Friday, 12 June 2009

The Great Pretenders

Night shift: Thirteen calls; two assisted-only; one long dead at scene; one conveyed in the car; one with an unknown outcome and the rest by ambulance.

Stats: 2 ? EP Fit; 3 eTOH; 2 RTC; 1 Unwell adult; 2 Drug o/d; 1 Vomiting; 1 Asleep; 1 Alleged rape.

A medical student (Lottie) joined me tonight, so I had company and a witness to the ridiculous nature of this job at weekends. She’s intelligent, shy and quiet but not scared of anything that was thrown at her tonight – luckily that’s one of the important qualities she needs if she’s to make it in medicine.

The first call to a 6 year-old boy who was ‘unconscious’ took us to a very nice (and large) house in a more affluent part of the town. The boy was in his father’s lap and I couldn’t decide which one I should give more attention to – the boy or dad because both looked a bit shaken up (especially dad). The boy had been at the dinner table when he suddenly cried out ‘Oh no, oh no, oh no!’ according to his mum. Then he fell down and fitted for a short time before recovering as if nothing had happened.

It sounded like he’d had an epileptic seizure but that could be decided when he got to hospital. He’d wet himself during the process but seemed blissfully unaware of that fact as he sat soaking his father’s lap.

The crew arrived as a confused and highly emotional argument broke out between man and wife about the son going to get changed into something drier. The stress of the situation had clearly pressed hard on this relationship.

A drunken man fell down the steps of a very posh restaurant and cut his head open. The laceration would need closing but the man didn’t regard his injury as bothersome at all – he shrugged a lot. He clearly wasn’t all there (in terms of lucidity of mind) and that would be the fault of the large amount of alcohol in his blood. Walking down steep steps would have been a real challenge in this state and so I respectfully suggest that the restaurant installs special pulleys and lifts for such customers to avoid future embarrassment.

I asked for a free meal and was offered one if I cared to return in the future. I decided not to take them up on the offer because I was trying my luck and didn’t expect to be taken up on the request. Anyway, I don't have a fancy enough suit at home.

Sometimes old calls are sent to us when they have long been dealt with. A ‘glitch’ in the system they say. If you don’t look closely at the origin time, you can get caught out but who among us has the time to keep looking at that? So, I proceeded with haste to a RTC that had the words ‘cardiac arrest’ stuck on the descriptor line. The roads were blocked off (to be expected) and I was waved in through the police tape (also to be expected). Then I was greeted by the sight of a forensic tent in the middle of the road and a windmilling police officer who looked startled at the appearance of my car (not expected at all).

‘I was sent this call’ I bleated as I slowly realised what was going on and clocked the origin time (an hour ago).

‘Right, well, they’ve gone about an hour ago. You’re not needed here’, the annoyed officer said. ‘When you leave, can you please drive slowly and carefully, without too much steering?’

So, I had my car tuck it’s tail in and we carried out the world’s slowest and most carefully manoeuvred three-point, before dragging our sorry arses out of a potentially ruined forensic area. Luckily, when I initially arrived, I didn’t put on a spectacular skidding display as I stopped. I normally do that of course and not only for serious accidents; I’ll screech to a halt for abdo pain and hiccups. If you are a service driving instructor, don’t listen to a word of that – I’m lying.

Then I met a very pleasant Scotsman who was lying on the floor of his little flat after collapsing in the kitchen. He’d crawled out from under everything that had fallen on top of him (including an ironing board) and made his way a few feet to relative safety. He felt very weak and unwell.

He told me he was a retired ear, nose and throat specialist, which I found interesting because he was having problems hearing me. As soft classical music played in the background, I managed to sit him up and he explained that he’d been suffering from ‘Flu for a while and now he felt ‘knocked out’ by it. He was 94 years-old, so I wasn’t at all surprised. His age made him vulnerable of course but I detected a stoical and strong man underneath the misery.

A self-proclaimed epileptic man approached police in Leicester Square and told them he was ‘having a fit’ but he wasn’t. He claimed that he’d been struck down by a ‘petit mal’ attack and that he couldn’t remember what happened. ‘One minute I was over there and the next I was here’, he said. I was neither here nor there with a diagnosis, especially when he became overly sensitive to the flashing blue lights of the ambulance when it arrived. He may well have had some kind of event but his dramatic manner made me suspect otherwise.

Off to Oxford Street and again to the aid of a couple of PCSO’s who’d been left in charge of a woman with obvious mental health issues. She claimed to have taken 28 aspirins (that’s 8.4g) and that she didn’t want to live anymore (she had a less than 2% chance of topping herself like this). I asked her how long ago she’d taken them and she was vague but suggested possibly hours ago. I doubted her story and she refused to speak to me if the PCSO’s were near enough to hear. In fact, she feigned a collapse on me and decided not to go the whole way and just to prop herself up on my body, with her head lolling over my shoulder. We looked like an oddly-married couple for a minute or two and I was fairly anxious to dispel any rumours that may start about me, among the public and the crew, who were just arriving. Lottie didn’t mind at all. She thought it was hilarious. As long as I am keeping at least one person happy, I don’t mind being a trying-to-faint-but-not-quite-sure -how-to human support.

A retching 47 year-old who’d called her problem in as ‘vomiting blood’ wasn’t producing much in the way of anything, let alone red blobs. She was in a hotel room with her ‘friend’ and he was sure she was in trouble. She had been drinking a lot and its possible (I know this is the cynic in me but bear with me), just possible that the booze had something (or everything) to do with it. I hooked her up and gave her something to stop her being sick, then the crew was free to wheel her out to the ambulance. She retched violently and it looked all for show.

