Saturday, 25 May 2013

24 - Season 2: Episode 3


The following takes place between the hours of 12:18pm and 3:50pm


"56 year old female, back pain, not alert"

Really?! The old 'not alert' has upgraded this job to one suitable for a car apparently! Also, the back pain
in a certain age is interpreted as possible chest pain, but still, I wasn't impressed with having to go. Mainly because I'd just convinced myself I was about to eat! Foolish! The job was just round the corner so I headed round, without even needing to turn the lights on! I pressed 'on scene' just as the call was downgraded to a low priority! Dammit! Had I have been a bit slower I would have been cancelled!

I was met at the door by the patients daughter who beckoned me in. They were a Somali family and only the daughter spoke English, but she spoke very well so there was no problem translating. I assessed the patient, did her ECG and within 20 minutes I'd done everything I could and found that she had a simple case of 'hurty back'. Despite my best efforts to convince them that hospital wasn't necessary, she wanted to go and get checked over. That meant a looooong semi-awkward wait for an ambulance!

I think the difference in cultures means that when a family emigrate from a country like Somalia, where the concept of pre-hospital care doesn't exist, expectations of what to do are different. They have no alternative care pathways, visiting GPs or chemists with drugs to treat most menial problems. In their country, if you are ill, you go to hospital, it's that simple. The idea of being 'ill', being seen by an ambulance and NOT going to hospital seemed foreign to them. I suppose that's where education via the GP would come in handy!

The wait for an ambulance really did become awkward! There were plenty of ominous silences to make me cringe, occasionally interrupted by my apologies for the delay! There is only so much you can talk about, to a group of Somali women who don't speak English! Eventually the crew arrived and I was able to make a quite getaway!


I made myself available and headed to the shop! I literally went to the first one I came across which happened to be a Wild Bean Cafe at a BP Garage. I grabbed a selection of high calorie, processed rubbish and went to pay.


"RTC, car vs pedestrian, ? Injuries"

I swear they are watching me! They must me! It's every time I try and eat! EVERY SINGLE TIME! Dammit!

The job was 13 miles away but without even a grumble (that they could hear) I shot off. In reality I was swearing and bitching to myself and moaning out loud the fact that a) I was hungry b) this job is miles away and c) I was hungry. See, I have a food problem! I cant stop thinking about it, yet can't bloody get any! Again, I was weaving in and out of traffic on A roads, B roads, side streets and bits of kerb! I like to mix it up! I was making good progress, and like with all semi-serious / serious jobs I was building a game plan as I went along. 

Left turn, right turn, onto the wrong side of the road and round a traffic island. Through some red lights, back onto the wrong side of the road and lights off, sirens off as I approached a fast duel carriage way! Wouldn't want to be the cause of another crash! Once the lights changed, the noise was restarted and off I went! Left turn, right turn, blah blah blah! It really is good fun at times! Only 4 miles to go!

'CANCELLED: 'Quicker responding unit'

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.......AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH! Right, FOOD! Or not....


"31 year old female, sickle cell crisis"

OK, this wasn't far, sickle cell is simple, give pain relief until the ambulance arrives, handover, go and get food. That is as simple a battle plan as can be! This time I made it on scene without a cancellation, grabbed my stuff and went over to the patient who was sitting on the back seat of a car, in the grounds of a hospital. I know what you're thinking, but it was a mental health hospital! I started talking to her and became aware of the some ECG electrodes on her hands and ankles! Specifically, ambulance ones!

"Have you had an ambulance today already?!"

"Yes" she said, wincing in pain.

"So what happened?"

Her friend interrupted....

"She was taken to hospital but we waited like, an hour and they didn't do nothing so I brought her here cause I thought this hospital would help, but they won't."

"This is a mental health hospital, she needs to be in A & E. All the hospitals are busy and she will have to wait anywhere she goes, it's just the way it is I'm afraid."

*patients friend kisses her teeth at me*

"Well we ain't going back to dat s**t hole."

"Well that is down to the ambulance crew that arrives. You can discuss it with them."

With that I begun offering Entonox.

"I need morphine, that's all I can have."

"Well lets try this first and see how you go."

"No, just give me morphine."

On cue, the ambulance arrived! And as luck would have it, it was the crew who took her to hospital a few hours earlier. They broke the news that she had self discharged on arrival because the hospital knew her to be a morphine junkie who didn't even have sickle cell! She simply pretended to different ambulance crews and different hospitals across the city! Luckily she had been rumbled and after some foul mouthed expletives and some teeth kissing they drove off! Presumably to go and call another ambulance from somewhere else. 

No wonder the NHS is up shit creek without a paddle! This is what we are up against!

I popped into the hospital to use a loo, it'd been a good 10 hours! My bladder control is good but seriously.....! Inside the building I was greeted by an 'Out of Order' vending machine! FOOD!!!! Oh the torture! Anyway, not wanting to discuss toilets further, I did my paperwork and made myself available for another one! This day was becoming ridiculous! It's never this busy on the car! What next?! 

To be continued.....


  1. My God! Your Ambulance service is a tough one, the one i work for has no choice but to stand you down when your lunch break window arrives and you are clear, the only way you miss lunch is if you get a job before your window and it runs through, but even then as soon as the job is completed you are sent for lunch.
    I really feel sorry for you!

  2. sounds like some one is having a fun day :-D

  3. Love the blog and genuinely not meaning to be critical (perhaps the situation has been blurred by anonymisation) but going back to the Somali family, why is it the GP's job to educate? Shouldn't paramedics also use such opportunities to inform patients of alternative pathways and politely refuse an ambulance to an already overwhelmed A&E dept?

    1. I reckon that a paramedic on a response car has less time to spend on educating people on proper pathways to treatment than one of a team of GPs in a practice. Also in this situation it read to me like Ella tried to tell them that hospital wasn't the answer but they were culturally disinclined to believe her.


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