Thursday, 13 August 2009


Day shift: Four calls; two by car and two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Faint; 1 Fall; 1 DIB; 1 Etoh.

The fainter was a 28 year-old female who was also 13 weeks pregnant. She’d been standing on the tube train (thanks for giving up your seat for her people) when she began to lose her balance. The Portuguese woman wasn’t so far along in pregnancy that her blood pressure should be affected adversely but she would have felt the effect of gravity when standing for a while in a hot, crowded train. I took her to A&E in the car.

A dementia patient in a care home waited for ages for an ambulance but was such a low priority that the imminent arrival of a fully loaded emergency vehicle was unlikely, so I was asked to go and check him out. The 84 year-old Irishman had fallen a few times in the night and this was unusual for him, according to the staff on scene. He sat on a chair in the lounge and offered me his bank card for some reason only he knew about. I respectfully declined the offer and carried out my obs; I could see that he wasn’t aware of what was going on.

He was able to stand and walk and the ambulance wouldn’t be with him for at least another hour, so I opted to take him myself. His initial confusion was replaced with some clarity as he was taken to the car, so at least I wasn’t going to be transporting a potentially loaded gun.

The real emergency of the day was a call to a park for a 1 year-old boy with croup and breathing problems. His barking cough gave away his disease from a distance but he was floppy in his mother’s arms and his skin had begun to go grey. An ambulance pulled up as I carried out obs and got some oxygen over his face. His temperature was 39c and his worried mum needed eye contact from me constantly so that she could indentify confidence that all was well. As far as I was concerned, the boy needed to go to hospital very quickly, so the arrival of the ambulance was a relief because driving him in the car was going to be a difficult clinical decision to make. The oxygen had brought him back a little and he was more alert, so I carried him to the crew and they wasted no time in getting him on board with mum in tow.

I ended the shift with a 60 year-old man who’d ‘collapsed’ through drink at a bus station. He’d had a fight with his girlfriend and was a bit aggressive. The crew was already on scene when I pulled up for this ‘emergency’ and he was being attended to but I stuck around in case I was needed. I wasn’t but it gave the guy an excuse to become even more annoying as he refused to go to hospital and then, when the crew kindly offered to return him to his hostel, he hurled abuse at them. Sometimes being nice to people like that is just pointless.

Be safe.


stuart said...

I'd quite happily give my seat up to someone who was obviously pregnant, or elderly.

Offering my seat so someone not much older than I am will either come across as being a tad creepy, and asking if she was actually pregnant and not just a little chubby is definitely not territory I want to enter

Major said...

He may not be that demented -- offering you his bank card indicates that he is oriented to the financial state of the NHS (if not to person, place or time)

brokenangel said...

Ouch makes you wonder whats happened to humanity when not even pregnant woman get any respect

Fee said...

Croup's a scary thing. My youngest had it once, and even as an experienced mum it frightened the life out of me. After a visit to the GP - and some really sound advice - we got through without needing to call 999. We had clear instructions to call an ambulance if she deteriorated, but the "steam tent" we created made a huge difference.

Tom said...

I was told by an attending doctor, to take our very young patient into the shower in an effort to treat croup.

Apparently the steam helped, though why I am at a loss to say. The GP however, joined me and had time to assess and care for his patient.

Clearly not the case today then..

Anonymous said...

I always give up my seat on public transport to pregnant women. In fairness though it is sometimes very difficult if a woman is only 13 weeks pregnant to tell this. In am a middle aged woman and at times I haven't been able to tell if a woman is fat or pregnant. As I was older than her, it would be strange for me to offer a seat to a younger slightly fat woman. And I am sure she would be very offended if I thought she was pregnant and she wasn't.

Xf said...


Yep...Ive been caught out that way myself! I think generally, it is difficult and men for example, wont know if they are going to be knocked back just for offering these days. Shame though, cos its a nice gesture. Even for fat people.

Xf said...


Steam is of some benefit because it may assist in opening narrowed airways.

As for the doctor being there, well, those were the days...

Anonymous said...

I'm from the USA. When you say "car", does that mean that they first have a "car" come to assess the situation prior to calling an ambulance?

I've read a few of you're posts, quite interesting, but I still don't get a clear grasp of the "car" thing.

Some of your stories really scare me though as far as the US going on socialized health care.

Xf said...


Yes, a car - a Fast Response Unit (FRU) as in the photo above. Sometimes an ambulance just isn't required.

Xf said...


Yes, a car - a Fast Response Unit (FRU) as in the photo above. Sometimes an ambulance just isn't required.

Anonymous said...

I've had someone stand up for me when I wasn't pregnant (just post-baby tummy)! I was mortified but appreciated the nice gesuture so said thanks and sat down rather than embarass the person kindly giving up their seat.

But I've been in the pregnant/fat dilemma many times before on the tube. That's why those 'Baby on board' badges were such a good idea although can't imagine ever wearing one!

Anonymous said...

Anon from US:

Having lived in the US for 4 years and recently coming back to the UK, I would say you have far far more to fear with the current US health system than with socialised health care (not that I can ever see the US going for something like the NHS anyway).

In the UK you don't stay in a job because you're scared of losing health insurance, you don't worry about going bankrupt paying medical bills (the no. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy in the US), you don't fight with insurance companies about coverage and you don't have millions of uninsured turning to emergency care becasue that's the only care they're entitled to.

The NHS is far far from perfect - but I'd NEVER swap it for the current system in the US (I have my eye on France!). The UK spends less than $3,000 per capita pa, the US $7,000 - and you still have 50 million uninsured!!