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Biking mad

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:27pm
Ten emergencies; one conveyed, one hoax and eight taken by ambulance.

The shift started with a call to an 80 year-old who had fallen out of bed and was stuck between the bed and a wall. She was confused and not really making sense so it was likely the fall wasn’t her only problem. The crew were on scene at the same time and so I assisted with the careful removal of this lady from her temporary resting place on the floor to the ambulance trolley bed, during which I helped with lifting the chair-bound patient. I like to help with lifts wherever possible because one of the main criticisms about being on the car is that you don’t get much, if any, patient lifting practice.

A 61 year-old woman with pain in her arm and hand due to a trapped nerve got an emergency response because she said “yes” when asked if her breathing was difficult. Once again a major triumph in telephonic diagnostics. I didn’t even go into the flat – a crew was on scene just behind me and I really wasn’t required for this one.

Those crazy cyclists are at it again – today bore out much of what I have been saying about many London cyclists; they are dangerous and flaunt the law at every opportunity. I was called to a 20 year-old cyclist who had slammed into a lamp post at full speed in an attempt to navigate his way around traffic. The traffic was moving and he was cutting in and out between cars, which isn’t clever. He fell foul of one when it almost clipped him - he lost control and hit the post without braking. Although lucky not to be killed, he sustained a head injury (he wasn’t wearing a helmet) and a badly broken collar bone. Obviously he was in some pain but he was stable with no neck pain or other significant injury. There was plenty of blood around from his head wound but a first aider had rushed out from a nearby office and put a large dressing on it. This good Samaritan also offered to secure the man’s bike for him when he was taken to hospital. His acrobatic cycling had almost cost him more than his bike and he made one sensible comment as I treated him:

“I think I’ll take the bus next time”.

An emergency call for a 32 year-old female, heavily pregnant and bleeding badly had me rushing up and down a busy street looking for the address, which was inaccurate and had become a guessing game both for me and the ambulance that showed up soon after I arrived. This few minutes delay may have cost a lot more than inconvenience on a call like this and I wish someone, somewhere would verify exact details. Sometimes I get sent to a street – that’s it; no number, no precision, just a street name and I’m left to crawl the length of it looking for a likely suspect.

Luckily, in this case, the nature of the call was inaccurate too. The woman was pregnant and she was bleeding but not a lot and not in any way life-threatening.

My second cyclist of the day got off scot-free when she had a confrontation with a lorry. Again, this cyclist had tried to nip in between the large truck and the pavement, just to save a few seconds of time, rather than stay behind it. The driver of the lorry didn’t see her and managed to crush her bike underneath a wheel. The woman was caught under the lorry too but a bystander stopped the driver and told him to carefully move back a few inches, allowing the trapped cyclist to free herself without an injury. She was very lucky to escape (as you can see from the photo).

Not all cyclists are mad. A few of them behave properly on the road and stop at red lights. Unfortunately in Central London, the majority of them ignore the law and some of them are just downright dangerous, to themselves and others. I have seen cyclists speed through pedestrian crossings when people were on them, completely ignoring the danger they put others in. I spent a shift counting the number of cyclists who ran red lights and over active crossings – of the 33 that I noticed, 30 broke the law. Do they think that just because they can weave in and out it is okay to behave like that? I don’t and I will point this out whenever I get a chance to catch one out. Read The Thin Blue Line for a police officer’s perspective of this problem.

An abdo pain next. A 38 year-old who was having an asthma attack, triggered by abdominal pain was sitting in the ladies toilets of a public building when I arrived. She was panicking and a little wheezy, so I gave her some salbutamol and a lot of reassurance. The crew took over a few minutes after I started treating her.

Then a 24 year-old female who had fainted at work in a hotel. A training crew arrived with me and I let them get on with it while I chatted to their Training Supervisor, a colleague from my base station. Everything was under control and there was no need for the extra body, so I left a short time afterwards and had my break. I was starving. Unfortunately the HQ canteen had stopped serving hot food and I had to settle for a Twix. I’m sure I needed the sugar.

I went up to Trafalgar Square for my late afternoon stand-by stint in the sun after that. I drove onto the square and noticed a small black camera case on the ground with a bottle of Sprite next to it. Nobody was near these items and I couldn’t find the owner. Other people had been looking at them with suspicion. Now this seems paranoid but in this day and age, in Central London and with two police helicopters hovering overhead watching everything in this area, it seemed a little worrying that I should be the one who checked these items out. The bottle was sitting very close to the case and had liquid in it (probably Sprite). I stood over those isolated things and thought about my options. If they were just as they seemed I could pick them up and either throw them or find an owner. Otherwise, I could be blown up and look like a fool (posthumously of course) for not knowing any better.

I could also look like a fool for standing there wondering what to do. It was a weird few minutes but I was saved from making a decision by a lady tourist who scampered over and claimed responsibility for the items. I was not happy with her at all.

After that close call I was told by a passing Londoner that a building had just collapsed in Victoria and asked why I wasn’t dealing with it. I replied that I hadn’t been told anything about it. I felt a bit embarrassed because he seemed to think that, as a uniformed on-duty paramedic, I should be aware of a major incident occurring a mere mile or so away!

I called in a request to go and help with the collapsed building but I was refused; there were lots of resources on scene already. I was about to find out how true that was.

I was sent to a back pain next. She was standing outside her workplace and described sciatica to me when I asked her what was happening. She had been like this for 4 hours and decided to call an ambulance because she ‘couldn’t walk ‘. Strange because she walked to the car when I arrived. She could have gone to any walk-in centre or A&E department by now.

She refused the entonox I offered because she claimed it made her pain worse and she would not sit in the car, so I could do nothing else but wait for an ambulance to take her away. Luckily, there were still a few around and I was relieved within ten minutes.

As a result of the depleted local resources I was asked to go on a non-emergency call and check the status of a 66 year-old lady who had tripped over in a hotel and hurt her wrist. The poor woman had been waiting for an hour by the time I was despatched – they could have just asked me earlier. When I examined the lady she had an obvious fracture of the wrist, probably involving both long bones (radius and ulna). She wasn’t in a lot of pain, which was just as well and she walked to the car and allowed me to take her to hospital. The shortage of ambulances as a result of the building collapse was beginning to tell.

My last call of the shift was for a female who had been stabbed in south London, so I raced across the bridge – well, I say raced, more like a weaving dance. The traffic had been brought to a standstill around Whitehall because of the recent incident and I had to trace a path through the gridlock. When I was almost on top of the RV I was updated and told that the police suspected firearms and that I was to stay well clear of the location. I did as I was told but was cancelled at the last moment because it was discovered the call was a hoax.

More and more ‘firearms’ calls are hoaxes in this area of London. One day, a call like this will distract resources from a genuine shooting. Well done idiots of the World.

Be safe.
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