Friday 6 July 2012

Hydration therapy

"28 year old male, severely dehydrated"

Isn't summer great!? Beaches, sea, sand, ice cream and sun! Days in the park, evenings in a beer garden and holidays! The only problem with summer is that it has been and gone! Yep... remember those three hot days in early June? That was it! The big drought, the hosepipe ban, the sunburn and the change of wardrobe gone for another year. Normally with the 'summer' we experience a spike in heat related illnesses; sun stroke, heat exhaustion and even sunburn. Yes, people do call an ambulance for sunburn! Obviously, with the heat comes dehydration; when people don't drink and continue to lark about in the sun. You can imagine my surprise when I got this call in the pissing rain, a bit muggy but still, dehydration, at that age?! I tried not to judge; people can get dehydrated at any time but it isn't something people normally call an ambulance for, it's something we find during an examination and it is normally the elderly. Anyway, we headed off to the 'outside' location that we were given. The rain was pelting against the windscreen, the wipers could not wipe fast enough. We pulled up outside the address to find it was a newsagents. Outside, under the cover, was our patient. My initial thought was 'you're outside a shop, you're dehydrated, buy a bloody drink'! I kept that thought in my head, opened the side door to the ambulance and let him on.

"Hello there, what the problem today?"

"I'm really dehydrated"

"In what way?" (He didn't look dehydrated, his lips were not dry and pursed, nor was his skin dry)

"I'm just really really thirsty, it feels like really bad dehydration"

'Feels like really bad dehydration'?! What is that?! I'm no doctor, but this was the first time I had been in this line of questioning?! Has he been dehydrated many times before and know the difference better mild, bad and really bad?! It wasn't like pain that we can quantify and score. It wasn't if we could score the dehydration out of 10! Or was it?!

"When you say really bad, how bad are we talking on a scale of 0-10. 0 being perfectly hydrated and 10 being having a mouth full of sand?!"

"A 10"

"So just to clarify, it feels like your mouth is full of sand?"


"OK, have you been drinking plenty of water?"

"I've had some, but not much"

"Why not? If your mouth is dry, drinking water may help"

"Because I read that when you are dehydrated drinking water won't be enough, you need fluids and stuff"

*sigh* "Have you passed any water recently? Any problems with your waterworks?"

"I did a wee about half an hour ago"

"And what colour was it? Dark?"

"Nah it was really light, almost clear"

"To be honest, it doesn't sound like you are dehydrated, just thirsty. What makes you think you are dehydrated?"

"My flat is really hot inside"

What can I say? What can I do?! Seriously, thirsty is now a reason to call an ambulance?! What next? An itch someone can't reach? A mouth ulcer? Why can these questions not be asked over the phone?! I could keep asking questions but no one has the answers. There is no cure for stupid. Would education help? No! He wasn't born or schooled in this country. No one will ever say no to him because of the fear that on the one occasion they say that to someone, they will drop down dead and then a finger has to be pointed. At least if they send an ambulance and he drops down dead they can point the finger at us! And what can I say to him? Sure, I can lecture him but then face a possible complaint on my record. I don't want that, no one does. Instead, I just advise him what to do if he becomes thirsty again, get him to sign my paperwork and head off to satisfy someone's itch. Living the dream!


  1. My fav is when someone in control grows a pair and bats them off, but they keep ringing and eventually they cave in and send us. Then wait till we're just pulling into the road to tell us the family are upset with the lack of response and have been waiting nearly 2hrs!
    Even better when there's 5 cars on the drive and they live 2mins from the hospital ;0)

    1. You can only say no so much! You're right, eventually they get one!

  2. Muppet! I'd have had a great conversation with him on the phone! Sometime I wander what people would do if the got charged for an ambulance?

  3. Unbelievable... nuff sed

  4. Oh dear, what a muppet but at least he didn't insist on a trip to the hospital. Must have been tempting to offer him an IV just to be able to botch it a few times. Not very ethical but at least he might think twice next time ;o)

  5. I say no to requests like that...And then I say no again and again... eventually they get bored and stop calling... Been on first name terms with a few... we are growing nuts to say no but some will always slip through because of demand and also because some peeps know trigger words. Peeps dont like being told no though!! There is a risk in doing so, but its a risk I am confident to take.

    1. Yep! Its the trigger words, nothing you can do about it. Frustrating for all!

  6. I think you should be in charge Gem and show them what for!

  7. People know buzz words to get a response unfortunately!


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