Friday 9 August 2013

Bridging The Gap

"18 year old male, on railway tracks, multiple injuries"

I'm assuming most of you have heard of The Darwin Awards?! If you haven't, they are basically a fictitious award that recognise individuals who have contributed to human evolution by self-selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death due to their own unnecessarily foolish actions. The awards are now more official after a serious of books and the criterion for the awards states, "in the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinary idiotic manner, thereby improving our species chances of long-term survival". Now, this nominee didn't die, somehow, but his actions and the similar actions of others is what provides us with job security! 

There he was, lying on the tracks, about 2 foot from the train. He was covered in blood. He had head injuries, broken teeth, a broken ankle and a dislocated shoulder. He found it all very amusing, due to the fact he was totally plastered. We found the general situation less amusing. I'm sure the 1000s of passengers at this busy station during the rush hour were also not amused.  Neither did the police, the fire brigade, the station staff, HEMS and the rest of the gang who'd arrived. That is A LOT of resources! Anyway, we treated all of his injuries, packaged him up, lifted him off the tracks and got him off to hospital.

"I don't know what all the fuss is about." he said. 


45 minutes earlier......

He had been drinking with friends all day whilst watching the cricket. He was well dressed and frightfully well spoken. He went to a very expensive, private school and made sure we all knew about it. Anyway, the cricket had finished and it was time to get home 'in time for supper'. He arrived at the station with friends and they were cutting it fine to get their train. If they'd have missed it, they would have had to wait a whole 15 minutes until the next one. They rushed up the platform in a loud and garish rabble. They had come up to the wrong platform and their train was approached. They were faced with a choice. Do they a) cut their losses and wait for the next one or b) run back down the stairs, along the corridor and back up to train. It appears our patient had a better idea. He had option c)!


Option c) involved a leap of faith. A jump of at least 16 feet, across two train tracks and onto the concrete platform on the other side. 16 feet is a long way, especially with a small run up and especially when landing on concrete!

With the train approaching, and to the horror of onlookers, he went for it. He ran, he jumped, and about 8 ft short, he landed. And landed badly. Despite breaking his ankle he managed to scramble, fuelled by adrenaline to the far platform edge and climb up. Somehow, he made it! In what was a pure act of bravado and showmanship, he stood up, and like Rocky Balboa, raised his arms above his head in celebration. 

FACT: Standing up straight when drunk can be a challenge. Standing up straight when drunk, with a badly broken ankle is never going to end well. 

Sure enough, with the train now 20 ft away he fell backwards. 


He again, land on the tracks with a thud. The train slammed on the brakes but not quite soon enough. By all accounts the patient somehow managed to stand before the impact and was then bounced backwards before the train came to an abrupt halt. 

He was alive and not critically injured. He had multiple broken bones, delayed 1000s of people getting home and needed the assistance of every emergency service. And all because he didn't want to be late for supper! Genius! One thing is for sure. There will always be candidates for The Darwin Awards and there will always be people intent on providing us with job security. I suppose that in itself is a blessing. 


Wednesday 7 August 2013

Life Goes On

So, there I was, in Costa coffee, in the middle of town on a hot summers day, people watching! Throngs of people were rushing past in both directions, most with their mobile phone to their ear, the rest starring down at them as they walked. People don't break their stride for anything. Nothing can come in the way of routine.

Inside was the usual hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop. The symphony of mobile phones, steam from the coffee machine, the chinks of china and metal spoons, the scraping of chairs and the dull hum of many discernible conversations echoed throughout the room. There I was doing my thing, there they were doing their thing.

I was deep in concentration and very task focused. Perhaps I didn't take care not to leave my bag in the way of the thoroughfare. Personally I didn't think it was too much in the way but hey, I guess it's subjective! A lady in a business suit, made a real song and dance over having to step over it, tutting as she did. I apologised and moved it out of her way so she could rush out and join the drones. I remember thinking 'that skirt is WAY too short, who's she trying to impress?!'.

It appears it wasn't only my bag in the way! Clearly I'd positioned myself in the worst place possible as within a minute a mum with a double buggy was trying to get by! This was NOT my fault. This thing was like a small car. You can't drive a car through a coffee shop so you shouldn't try and drive a tank of a buggy either! Anyway, rather than get in an argument about the rights and wrongs of double buggies weaving between coffee shop tables, I moved myself out the way and let her be on her way. 