It wasn’t long before our next call to a drunken person who was vomiting but she at least had the honesty to admit she was wasted. The 25 year-old Italian woman was slumped on the pavement in a decent pool of watery vomit, guarded by two PCSO’s and a few of her boisterous friends. I won’t be too unkind here because they were all lovely people and gave me no trouble. Their friend was over the walking/talking limit and they knew it; no excuses, no debate.

Unfortunately, a serious RTC not far away had drawn all of the immediate resources out of my area and so I was left to connect her to fluids and hope they did their job, so that she’d be fit enough to go home. It only took ten minutes for her to come round and start being human again – her friends were excited about this and so too were the PCSO’s, who’d been held up on this call for about an hour. One of them was playing the part of my drip stand (Lottie offered and was jealously denied the opportunity), so his arm was about to give up if the Italian woman didn’t play ball.

I got a big smile when her eyes opened – probably because she was seeing someone else. She crawled and clawed her way up a few times, only to fall back down to the sound of disappointment all around. She only snapped out of it when I became a little firmer about what she needed to do – sober up, stand up and go home. A child could do it. Well, a drunken child (and let’s face it, that prospect isn’t too far off the horizon).

In the end, after one more dramatic puking feat, she was man-handled to a standing position, read the riot act and dragged off to the nearest willing taxi. Her friends did that, not me.

Outside a club in Piccadilly, another drunken 25 year-old woman staggered in front of a car and got her foot clipped as she collided with a wheel at a reasonably slow speed but because everything is in slow motion when you are drunk, she behaved as if she’d been trampled on by a herd of elephants – at a fairly rapid speed. There was a tiny little scratch on her foot, that’s all. She was collared and boarded because that’s the way we do things around here. Lots of people came up to see if she was okay and I’m not sure if any of them were her friends because they all slipped away when they saw that she wasn’t dead. So, yeah, they must have been her friends.

There was no respite and the next call invited me to Soho, where yet another 25 year-old, this time a male, was behaving erratically after taking alcohol, GHB and possibly speed. He was really wired and the risk of getting thumped accidently, incidentally or deliberately hung heavy in the early morning air. His half-naked (waist up) mate stood by him, accepting that he’d overdone it with something but not sure what that something might be. This happens a lot when drugs are involved. Nobody minds telling you that their mate is drunk but they have a problem spilling the beans when it comes to magic ones.

So, I left him to the crew when they turned up a few minutes later. I would have got nothing from him anyway; obs were unlikely until he’d come down to earth. His boyfriend showed up and asked where he'd gone, so we sat in the car after he'd gone in the general direction of my verbal directions, wondering if there was trouble afoot at A&E. His half-naked 'friend' had gone to hospital with him. There would be a bitch-fight.

In the wee small hours, I was asked to go to the aid of a 50 year-oldish Jamaican man who was high and drunk in a callbox. He had the company of two PCSO’s (they earned their money tonight) and I was tasked with the job of dispelling any rumour that he had chest pain because that’s what he claimed on the phone – obviously decided upon when his weaker story of neck pain and the further, weaker story of head pain didn’t bring about an immediate response from the non-existent ambulances.

He had no pain except in his leg in fact and I decided to take him to hospital myself, provided he promised not to throw up or attack us in the car. Lottie helped out with the obs and I rescued her from his rambling chatter because somehow she couldn’t translate it. I decided to turn it into Glaswegian and managed to get two words from him that I recognised - ‘New York’, he said after a long sentence of randomly strung words. Did you think I meant another two words? Shame on you!

He talked to himself and me and Lottie all the way to hospital, where he was deposited in a chair in reception for the night. He wore a little hat and I thought it would paint a pretty picture to place him so that his head lolled in the opposite direction to another hat-wearing, slumbering drunk, whose head just happened to be lolling towards his. It looked cute and totally in place with the ambiance of the A&E waiting room.

A Red call for two men ‘unconscious’ outside a train station came in as the light spread over the horizon. I found only one person lying on the ground; the other had either been a mirage or had skulked off on unconscious legs that could miraculously still walk. I wish his erstwhile friend could walk too because I had the unsavoury job of proving to the rail staff present that he was alive and drunk. I pulled him to his feet and he didn’t like me one bit. I was shown an aggressive finger and for a moment I thought he was going to use his lanky 6ft frame to attack me. I would stand my ground and step aside at just the right moment. He would then become a parody nightmare as he plummeted to the pavement without a hand to stop him in time.

Luckily he was too drunk to fight and too off-balance to control the direction in which his anger was directed. We all got the finger eventually; he kind of showed it around. I even saw him raise it like a football trophy to the passengers who were waiting for the bus. He’d get on with them and probably generate another 999 call somewhere in North London. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t get further than the street he lived on if he didn’t fall asleep on the bus because, despite trying to hand him his door keys mid-finger display, he declined my offer and they were thrown back onto the ground.

The last call of the night produced a police job and not one requiring an ambulance immediately, although two showed up and another FRU rolled onto the scene as I prepared to leave.

A young man windmilled us as we approached and told me that a girl had been raped by a man who’d just run off. She was still in her home in bed apparently. I called for police assistance and stayed where I was. The alleged attacker returned (as I thought he might) and started to threaten the man who’d made the complaint. Then he bolted back into the building where the girl was hiding.

I left just as police arrived - the other crews would be able to handle whatever came out of this confusing situation. I was going home. So was Lottie. To her own home, obviously.

Be safe.

1 comment:

Dominic Wilson said...

Wow, alot of "shouts" for one shift!

Surprising to see the amount of alcohol-related incidents you get called to, a sad fact :(

Keep up the great work,