Night shift: Six calls; one declined, five by ambulance.
Stats: 1 Fall with ? dislocated hip; 1 Hernia; 1 Psychiatric problems; 2 eTOH.
The whole G20 debacle meant that all solo responders were taken off the road and placed on ambulances...yep, even the bikers lost their wheels. A cordon was placed around the City and all calls to that part of London were dealt with by in-situ resources because it was just too dangerous for us. Consider that; we are at risk from green and anti-capitalist protestors. Why? Not because we are rich or destroy the environment but because we portray the establishment. Anything in uniform it would seem, so the Scout movement better be afraid...
A man died of a heart attack on those streets amid trouble sparked by a few air-heads with issues and no solutions (I saw a poster declaring ‘ban money’ written on it). It didn’t help that a minority of arrogant and very, very stupid City workers allegedly waved money out of the windows to inflame the situation. So, the poor man died because there was a delay in getting medical aid to him (apparently). Plenty of people tried to help him and the police, I heard, were assaulted with bricks and debris as they attempted to get his body clear of the area.
We are now officially a lost and sad tribe. We don’t want the system we have but we have no alternative that’s any better...not a holistic solution at any rate. We know the problems that could be solved (like crime and punishment being out of step) but we do nothing to help ourselves. We are pigs in mire.
So, I’m on an ambulance and with a lovely crew mate that I have known for years but never worked with in all that time. We get on well, so the shift is pleasant.
A 46 year-old man (a large, heavy man) was lifting cartons of goods from one place to another when he stumbled and fell awkwardly. Now his hip is giving him pain (he heard it crack on the way down). His body had twisted, so it’s possible the joint came out of place, probably temporarily. We found him sitting on a chair, refusing to move and jumping out of his skin with pain every time I go near his injured leg. At one point I’d done nothing more than touch the fabric of his trousers when he cried out in an agony that simply couldn’t have been caused by me.
It took us a long time and a lot of entonox gas to move him into the ambulance. First of all, I had to wheel him out to the warehouse door using the office chair he was in, then a painful transfer onto the back of a railway buggy followed (he dragged himself onto the back seat in true slow motion). The buggy took him (and me) to the ambulance, where he was lifted onto the trolley bed, which my crew mate had made ready for him. He was very loud about his pain and it all seemed out of proportion with his big frame. Even his colleagues were shocked at his reaction.
When we got to A&E, he was quiet as a lamb – he even smiled a couple of times. Where had his pain gone?
As usual with ambulance work, there is always the possibility of a transfer and we got one to a south London hospital for a 4 year-old boy with a serious hernia. He was with his parents and it took us an hour to get him aboard, drive him to his new hospital (for an operation) and settle him in. All the way he played happily with his family and even though he had a painful problem, he didn’t complain once. I’m afraid I had to contrast his bravery with the last patient’s childishness; although I’m sure a few of you will still me for being judgmental about people’s pain. This wasn’t about thresholds; it was about dignity and behaviour.
The next patient – a methadone user - declined to go to hospital. He had a history of pericarditis and had suffered chest pain, provoking a 999 call, but now it was gone and he felt better. His ECG wasn’t super-normal but then it wouldn’t be. He declined despite my best efforts to persuade him to go, so he was left with his paperwork and a copy of the ECG.
Late night psychiatric calls are un-nerving and the next patient, a tall Somalian man with a history of paranoid schizophrenia, hung out of his hostel window shouting at us as we arrived on scene, making it all very cosy to start with. The call descriptor had stated that he was annoyed because people were laughing at him and that he’d had his hand burned by someone. He had a recent history of assault but the police refused to come and back us up on this one because they’d already been called five times today by him. I was hoping that he wouldn’t decide not to like us because the hostel staff didn’t look handy enough to help us out if he didn't.
At first he was angry – shouting at me all the time but then, when I agreed to take him to hospital (he had no illness or injury) after he’d threatened to kill himself if I didn’t, his demeanour changed and he smiled more and chatted too often.
At hospital, he continued his chatting (mostly to himself) as I booked him in. He got a cubicle and the freedom to wander in and out for cigarette breaks as and when he pleased. He had a loud, meandering voice that reminded me a lot of Bubbles Devere, the Little Britain character who spends her life at a private health club (if you are a fan, you’ll know who I mean).
A small, overweight 23 year-old girl with a skirt that was so short there was little point in wearing it, collapsed drunk on a Soho pavement and was rescued by passers-by who called an ambulance. She couldn’t remember her own name and sat in the back with us, desperately trying to recall it. Her date of birth proved to be even more elusive but she had no problem with her postcode, so she just repeated that over and over again whenever I asked her a question.
I sat her in the A&E Waiting area and she went to sleep. She was still there - fast asleep, when I took the next patient in.
It all ended with a 27 year-old man who was drunk outside a train station. He had been in a club with his friend and they had become separated. He’d wandered off and got mixed up with a stranger who’d offered him drugs, although he denied taking any. He’d been gone two hours, according to his friend, so it’s possible a lot more than looking at drugs had gone on.
He became emotional and said his drink may have been spiked...then he acted as if it had by complaining of abdominal pain and crying a lot. When we took him in to hospital, the A&E nurse wasn’t impressed at all and he was sent to the front to wait on a seat not too far from the overweight drunken short-skirted girl who was now in an alcoholic coma.