I looked around the room and everyone appeared to be in their own bubbles. Two people having in depth conversations, mothers talking to their babies, a few people reading their books or newspaper, others on their laptops and some starring at their phones, tapping away. Then there was the queue! We LOVE a queue in this country! It's all so ordered! The constant gaze at the menu and the perusing of the patisserie stand. the starring at the watches, the playing with the phone and the shuffle forward like a penguin when someone leaves! It's amazing to watch! This particular queue was gradually getting bigger and was now blocking the path to the toilets. Now more people had to come past me! That meant more tuts. Some people even knocked into me which I thought was a little off!

The chime of the door was constant, as people came and went. Their lives crossing with others for a few minutes and then going on their merry way. I wonder if they would recognise anyone that they saw in here! Would they recognise Costa's Baristas? Would they recognise the people they queued next to?! Would they recognise me?! That girl they nearly all bumped into! I wonder!

Oh, I forgot to mention....

"46 year old female, having a seizure, in Costa coffee"

I was at work! This woman's seizure wasn't going to stop itself. It was a very violent fit, you know, the full body shaking one's you see on TV! All my bags were open, and adding to the coffee shop symphony was the hiss of the oxygen cylinder, the beep of the Lifepack and the hum of the blood pressure cuff. Amongst the madness was me, cannulating and giving drugs and generally getting in the way! 

Is it weird that life goes on around us?! Sure, people looked up and shared a glance but generally, a woman having a massive, life threatening seizure was just an inconvenience to most. After all, we have routines, targets and deadlines to meet. Do you think any of the people who bumped into me or stepped over my patient and my bags will get home 9 hours later and think 'I wonder if that woman is ok'?! Do you think they will even remember it?! 

For the record, she died that afternoon. And when we moved her out of the shop, still fitting, we blocked the road for 5 minutes. How many people do you think cursed us?! Probably all the ones beeping their horns.

Life must go on after all, mustn't it?

Friday 2 August 2013

Funny Patients and Funny People

"40 year old male, ? hypo"

Badly controlled diabetes, quite frankly causes havoc for ambulance services up and down the country. These patients are generally regular callers, but ones who always require treatment and intervention and as such, little can be done to reduce the constant flow of resources sent to them. With a reduced level of consciousness it automatically means an FRU and an ambulance are sent and quite often, takes a significant amount of time to deal with. This particular patient was very well known to me with a mix of good and bad experiences. The last time I dealt with him he was naked and extremely aggressive. Trying to cannulate or give an injection into a patient intent on swinging arms, kicking and spitting is a tricky business! I was hoping on this occasion he would be completely out of it, and thus, easy to manage. As if I'd get want I want.....

I pulled up, grabbed my bags and headed inside. This guy's housemate is less than sympathetic to his plight and as soon as he saw me, he slammed his bedroom door. Just how most 40 year old single men act, right?! 

Today, one blessing was that he wasn't fully naked. He wasn't fully dressed either but beggars can't be choosers! He was lying on his bed, thrashing around as per usual and spitting in sporadic intervals. Joy! Luckily for me the ambulance arrived a few minutes after me so there were three of us on hand to deal with his stray arms and bodily fluids! 

Working on the FRU, I meet a lot of crews, often crews I have never met before and to be honest it's a mixed bag. Some are friendly, some are indifferent and some are just plain rude. Tonight, the crew were awesome! A great sense of humour, both dry and toilet and enough sarcasm and cynicism to amuse anyone. Despite dealing with a man intent on covering us in saliva we had a great time. I know it seems strange, but in this job, it is possible to spend a long time with a patient like this and enjoy yourself. Bear in mind, we all generally have the same, warped sense of dark humour so if you mix three like minded people with a bizarre patient, even more bizarre surroundings and a housemate acting like a sullen teenager, you're going to have fun. Throw into the mix a collection of Viagra scattered around the flat and you're left seriously trying to hold on to a professional demeanour, despite the obvious urge to burst out laughing! 

The patient was quickly medicated and then it was a waiting game for him to come back to his usual, strange and eccentric self! Needless to say, that time was passed sitting on sofas getting to know a great pair of people discussing everything from triathlons to drawn-on-penises. Seriously, how it got to that I'm not sure. It just happens. Anyway, once the patient was back to normal, he declined hospital, signed our paperwork and I left in a thoroughly good mood!

This job has its ups and downs. It can be the most demoralising and the most fulfilling, the saddest and the happiest. There are great patients and truly shocking patients but what makes it infinitely easier, is getting to work with great people. Tonight was a prime example. I left the patient, needing to change my uniform due to being spat on but did so with a smile. Thank you to crew the who came to help me with the funny little man with a silly haircut and an apparent addiction to Viagra! It was a pleasure!

They probably got in there truck, looked at each and said 'what a bitch!'