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Power trips

Posted Oct 18 2009 7:59am
Day shift: Four calls; one treated on scene; three by car.
Stats: 1 ? fractured foot; 1 Head injury; 1 Nosebleed; 1 abdo pain.


Getting drunk means you can pretty much forget the damage you cause yourself in the course of merriment but the consequences of trauma will always catch up with you, and so my first patient, a 36 year-old man who woke up after a boozy night out and a broken foot, discovered first-hand what alcohol can do, even indirectly. A heavy table had fallen on his toes the night before but he’d ignored the possibility of injury and gone back to his hotel room to sleep it off, only to arise the next day with a very swollen foot and cold extremities. He was lucky there was a pulse at all and that his foot hadn’t dropped off in the night.

He hobbled his way to the car and sought no sympathy bar the minimum required to keep him smiling as I drove him and his friend to A&E for repairs.


At a coach station I encountered a rude supervisor who insisted I move my car a few feet so that a bus could park in the area where I was trying to examine a woman who’d fallen and sustained a head injury. I said that I would move as soon as I’d dealt with my patient and was sure she could make it to the car (her injury seemed minor but still needed to be assessed). This did nothing to dissuade the Super from nagging me. ‘We have people who have arrived from the airport and the bus needs to stop here’, she said over and over again.

I relented and drove ten feet out of the way but only after I’d asked her what she would want me to do if it was her mother who had been injured. ‘My mother’s dead’, she said in the hope, I think, that this would elicit a profuse apology from me for being so obtuse. I gave her nothing in return because her attitude was so off and her priorities were at odds with mine, given that I was on an emergency call.

‘I was a paramedic’, she told me as I got into the car. I wondered why she wasn’t now. I wondered why she was the traffic warden for buses these days. I expect a complaint will be lodged against me but my poor patient had to walk a few more feet than necessary to get into the car as a result of this nit-picking power trip. Ironically and annoyingly, no coach arrived to occupy the space I’d just vacated. In fact, a taxi rolled into it, disposed of its passenger with all the time in the world and then drove off.

We get a lot of this behavior. I know that others have things to do and coaches to park but when someone is ill or injured, there should be a little more consideration. The patient, her husband and the man who stopped to help her up when she fell were utterly disgusted by that inconsiderate display.


Nosebleeds are common in children and sometimes they can occur spontaneously. Sometimes they are heavy bleeds but mostly they don’t last too long and resolve within minutes. But if you are a well-off person with children who are clearly not used to being challenged by nature, then it must seem disastrous. A famous model panicked when her son’s nose bled for about three minutes, triggering an ambulance call. She admitted that it had all been a bit OTT but also said that she wasn’t sure if something more serious was going on. The child had no health issues except a history of ear problems, so that’s where the epistaxis originated I’d guess. Nothing more to be done apart from mopping up and setting things straight for them.


Then a 14 year-old German girl with abdominal pain demanded my attention after a CRU had been on scene too long to be of any use to her. The mystery pain had been affecting her since she left home and she was living in the UK with hosts in Essex. She’d never been away from home before, so I’m guessing her condition had more to do with that than any underlying medical problems. I took both her and her friend to hospital just in case. She was, inevitably, much better by the time she arrived at casualty.

Be safe.
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