his wife and the entire building was their home. Nobody else lived with them. It was eerie to walk down the stairs after the crew had arrived to take the patient away (they’d need the lift); every floor was in darkness and clearly unused, but there was evidence of a past life in each shadow-filled room... evidence of a healthier, younger couple who’d occupied all of the house, instead of the small parts they now moved between using the lift.

Off to the London Aquarium next for a 3 year-old ‘coughing up blood’. This is normally not the case and all that usually happens is a little of the red stuff comes out after a particularly exertive coughing session that is violent enough to tear the small blood vessels in the throat. I wasn’t anticipating a catastrophe to be honest, and when we arrived it took a while to locate the exact spot I’d been given.

When we got to the restaurant, there was no sign of a child, mother or blood to support the call. But as we left, a woman told me that the mother had literally just gone with the little boy. She was making her own way across the road to hospital. She also told me that the child had coughed after eating and a large pool of blood had come from his mouth. This was not the description I expected and so I was relieved that mum and child had gone because it is actually a longer trip by vehicle than it is on foot in that particular place.

The shift ended with the alleged beating up of a 16 year-old school girl by a gang of Travellers who’d entered the fast food restaurant she and her friends were in. According to the young girl, one of them had tripped over her foot and turned on her as if she’d stuck it out deliberately. The gang surrounded her and she got a couple of punches to the face, just for being there. The assault was allegedly carried out by a 14 year-old boy.

I met her and her friends... and her teacher, at a police station, where they were recording the incident. The culprits may never be caught, but this young French visitor will probably never trust this City again. Her nose looked broken but she’d need an xray to confirm that.

Be safe.

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