Night shift: Ten calls; one assisted-only; one no trace and eight by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Faint, ?CVA; 4 eTOH including 1 with a head injury and 1 fitting; 2 Sober head injuries; 1 Assault with fractured cheek; 1 Chest pain.
A 55 year-old poetry publisher collapsed at a posh gathering of writers and associates – he appeared to have fainted and was recovering but his answers to simple questions like ‘what’s your name’ were slow and vague, so he was taken to hospital on the assumption that something else – something neurological – may be going on. Meanwhile, I went around the block twice trying to get out of the little square that I had become locked into. London is full of these quaint, traffic-unfriendly and annoying places.
My hand was gripped and warmly shaken by a 50 year-old drunken man whose two large sons had called us because their father was becoming difficult to handle at a train station. He smiled at me, shook my hand and then told the crew to ‘f**k off’ before the smile had left his face. Neat trick. Only playing the part of an evil Emperor or vast amounts of consumed alcohol can make that performance look easy.
Alcohol also makes people cry far too much when a few tears would normally suffice. In fact, crying for no reason at all is oft times part of the effect, as was the case on my next call to a 25 year-old female who’d had a little too much. She too had settled down at a station – underground this time – and she too became a completely different person when the crew took over from me. The thin, dreadlocked woman was taken away, weeping and moaning about stuff, only to turn around and start abusing the crew as soon as I had gone, according to the accounts I heard later. She was thrown out of hospital by security apparently. I never knew I had such a calming affect on emotional drunks. Usually I’m the one getting abused. Tonight made a nice change.
The serious call of the shift was for a 25 year-old male who was found in the middle of a very busy public place with a massive head injury - apparently he fell…allegedly.
HEMS was called for this one and there was a crew and another FRU on scene when I arrived. He was conscious but not in good shape. When HEMS pulled up in their distinctive Subaru, the team went with him into the back of the ambulance and I knew that they would probably RSI him for his own good (you can look up these abbreviations in the TPD glossary. Although by the time I’d typed that in I could just have told you what they meant. Never mind…too late).
A call from a phone box for an alleged fitting person turned out to be the invisible man having a seizure again, so I called that one a no-trace. Soon afterwards I was in a hostel holding down an alcoholic who was having his fourth seizure of the night in quick succession. I had to be very careful to avoid his size ten boots as they flailed around on his feet, looking for a yellow-jacket wearing target. Luckily, his aim was poor.
A 22 year-old whose girlfriend described his assault as a ‘pummelling’ stood inside a noisy club in the early hours nursing a broken cheekbone after someone laid into him for whatever reason is needed these days. He seemed like a sensible, fairly sober type of guy but I think he needs to have a word with his partner about her choice of words while he’s feeling sorry for himself. Outside in the drunk world, a large lorry is continually hooting his horn in anger at the empty ambulance (the crew are with me) on the road. They have parked rather inconsiderately and he’s not happy. How dare an emergency service vehicle park so that a large, smelly vehicle cannot pass! The ambulance driver should at least have spent time looking for a perfectly shaped area between vehicles before jumping out with his crew mate to deal with the call. I mean, someone could be held up for ten minutes by such antics. Hey, I’m being ironic and sarcastic incidentally. He wouldn't have been making that racket if it had been a police vehicle on duty.
Then I spent a long time looking after a 19 year-old drunken man who was lolling and vomiting on Leicester Square while his diminutive Chinese ‘friend’ kicked him in the back of the knees if he dared to stand up and stagger, ensuring that his legs buckled and he came crashing back down again – control restored. I had to warn the guy to stop doing it. His drunken mate already had a small head injury as a result of falling and the technique currently being employed to keep him in the same place until a taxi was hailed, wasn’t working to his benefit. I certainly couldn’t stand by and watch as he was repeatedly assaulted in the name of friendship.
I intended to sit and monitor him until he was scraped off the pavement and into a cab but as the hour wore on I realised he was going nowhere and was only fit for hospital, so I requested an ambulance for him and sat in the car, or hovered around him, keeping an eye out for any sudden deterioration. All he needed was a bed and a chance to sober up but he was too out of it to go home, especially with friends like the one who was coaching his knees to crumple.
I apologised to the crew when they arrived and the little Chinese guy, who refused to travel with his mate, mocked a phone at his ear and said ‘call me’ to his drunken companion. I thought they might be lovers the way he’d said it, then I thought the patient would never remember the emotion of it anyway.
Later on, when I’d recovered from my long stint of being a knight in green armour, I went off to a Red1 in Soho, expecting to find a corpse or as near-as-dammit lying in the street. Instead I found a crowd gathered around a young woman who’d slipped while running. She’d been unfortunate enough to run into a pool of cooking oil that had been left in the middle of the pavement by someone.
Police were on scene and blue chequered tape was being cordoned around us to stop people from walking into the same disaster area. The tape was tied around the wing mirror of my car for want of a better place. I felt offended... a bit.
The 25 year-old was flat on her back and absolutely covered in greasy, slimy oil. Her hair was ruined. She complained of pain but wasn’t specific – I think the shock of ice-rinking it along the pavement when she didn’t expect to and then landing unceremoniously on her rear didn’t do her confidence any good. She was sobbing.
She was still sobbing when she walked/slid to the ambulance.
My shift ended in the wee small hours with a 40 year-old man who just wanted to get off the cold streets for the night. He told the police he had heart problems. They didn’t believe him but we are not here to judge, so he was taken to a warm, safe hospital with all the others who’d gone before him.