Monday, 9 February 2009


Day shift: Three calls; one assisted-only and two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Faint; 1 Near-faint; 1 RTC with arm injury.

So, my night shifts were interrupted so that I could attend court – I wasn’t upset about this at all!

I waited for over an hour before being called as a witness for the Coroner and I was ‘on stage’ for less than ten minutes giving my evidence. It was strange to hear the entire life story of a person I’d seen dead the first and only time I’d encountered them. More often than not we get very little detail about the human being whose body we are resuscitating or calling time on. It defuses the emotion you’d feel; the sadness of knowing the person as a living being, not as a corpse. In that respect not knowing their history is probably for the best.

By the time I got back to my station, the afternoon was upon us and I took the car out for a mere three-call shift, which was fine because the weather wasn’t (fine, that is). It poured freezing rain relentlessly.

My first call was to a female who’d fainted inside the reception area of a school. She was one of the parents and had been complaining of abdominal pain for a while before she passed out, according to the staff on scene.

I crawled to a halt outside the place as kids and parents were pouring out (great timing) and I had to wait until a stupid woman with her small children, including one in a pram, got out of my way. She was in the middle of the road with not a care about the traffic…or me and my blue-lights. I bet she’d be the first to shout at anyone driving too fast or too close to her precious cargo – it’s a shame her horse was higher than the pavement she should have been using because I would have spent time chatting to her about the stupidity of her actions.

Inside the school, little kids were bustling past with parents dragging behind and the patient lay in the recovery position, looking, for the world, like she was unconscious, as I attempted to get a story above the din.

The woman’s eyelids were fluttering and I asked her to open them because I knew she could. The crew arrived as I was getting a name and some details from her, so I asked for a chair to make life easier and she was taken out to the ambulance where it was child-free. Her own kid, incidentally, had been taken home by a neighbour.

I caught the obs and decided to leave the crew alone. She wasn’t in trouble and her faint had probably never been an actual event (more likely a near-faint), so I made my way back to the station, from where I launched myself for the rest of the day, given the unpleasant weather.

RTC’s are the last type of call you want to get on a day like this. Your uniform is going to get soaked and you’ll spend the rest of the shift damp and cold, unless Control allow you to change it and even then, how many trouser-changes are you going to get if the day turns out to be a RTC frenzy?

This one, thank goodness, for a 47 year-old male with a minor arm injury, required only an ambulance crew and there was one already on scene when I turned up. The man had been clipped by the car’s wing mirror and had been bruised as a result – no big deal. The hospital was a spit away, so I expect the crew simply walked him over to A&E. I wonder why he didn’t try that himself?

My last call of the day was to a 36 year-old who’d almost fainted at work and whose request not to have an ambulance called was ignored. When I got to her, she was sitting on her chair in an open plan office, smiling and looking sheepish about the whole thing. Thank God, she must have thought, only one yellow jacket. Unfortunately, she was in for a treat because I knew the crew had arrived on scene a few seconds behind me and were probably on their way up.

She told me that she had swooned off her chair after hearing the gory details of her friend’s recently fractured leg over the phone. I thought this was quite funny. She said that this was normal for her; she always faints or nearly faints when she sees or hears unpleasant things. I had two thoughts at this point: why did she listen to the gory details if she knew she’d pass out? And how long would she last in the ambulance service?

She was a nice person with a sense of humour about the whole thing - being in an open-plan space, there were plenty of people watching and I think she felt a little self-conscious. I didn’t, therefore, point out the fact that across the mezzanine, through large glass-windowed offices full of men in suits, an even bigger audience was considering buying tickets. I’ve never seen so many full-grown adults with better things to do, gawping at the possibility of something serious happening. Oh no, wait…yes I have…every weekend in Leicester Square.

Be safe.


Kieran said...

Great read! glad to say i'm back reading again :) and also glad to say my dreams of becoming a paramedic are still strong, if not stronger! been visiting university's none stop, pity my interview at northampton was "snowed off" though!

"it’s a shame her horse was higher than the pavement she should have been using because I would have spent time chatting to her about the stupidity of her actions."
great quote!! gotta love um!

and as for the last sentence about gawping office workers.. i could never do a desk job myself, i'm sure you'll agree with me on that one!


Tabitha said...

Us office workers have such mundane lives though, that's why we read your blog!

Anonymous said...

I recently purchased your book and thought it was a brilliant read, you certainly would have a good career as a writer if you weren't a paramedic. I am in the process of applying for a paramedic practice course at university, after reading your book I am more determined to succeed. You are an inspiration to all aspiring paramedics out there! I'm sure you would recommend the job as I get the sense you love your work. I'm just not sure if i could handle the fact that a certain persons life is in my hands, did you have the same reservations when you first started out as a paramedic and does the confidence grown with experince?
Sorry for the wanted career advice!!

Thanks, Matt
p.s I did try to email you but it would not let me use the link for some reason!

thanks again.