Five emergencies; one dead at scene, the others conveyed by ambulance.
Sunshine all day today. Not too warm but hey, who's complaining?
The first call of the morning was for a 78 year-old female ‘not breathing ?suspended’. They weren’t wrong and when I arrived the crew were ahead of me. I climbed to the fourth floor (no lifts) and stood, a little out of breath, in the woman’s front room as the crew paramedic told me she was long gone.
She lay face down on her settee and the PM staining was obvious around her face, as was the rigor of her limbs when I touched them. There was no doubt here and obviously nothing for us to do but console the woman’s relative and do the necessary paperwork. I left the crew on scene as they carried out those duties and went back to my car, cancelling the incoming second ambulance crew as I did – there was no point in crowding out the flat, especially as the relative was already distraught at her sudden loss.
A call for a 30 year-old man ‘passing blood through his rectum’ led me to one of the Royal parks where two police officers stood over a homeless man as he sat on the pavement. He told me he had been passing dark coloured stools recently and I had no reason to doubt him – he was an alcoholic and liver disease, with its related health problems, is common in such individuals. He was also very cold; he sat there shivering in the morning sunshine.
I tried to get a temperature from his ears but they were so full of wax that the probe wouldn’t work for me. It can’t ‘see’ past gunk in the canal and if it can’t detect the heat from the ear-drum, it won’t give a reading, so I gave up on it and assumed that he was cold enough to warrant re-warming, even if he was known to be a frequent flyer.
On my way back through Trafalgar Square I watched in amazement as a cyclist attempted to race through a red light before noticing that the heavy traffic, which also included a good number of fellow cyclists – none of whom were about to give way to him as he began to cross their rightful path, was heading straight towards him. This caused him to think again, so he applied his brakes hard, so hard, in fact, that he flew head-long over the handlebars and landed with an undignified thud on the ground in front of the now-slowing vehicles. I waited to see if he’d need my help but he stood up immediately and walked himself and his crippled bicycle back to the pavement. He was lucky this time and I drove off wondering if he’d learned anything.
A 25 year-old female with abdominal pain at work was my next patient. She lay on the first aid room bed with her knees drawn up to ease the pain, which was quite high up in her abdomen; just below the sternum. She had no medical history for this and had never experienced this kind of pain before, which she scored at 8 (and a half) out of ten. Her sense of humour was intact, thankfully; otherwise my attempts to console through lame jokes and wise-cracks are misinterpreted or missed entirely. I choose my subjects for banter carefully these days.
She was given entonox for her pain by the crew when they arrived and off she went to hospital for a diagnosis (hopefully).
A call to a busy street in the West End for a 35 year-old male having a fit next. A CRU colleague was on scene already and seemed to have it all under control but maybe my hands could help, so I got out and got the story from him.
The patient was an epileptic with learning difficulties and he was with his parents, both of whom knew exactly how to treat him. He’d been given some of his own medicine by his mother and now everyone was waiting for him to recover fully. An off-duty doctor was also on scene and had helped out while the man had his seizure on the pavement.
He remained post ictal and somewhat combative for a while and getting a set of obs was proving difficult. When the crew arrived it took a few of us to lift him, unwillingly, onto the trolley bed and take him into the ambulance. All the while, his parents tried to reassure him but that didn’t seem to help – he became a crying bundle in the back of the vehicle – a normal part of his recovery, his mother told me. Calm, collected and thoroughly rehearsed parents are rare.
On my last call, I was told to ‘shut up!’ by a MOP who was walking on the pavement as I drove off and started my sirens (for the benefit of the traffic ahead). It irritates me when this happens (and it frequently does) – my instinct tells me to stop and ask him why he’s being so stupidly rude. I’m not the one making the noise. It’s not my fault his ears are sensitive or the siren frequency is so high and aggravating to him. Ignorant man.
I had to travel down a one-way street to get to my 16 year-old girl with DIB...remember that means difficulty in breathing; severe respiratory distress. What did I find? A teenager, sitting on a step, talking on her mobile phone to Control. I didn’t find a gasping asthmatic, as I expected, and the other detail given – that she was ‘unable to move at all’ was a myth too. She stood up and walked to the ambulance with me when it arrived. It's amazing what people will tell us when asked certain questions.
She had been given some pills by her GP and now she ‘felt funny’, without specifying what that entailed – laughter perhaps?
I got a nice long stint on stand-by in the sunshine at Traffy Square and I watched in amazement as two teenagers from Korea (they had their national badges on) showed off their football skills to the general public. It was fascinating to watch and they balanced the ball and played with it without losing it, even when they somersaulted around it as it flew into the air. Good stuff but can they play football, I thought.
I also pondered the people crawling all over the lions in the square. They do it all the time and we are frequently called to sprains, fractures and head injuries as a result of them falling off...it’s a long way to the ground. I wondered at the irony that nobody has bothered to warn them off, even with a sign saying it was their own fault if they damaged themselves, you know, to cover any possible liability the authorities may have. Instead there are prominent signs warning people not to feed the pigeons.
So, when you visit the Square, please don’t feed the birds but by all means, feel free to fall off the lions.