Friday, 27 March 2009

The fall guy

Day shift: Seven calls; six taken by car, one by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Unwell person; 1 Panic attack; 4 head injuries; 1 Cardiac arrest.

A 34 year-old woman felt unwell at an underground station but she had no medical history. She was cold and had numb hands – she’d almost fainted too. Now she was recovering, apart from the numbness, so I took her in the car to hospital, where I doubt anything of significance will be diagnosed.

Having a large family at a young age is bound to be stressful – a call to a 28 year-old woman who was having a panic attack took me to a flat in which three children were running around and another two were somewhere in the area but too young to be noticeable. The mother was slumped on the sofa as her boyfriend attempted to keep a rein on the family Von Trapp as they shouted, screamed, cried and noisily stomped about.

I could see this lady’s depression without diagnosing it. She would speak and cry intermittently, often repeating the phrase ‘but I’m alright, really’. If I touched her hand, even to take her pulse, she’d weep. She was clearly unable to cope with her present situation, so I convinced her to go to hospital with me – even if all she got was peace and quiet it would help, I thought.

The flat was bare-floored and the stairwell was open, so the toddlers could toddle right on over them if they wished. I think her state of mind left the children vulnerable but I was going to leave that to the judgment of the doctor.

Falls seem to be the theme this week. I went to the aid of a 68 year-old man who fell at a train station, cutting his forehead open. He wasn’t knocked out and had no other injury, so I took him to A&E for the benefit of a few stitches.

I overheard a call on the radio in which five police officers were trapped inside their vehicle after a RTC involving another car. It sounded serious and a lot of resources were sent, including some that had turned up without invitation. As soon as a job like that is GB’d, you can bet the green-mobile button will be pushed on dozens of vehicles.

My next fall was a 68 year-old woman who’d tripped on the pavement and smashed her nose and forehead on the concrete as she landed. Her husband was with her and I travelled three miles to get to them, as they sat on a wooden chair by some skips in the road. The lady was a little distressed but her bleeding was controlled and a dressing wasn’t required. I took them both to hospital across the river. Obviously I used the bridge.

Then a call for a collapsed woman in a large toy store came through as I sat on stand-by. It was cancelled then re-sent as a Red1 cardiac arrest. I got on scene to find a MRU colleague and another FRU paramedic working on a woman who was now breathing for herself, albeit agonally. She’d arrested and been shocked back to life after a couple of customers (who happened to be nurses) had initiated CPR. This action had saved the woman’s life without doubt but as I assisted the medics and another crew appeared to take her away, I wondered where the first aider for the store was. Nobody had created a corridor through the mass of customers so that the trolley and equipment could be moved and it was business as usual outside as a clown (or some sort of dressed up character) blew bubbles into the air.

When the poor woman was taken to the ambulance, not only did the crew have to fight their way out the door but bubbles landed on top of her as she was taken away. When they arrived at hospital (I had gone in the car because the MRU paramedic would need to go back to his bike) a nurse opened the back doors of the ambulance and bubbles floated out into the air as the critical patient was brought out!

If this had been my mother (her daughter was with her and witnessed everything) I would have been livid at the indignity of it all.

Another head injury and this time the man just wasn’t looking where he was going, although I have a feeling he wanted to use his minor wound as an excuse to sue McDonald’s. The 40 year-old was walking up the stairs and avoided the cleaner, who was at the top, by moving to his right a little. A barrier, secured at the end with foam and striped tape to warn people of its existence, made contact with the top of his head and the only way that could have happened is if he had been watching his feet instead of where he was going (in my opinion). As if to prove my theory, on the way to the car I had to warn him several times to look up as he bumped into people and almost walked straight into a post.

Two helpful young women waited with a 79 year-old woman who’d tripped outside a shop and fallen, cutting her forehead. It was a very minor injury but the patient was unable to walk properly as the result of a knee problem, so she stayed where she landed until I arrived.

I helped her to the car and took her to hospital, after thanking the ladies who had taken the time to care for her as the security people in the shop simply stared out vacantly.

Be safe.

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