Saturday, 2 October 2010

The final countdown - part one

And I thought my job was tricky!

I’ve had a bit of a break so that I can re-charge and write more of the book, which is 4/5ths complete now, thank goodness! Harry’s first birthday and his first toddling steps have also taken up a lot of time as I try to give my family as much attention as I do my work. The Mr Tonsilpus thing is still causing a lot of interest but I’ve been unable to get all of the parts together; website, blog, photo gallery, etc, that I need to make it more than just a fleeting exercise, so I’m trying to get time for that too.

Meanwhile, I am on one of the two last shifts that I will be doing as a frontline paramedic for a while; I’ve applied for, and succeeded in getting, a secondment on the Clinical Support Desk, on which I often do overtime shifts. It’ll be for six months but I will be reviewing my professional situation during this time and may well make a change happen so that I can get back to enjoying my job, instead of, well, whatever it is I’m feeling about it at the moment.

I’ll still be writing but not necessarily reporting the day to day crises of being a solo paramedic; I need a hiatus from that too. Medicine is still my option but I was unsuccessful this year – the graduate course is highly competitive... but there are other branches I can climb along in my academic and professional life – for the moment, its nose to grindstone though.

So, today’s busy set of calls included a 14 year-old girl who fell and said she couldn’t move or feel her leg. She’d slipped on water at home and come crashing down on the kitchen floor. She was a very large young lady and I wasn’t going to attempt to lift her myself, so I asked for a crew. In any case, if she had an injury to look at, it would be better if there were a few of us, including a female member of staff on scene. Mum and step-dad were there but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable prodding her thigh to see if it hurt. Personally, I don’t think she had much wrong with her leg – it was probably just bruised from the impact. She went out in a chair just in case.

An American couple, both retired scientists, sat in my car on the way to hospital after the husband began to feel ill, claiming that his blood pressure was too low. He had a history of Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation and a pacemaker had been fitted to solve any erratic heartbeat that was produced as a result. But he’d gone to the trouble of getting a blood pressure meter so that he could check his BP himself. The meter was giving him strangely low readings – so low that he wouldn’t be conscious – and so he dialled 999.

Admittedly, his blood pressure was up and down but I think that had more to do with his pacemaker batteries than anything else; his pulse was very irregular. He was stable, with a normal BP reading when I checked it, so he went by car.

During our conversation, I discovered that they were both genetic engineers and had pioneered a piece of DNA analysis equipment that was used worldwide before new technology changed things and they sold their company off for retirement.

A very bad sprain, possible fracture/dislocation next when a sprightly 84 year-old slipped and fell down steps awkwardly. She sat next to a woman I took to be her sister but it was her daughter – what I mean is, she looked no older than her daughter... hmmm, maybe that’s not right either. Whatever way I say it, it won’t sound like a compliment, right?

Anyway, she was very upbeat about her ankle and laughed with me until the ambulance arrived to take her to hospital. Some people just don’t let things like this get them down and yet we are fighting a tide of timewasters and minor illnesses all the time. It must be in the breeding.

At an underground station, a 69 year-old man stumbled (drunkenly) and fell on the platform, landing on his left arm, breaking the Humerus. This is a painful injury and not without its complications but the man couldn’t feel much, due to the level of alcohol in his bloodstream. ‘I may have a had a little bit to drink, I admit,’ he said to me.

I put his arm in a sling as his two friends watched and laughed. They were all Northerners from ‘oop’ there somewhere (I have a cheek to talk), so nothing was taken seriously. Until, that is, they left to go and see their show on The Strand and I took the injured man to my car. The pain in his arm was increasing, so he got a little entonox but nothing more. Morphine would probably have done a better job but he was getting none of that. Entonox and booze was enough.

In a squalid little flat on the roof of an equally squalid building, I found a crew attending a 74 year-old man whose friend had called them because he was concerned about the man’s condition. He had been diagnosed as having an Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (AAA) and ‘wasn’t alert’. I was asked to back the crew up in case something drastic happened – a ruptured 'triple A' will kill instantly.

Inside the place, the man was lying on his filthy bed and his smoking mate was fussing about him - he’d locked the door when I got inside and I don’t like it when people do that, so I asked him to go and unlock it again, which he did, but only after accidentally stubbing his lit cigarette into my arm. ‘Oops! Sorry Guv,’ he said. Indeed, I thought as I patted down the pain.

The man on the bed wasn’t interested in getting help and refused again and again to go to hospital. I’d had a very careful feel around his abdomen and found the aneurysm, just under his skinny, neglected frame. According to his notes, it was small and detected by scan – now it was almost visible from outside his body and that wasn’t good. He really had to be in hospital but the best we could do for him was offer him a GP visit if he insisted on refusing our taxi.

This left the crew free to deal with one of two calls that had come in while we were wasting time arguing with the man about his health; both calls were queued and waiting for an ambulance. This is what happens when we are called out to people who don’t want us or waste our time. Somebody else will always suffer.

The novel will be finished soon but ‘101 dumb emergency calls’ should be completed before that – if you want a copy and wish to pre-order it for Christmas, then send me an email and I will get them signed and sent out to you when they are printed. Obviously, if only five of you want one, they’ll never be printed J

Be safe. 

No comments: