Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Emergency Medicine - Part 1

'RELATIVES: Ignore any first aid advice you’ve ever been given and just throw a glass of water in your loved ones face. Works a treat.'

I laughed when I tweeted this the other day. I know it’s a poor reflection on myself to be laughing at my own jokes, but I was just reliving the countless times I’ve gone to patients and found myself asking ‘Why are they soaking wet?!’. Invariably, the answer isn’t that they’ve just been out in the rain but that they just had a glass of water thrown in their face. It’s like some mythical sick joke! ‘I know, this person feels sick, let’s chuck water in their face! That’ll make them all better!’ It’s absolutely bonkers! Anyway, to that end, I thought I’d share some of my favourite home remedies that I have encountered! They range from the bizarre to the outright ridiculous. I wonder if JRCALC would consider putting any in our treatment guidelines! 


“52 year old male, cardiac arrest”

I had finished work for day but on hearing a cardiac arrest on the general broadcast with no units assigned I offered up for it. It’s what we are here for right?! I rushed to the address and was bet at the end of the road by a franticly waving man. Once he had my attention he literally sprinted like Usain Bolt down the road and into the house. This level of urgency must mean it was as given. I grabbed every bit of kit I could possibly need and headed up the stairs. I could hear the wailing and the crying, everyone was stressed and despite carrying the payload of a jumbo jet I bundled my way past all the screaming relatives to the patient. 

He wasn’t in cardiac arrest. He wasn’t even unconscious. He was however laying on the floor having possibly had a faint or panic attack or a combination of the two. He was soaking wet and absolutely stunk of vinegar.

“Why is he wet, and why does he smell of vinegar?!”

“We poured a bottle of vinegar on his head.”

She said it like I was being the idiot for asking such a stupid question! 

“Why? Why have you poured a bottle of vinegar on his head?”

“Because he wasn’t breathing properly.”

Aaaaahhh, I didn’t realise that the treatment for dealing with breathing problems was vinegar on the head! This will be helpful for so many patients! My next VDI will go something like:
-Morphine  
-Paramedic Drugs  
-Tech Drugs  
-EZ-IO drill and needles  
-Diagnostic equipment  
-Vinegar  
-IV fluids  
Good to go! Vinegar!! Amazing! Needless to say, I left this particular cardiac arrest at home with advise and some adjustments to their next Ocado delivery.


“15 year old female, burns to leg”

From what I could gather, she had spilt a hot drink on her legs. The history wasn’t exactly forthcoming due to the circus of panic that was surrounding the patient. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought her legs had just been amputated. A woman barged past me as I was trying to get closer to the patient they had called me to see. The woman had two handfuls of potatoes. I would go on to found out that these were extra potatoes on top of the ones that had been used prior to my arrival. 

Eventually I managed to fight my way through the crowd to get to the patient. Standing over her was a relative. Frantically peeling potato skin onto her scalded leg. Yep! Potato skin. Sod all that running under cold water lark! Who needs that, when it’s much easier to turn your daughter into what was essentially a giant human potato rosti! 

“What are you doing?!”

“She has a burn, we peel potatoes.”

“I can see that, but can we stop, and get rid of the potato peels please?! We need to run it under cold water! Not dress her like a hash brown!”

“No more potatoes?”

“No, no more potatoes!”

It was a minor scald. Once she was clear of starchy veg and cleaned I was able to put a burns dressing on. She was then taken to hospital. Again, shopping list and future treatment advise was given. Will we see potatoes joining aqua-gel and cling film any time soon?! Hmmmmm!


“47 year old female, collapsed”

I find that when jobs have very little information to go on, it’s a sign that the patient isn’t going to be that unwell. On arrival, the familiar signs of overreaction and panic were evident! I’m always amazed how many people can fit into such small rooms! When someone becomes unwell the entire world, their wives and extended friends of friends seem to congregate in the room when the invalid lies! As I entered the room I had to ask all non-essential well wishers to wait outside so I could have room to do my thang!

As it turns out, I wasn’t needed. They had it all under control. My under control I meant the patient was lying on her back, legs being held up in the air whilst having olive oil massaged into her feet.  And by massaged, I don't mean a relaxing spa massage with relaxing oils. I mean a frantic, verging on violent massage or some kind of weird, lubricated tickle torture. Admittedly, it wouldn’t have been my first choice of treatment for a panic attack but what do I know?! 

“What’s with the oil?”

“She faint, we oil her feet.”

“Ah, OK, how about we stop that and sit her up so she can breath, I imagine holding her legs over her head will be making breathing a tad difficult.”

Sure enough, once the room was less like the mosh-pit of a Slipknot concert and she was upright and not being contorted in an oily mess, her breathing improved. I left her at home, again, with advise on what to do should a similar situation arise again. Somehow, I don’t think Olive Oil will be joining Sodium Chloride and Glucose any time soon. You never know though…..


To be continued......


2 comments:

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