Wednesday 22 January 2014

Emergency Medicine - Part 2

'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.'


“61 year old male, burns to chest.”

Burns to chest isn’t that common except in cases of major burns. Normally it’s legs and arms, either from spillage or stupidity. Burns kit in hand I headed inside. The air was ripe with the smell of burnt hair. The patient was lying on the kitchen island topless. He’d lent over the hob whilst it was on. He had been trying to change the bulb in the extractor hood and set his shirt on fire. Apart from being a candidate for a Darwin award he was also beginning to look like an entry in The Great British Bake Off! 

There he was, lying flat as if he was planking, being buttered. Yep! His wife was scooping handfuls of butter out of the pot and basically basting him. He was only a few steps away from being floured, rolled out flat and being put in a pastry tin ready for roasting. 

“No more butter!”

“But he has a burn!”

“I know, but no more butter! We need to get him into the shower room and run cold water over it and keep it clean, OK?!”

She un-trustingly nodded at me. I am only trying to help! 

Once he was out of his cold shower, I dressed the wound with aqua-gel and layered some cling film on top. He also got treated to some morphine and entonox. 

I was fully expecting his wife to say ‘I can’t believe it’s not butter’

Sorry! That was awful!

“27 year old female, breathing problems, ?panic attack”

On arrival I was greeted with what had become a very familiar sight. Patient hyperventilating. Relatives fanning patient and running around like headless chickens. Often it’s the relatives that need the most help! The patient was crying and wasn’t being quite about it. She was also full flow in her panic attack. 

“Why is she soaking wet?”

“We poured water on her head?”


“To calm her down.”

Almost as she said it a hand flashed past my face. Then in slow motion I watched a glass full of water empty and start making its way through the air towards the patients face. With unerring accuracy the entire contents hit her square in the face.

Sure enough, the crying elevated to new levels. I don’t think she needed the second glass…..

“Stop it! What are you doing?!”

“Trying to calm her down.”

“I don’t think throwing cold water on her face is going to do that. All it’s going to do is make her wet and cold. I am now also wet. No more water. She’s not on fire!”

“OK, sorry, she needs to calm down though.”

The classic home treatment and I’d had the pleasure of witnessing it in all its glory! I can’t think of any situation where this would be my first choice or treatment. No one like having cold water poured on their face. No one! Least of all those who are already stressed or panicked! It is just such a bizarre thing to do! I would love someone who frequently uses this technique to let me know their rationale! 

“25 year old male, burns whilst cooking”

I blogged about this job before at length in Getting Egged, but I’ll share with you the highlights once again!

This guy had been cooking for his friends. He had used an industrial sized saucepan to cook a spaghetti bolognese for his friends. He’d decided to cook wearing only his pants, as you do. During the motion of transferring the vat of bolognese from the hob to the table he slipped on the wet floor and poured the entire contents of the saucepan over his torso, arms, groin, neck and legs. Probably close to 50% burns. It was actually really bad! 

Anyway, his friends knew exactly what to do in such perilous circumstances. Crack eggs onto the burns. Not just a 6 pack or even a Waitrose 9 pack. Nope, a Costco 24 pack of eggs. Every single one, cracked over his burning body. When you combine eggs with heat they begin to cook. By the time I walked in to the chaos, it was basically a giant omelet with a head. 

What followed with one of the most difficult and painful scrambled egg removals I’ve been involved in. The poor guy was an absolute trooper and to get morphine inside of him I ended up having to cannulate his feet! 

As is always the case, before we left to take him to the trauma centre I gave some excellent health promotion and financial advise to his friends. Namely, by telling them to use tap water, not eggs in the future….

*          *          *          *          *

This little lot would make an excellent sketch! TV producers, take note!

People really do the strangest things and never ever cease to amaze. I genuinely wouldn't be surprised if I walked into a house to find a patient in a bath tub full of tined mackerels for treatment of a sore throat! It seems to be the done thing! No doubt I’ll have more to share in the near future but this should keep you all going for now! Anyone else experiences any particularly bizarre treatments for medical emergencies?! Please share! 

Anyway, this has made me all hot and bothered. I must go and throw water in my face, crack an egg on my head, douse myself in vinegar, bathe in olive oil and rub myself with butter and apply my potato skin body scrum. It what all the cool kids do, right?!


  1. Keep up the great work.

  2. I'm sorry, but "a giant omelette with a head" made me laugh so hard. The poor git!

  3. I've read your article. Thanks for sharing worthy info!


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