Friday 13 July 2012


What is a typical day? What is a typical night? I suppose there is no 'typical' but I thought rather than write about one job, or list the jobs I did in a day, or even talk about how I was feeling at a particular time of day, or what my feelings were on a particular issue, I would attempt to blog a day of my life. Write the entire day from eyes open to eyes shut with everything in the middle. I chose the first night shift of a run of 4.

The following takes place between the hours of 7am and 10pm


Precisely 3 hours and 54 minutes after getting into bed, I'm awake again. I glare at my clock with utter disgust. Why am I awake so early before my night shift starts?! It's the same every time, I'm now going to be awake for at least 24 hours and that is not a happy thought. The day drifts by, most of it spent procrastinating and promising myself I will do tomorrow what I couldn't be bothered to do today. It's the same promise I make to myself everyday, yet I am forever lacking the motivation to do the simplest of tasks! Before I know it the impending night shift is looming and I have to start getting ready.


Shower, iron uniform, eat dinner and pack the leftovers away to eat in the middle of the night. This pre-night routine is all too familiar and I know that the middle of the night will come and I will not want to eat the leftovers. At 18:15 I get dressed and leave the house for the short drive to work.


I pull into the car park, switch off the engine and sit there, in my car for about 30 seconds. Do I really have to go and do this?! I enter the garage, I check my pigeon-hole, I sign in, I get my bags out of my locker and throw them on an ambulance. Time for the first coffee! No sign of a crew mate so I take my 'too hot to drink coffee' onto the ambulance and start checking it over. I check the response bags, cupboards, gases, make the bed, refold the blankets and start the paperwork. Still no sign of crew mate! I check the headlights, break lights, blue lights and tyres, then I sign my drugs out.


Crew mate arrives, I have never met them before, but I am unimpressed they have arrived so 'late'. OK, they were not late but it is poor ambulance etiquette. Everyone comes in early so as to get the vehicle ready for the imminent job the second your shift starts. Sure enough...


"38 year old female, 18/40 pregnant, abdo pain, bleeding PV"

This could go one of two ways, it could be just a bit of abdo pain and a trip to hospital or it could be horrific and a trip to hospital. Being the first job of the shift, most of the journey was consumed with me filling in various forms and getting the PRF started for the job we were on. We had a real struggle finding the address; it was a new build on a new road so the sat nav nor the map book was showing where it was. We called control and asked for them to get more location information. Eventually a teenager came running out of a side road up ahead waving frantically. He waved and beckoned until we had parked. He then came running over and told us to hurry as 'it's an emergency'. Emergency or not, we do not like being told to hurry up, though given the presenting complaint and his age, I let him off and followed behind.

We were ushered through to the bedroom where our patient was lying alone on the bed. She looked understandably worried and there was an ominous amount of blood on the sheets. She was 17+5 weeks pregnant and had suffered a sudden onset of abdominal pain which was coming and going. 17 weeks is sadly not considered a 'viable' pregnancy (there is that word again) so consequently this involves a trip to A & E for her, not maternity. Her OBs were fine and she wanted to walk, so after grabbing her bag we started moving to the ambulance. She stopped suddenly, bracing herself on the wall: 

"The pain is back, I feel like I need to push"

My crew mate ran off for the maternity pack while I ushered her into the bathroom. She sat on the edge of the bath, crying:

"I need to push"

She slid to the floor and pushed. Through groans of pain and floods of tears, and whilst holding my hand, she delivered.

I placed the foetus in one of our vomit bowls and wrapped the bowl in an incontinence pad. How horrible does that sound? It was all we have. I couldn't leave a 6 inch foetus on the floor, it just seemed like the right thing to do. We got the trolley bed inside the house and got the Mum onto it. She answered my questions with nodding and shaking her head. She was consumed with grief. I didn't know what to say. We drove to hospital; myself on one chair, her on the bed and the small bowl on the chair next to me. We arrived at A & E, transferred her over and I wandered off to book her in. My crew mate cleaned the bed, made the bed and made the coffees. 

It is these jobs I struggle with; it is one of the sights I struggle to get out of my head, and the rush of negative emotions are hard to deal with. Working with someone you have never met before makes it harder to talk though these jobs, instead it just sits with you for the rest of the shift. Sadly, I can't dwell; time to press the button for the next job. My 15 minutes are up.


"34 year old male, thinks he is about to have a fit"

We get quite a lot of these jobs. Epileptic patients often know when they are going to have a seizure and call us first. More often than not there is no seizure and we just take them to hospital; occasionally there is a seizure. Today, there was no epilepsy! We pulled up outside the address to the welcome sight of the FRU! Inside the building the medic on scene came and met us in the corridor.

"This is just plain weird. He's crying at the moment but doesn't know why. He says he thinks he has epilepsy and diabetes but has never had a seizure or seen a GP about it. He also says he had a heart attack three weeks ago but has no medication. There are clearly some mental health problems but he says he has amnesia. It's all a bit odd to be honest"

We entered the flat, the smell of alcohol hit us. Our patient was lying on the bed, kind of crying but not. He was very hard to engage with and just reeled of symptom after symptom. He had a headache, nausea, back pain, chest pain, abdo pain, leg pain and shortness of breath. In fact, he had everything we asked him about from urinary symptoms to photophobia. His pain was 10/10 yet when we suggested coming to the ambulance he just got up and walked with no obvious discomfort or reduced mobility. Once on the ambulance there was no change; he declined any pain relief and didn't want an ECG. It transpired he had already had an ambulance earlier in the day. He had been taken to hospital and had self-discharged from the waiting room after an hour of waiting. I don't know what he expected would be different this time around, but all we could do was convey and hope he stayed.

At the hospital a handover was given to the nurse who yet again, sent him to the waiting room. I booked him in and returned to the cab. Within 5 minutes, he emerged from the main entrance of the hospital and wandered off up the road. Another worthwhile use of an ambulance. It's so frustrating to see. There is nothing you can do or say. I know the hospital are busy, but surely a guy who has already absconded and who is clearly suffering mental health problems should be seen before being chucked back to the waiting room. I have no doubt he'll be back in another ambulance very soon. Anyway, no time to worry about the inevitable drain on resources. More lives to save......


  1. "To be continued" Nooooo!!
    Great writing ella, hope you don't leave us waiting too long.

  2. Brilliant read. Really good writing.

  3. Even though I do the same job, nigh on same routine, same feelings, I'm still hanging on your every word!

  4. ruddy hurry up!!!

  5. I absolutely love your blog - can't wait for tomorrow!

    1. Thank you! It's now up! You'll have to wait for the final instalment tomorrow now to!


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