Monday, 1 March 2010


Night shift: Six calls; one cancelled on scene; one left at home; two by car; two by ambulance.

Stats: 1 abdominal pain; 2 back injuries; 1 eTOH; 1 Hyperglycaemic.

I was asked to run to a chest pain but got cancelled on scene as the ambulance arrived, so that I could go in the opposite direction for three miles to attend a woman with abdominal pain. The 34 year-old was with staff when I arrived and she had been suffering an acute ‘sharp’ pain for two hours prior to asking for help. I gave her entonox and got her into the car after checking her medical history (or lack of it) and observations. When I got to A&E it was packed. Every bed was taken up and people queued outside the Majors Department to be seen. In Reception it was just a bad, with a 4-hour wait to see a doctor, if you were lucky.

Then off to see a 5 year-old boy and tell his parents that he didn’t need an ambulance. He’d slipped between a sofa and the wall and landed (not very hard) on the metal end of a set of barbells. He had an insignificant scratch on his lower back and when tested, could flex, bend and move his body properly without pain or guarding. This was a typical example of over-reactive parenting. The tests I did were simple and proved a point – anyone can do them and they are obvious. Look at what happened. Consider what kind of injury could be caused, or not. Test for dysfunction, extreme pain or immobility. In doubt? Call us out. Seemple... as the Meerkat says.

Another soldier call and this time he’d fallen down steps at an underground station. The 19 year-old tripped and toppled, landing hard on his back. He was with police and staff when I arrived and it took 10mg of morphine to deal with the pain before I could move him, with the help of a crew. He was in an awkward position but the move was done slowly and carefully without the need of a scoop or board, which would have added to the nightmare. His injury was mostly muscular and he probably jarred the Sciatic nerve when he hit the hard steps, so I’m sure he will be on his feet and soldiering again very soon.

The drunks of the town have yet to leave us alone, even on a Monday morning they are turning up in police stations. A 22 year-old man sat in the caged entrance to custody with police officers propping him up on a chair as he vomited almost continuously and lolled around muttering stupidity to nobody in particular. He was a large man and I’m told he had to be carried from the police van to this spot. He wasn’t being arrested but he needed to go to hospital because his drinking binge had poisoned him. He got a yellow bag around his neck to vomit in (a Booze Bus invention) and an ambulance to transport him – there was no way he was getting in the car.

I got a break and the system was shut down as calls went ‘manual’ for a few hours. During that time it seemed reasonably quiet but I began to feel quite unwell as the hours passed by and when my next call came in I was feeling very ill. This is not the job to have when you are sick yourself, so my 39 year-old diabetic who’d asked a gang of builders on an early-morning renovation to call an ambulance for him because he was ‘feeling cold’ and had ‘diabetic problems’ got the best of the professional attention I could summon, considering that I probably felt worse than he did.

I had two hours to go and was prepared to see the shift through, as long as I wasn’t exposed to anything that could set my delicate system off (like my earlier vomiting drunk). I took the patient to hospital in the car – he had a BM of 23. By the time I booked him in the nurses were asking if I’d like to book myself in too because I was looking very pale. Needless to say I got myself off home as soon as possible before I dragged the profession into the gutter.

Be safe.


Anonymous said...

hope you are feeling better. Its no fun being ill.

Tuppence said...

Hope you feel better soon Stuart.

Anonymous said...

Quite right Dani G

Susie said...

Hope you are feeling better by now.

Matt M said...

Paramedic, heal thyself!

Just kidding. Take good care, and I hope that you have not caught something off of the sick people you deal with.

Anonymous said...

Hope your feeling better soon. Never nice feeling ill on shift.

Anonymous said...

Hope you are better.

Best wishes,

Lynne said...

Yeah, hope you are feeling better by now!

Anonymous said...

Hi there

first of all: best wishes, hope you are feeling better :-)

Then: I'd like to know what happened to your first patient (abdo pain) when you got her to A&E as you said you only had her on Entonox and the department was full/busy. Did she get a cubicle or did she have to go to the waiting area? If so without any pain relief??
Just asking cos I was admitted to hospital with lower abdo pain myself and had to wait in the waiting room without any pain relief for THREE hours. I ended up having an operation and stayed in hospital for nine days. I really wish someone had recognized my condition earlier and I was too "nice" to say anything when I saw how busy they were ... I know abdo pain is not priority but I had a fewer and a very low BP and I was in agony. (I didn't go in via ambulance though)


Xf said...


The patient went to a cubicle and got continued pain relief.

Your low BP would have made the abdo pain more of a priority... but you didn't go by ambulance so would have to wait for assessment. Maybe if people stopped abusing the system, there'd be more time for people like you.

Fiz said...

I hope you are better now, Xf. xxx

Tom said...

I sincerely hope you are recovering well.

Like you, I have been taken ill on shift, and struggling through was a nightmare.

The worst occasion was working new years day on an early turn. Normaly I would work Christian holiday shifts, as I was jewish, and would cover for my mates. However, on this occasion, a long standing arrangement with a friend, which saw me cover his dys shift resulted in an invitation to a New Years party.

Big mistake, as my wife and I left the little uns at home with Gran and Granpa, we whooped it up til the early hours, and frankly turning my heels in the next morning at 0700 hrs, I had more in common with a corpse than a front line ambulance worker.

Needless to say the shift went from bad to appalling when it became apparent that compared to my crewmate I was the picture of health.

Never again...

Anonymous said...

Is someone with a BM of 23 really that ill? I know 23 is way too high (i'm diabetic, but have never been above 15 and didn't feel that bad then. Just darn thirsty) but is 23 really ambulance calling level? Or do severe symptoms of hyperglycemia kick in at different levels in different people? Would a type 1 feel it more than a type 2?
Just interested.

Xf said...


Generally speaking, no, they are not that ill but I guess one diabetic feels differently about than another.

Anonymous said...

Thanks.... Mine is very well controlled (I view it as my responsibility to make sure it is, not the NHS's to mop up)but I know not everyone can control as well as I do.

Anonymous said...

Thanks.... Mine is very well controlled (I view it as my responsibility to make sure it is, not the NHS's to mop up)but I know not everyone can control as well as I do. Makes me cross that some don't even seem to try and almost relish the title "diabetic"!