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Luck and fate

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:26pm
Seven calls; one assisted-only, one running call and the others needed an ambulance.

A chunk of concrete (it looks like a missing tooth) came away from the roof of the Selfridge building in Oxford Street. It fell over a hundred feet before exploding on the pavement, inches from a 17 year-old girl who was walking underneath at the time. This happened in daylight, when shoppers were out and about and it was only by sheer luck that she didn’t get seriously hurt. In fact, she escaped without a scratch.

This has happened before; last year a man was killed outright when one of these blocks came away and landed on him. Fate seems to have saved the lives of this girl (and many others if this had happened on a busy Saturday).

I got this call as a ‘please investigate’ after someone dialled 999 and said that a friend had called from Oxford Street to say that someone had been hit by a car. Control thought it might be a hoax, so sent me to check it out. I sped down there to find the police around the area, cordoning the pavement off and tending to this emotional wreck of a girl. Her friends were with her when it happened and they all looked a little shocked.

The police told me that they had received a call saying a bomb had gone off. Now it all made sense – the sound of that large brick shattering after its long and very fast journey to Earth must have been so loud that people in the distance had mistaken it for an explosion or the sound of a car hitting someone at speed – thus the calls.

I handed her over to the crew when they arrived and took this picture because I think something needs to be done about this urgently. Apparently work was carried out to check the integrity of these slabs after the man was killed but this has obviously failed to make things safe for people walking below, so maybe they should consider the design of this area of the roof. Maybe they should all be removed and replaced with something less hazardous or secured in some other, more permanent way.

I had started my shift with a call to a 50 year-old man who collided with a van whilst riding his motorcycle. The force of the impact ripped the number plate from the van and his ride was totalled. He was lucky enough to escape with a fairly minor leg injury and the only real hazard was the lake of petrol that was on the pavement. The LFB soon arrived to clear that up, however.

Then a 52 year-old woman with DIB but there was already a MRU and ambulance crew on scene, so I was not required and bowed out gracefully.

I witnesses an ugly little scene on my way back to the station. Again, in Oxford Street. A woman (a tourist in her 60’s I think) was crossing the street and didn’t notice a cyclist coming towards her as she walked into the road. I heard the cyclist shout something at her and then plough into her, knocking her down. She fell quite hard and the cyclist (and bike) tumbled after, entangling them in the road. I was going to see if I could help but they both struggled up. The cyclist had been underneath the woman, so he pushed her, quite aggressively, so that she rolled away from him. It was a very undignified thing to see. The poor woman stood up, dusted herself off and then was treated to a volley of verbal abuse from Mr Cycle man. Totally unnecessary in my book. I thought cyclists were calmer people because they got out more. Obviously I’m wrong.

A call to a 37 year-old with palpitations was a non-starter because, once again, the crew were ahead of me and I would have been a spare part.

Childbirth is a natural thing, we all know that but a first time mother with no family support needs reassurance. A 27 year-old, pregnant with her first child, single and without a family network, called the ambulance service because she felt faint and dizzy. She told me she had tried to get in touch with her midwife but couldn’t get an answer. In desperation she dialled 999. She was genuinely apologetic about it but didn’t know what else to do because she didn’t understand that the way she was feeling is part of the normal process of pregnancy for mothers. I helped her understand that everything was normal (all her vital signs were good) and the crew arrived to reinforce that. She went home much happier.

If you vomit once, it’s probably nothing. If you vomit twice then it’s probably worth resting and getting over what might be a stomach bug or food poisoning. If you vomit almost continuously for three hours, I suggest you have waited far too long to get it checked out.

A 40 year-old man was claiming this when he called us to a train station after slumping in a corner and telling staff he had been throwing up all over the place. I couldn’t understand why, if he was already out and about, he would wait so long and not take himself off to A&E. He waited three hours before doing anything about it, then decided an ambulance would be the right choice. Oh and he admitted eating lobster earlier in the day.

While I was at the station, doing my paperwork after the vomiting man, I was asked to take a look at a PCSO’s hand. He had been bitten by a drunkard as he tried to move him on.

He came out and showed me the injury; it was small and nasty and would certainly need to be cleaned but it also represented a potentially serious health risk to him. If the guy who had done this had HepB, Hiv or any other nasties, the cop could contract an infection through the wound. I arranged to take him to hospital myself while cops arrived by the van load to take care of the culprit.

I went into the station and spoke to the vagrant who was now lying, pinned down by the police, on the station concourse.

‘Do you have any medical issues. Any infections or diseases?’ I asked.

‘Yes’, he spat.


‘F**K off, I’m not telling you!’

Then he started kicking the police officers who were restraining him. I know one of these officers well – she is a friend of mine from Waterloo Train Station, where she is based. She is a big, strong woman and kicking her in the stomach, which is what our violent vagrant did, is a bad idea. She launched herself on top of him and he was flattened to the floor. He could breathe but he wasn’t going anywhere or kicking anyone again.

I took the PCSO to hospital and he waited to get checked out. He’ll probably need to give a sample of blood and the vagrant may have his taken so that any risk can be assessed and dealt with. Strangely, they call those who bite or inject us with their bodily fluids 'donors'.

After all that excitement, I got to go home...on time.
Be safe.
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