Everyone was ignoring the patient.

We'd picked her up after an episode of a recurrent illness, she was going to be fine but I felt sorry for her.  Hardly anyone was talking to her, they were all distracted by her partner.  I worried about how safe her partner would be in the back of our ambulance, it turned out that it wouldn’t be a problem.

When we got to the hospital the staff there were more concerned with the patient’s partner although she was a big hit with the department and she did cause a few organisational problems.  A few other patients looked a little worried by her presence.

It made me feel bad, I felt that the patient was being ignored a little with everyone paying full attention to her partner.  So I made sure that I talked to her, I’m guessing that although she was used to such reactions she would still feel upstaged.

“I bet you get ignored a lot when you are with her”, I asked our patient.

“Yes, but you have to get used to it”, she replied.

But why was all this attention being lavished on our patient’s partner?

Because our patient was blind and her partner was a guide dog.

Sure, it’s an unusual thing to have to deal with a guide dog in an A&E department (although where I worked in A&E we had a ‘regular’), but it still surprised me that playing with the dog or talking about it seemed to be more important than putting the patient’s mind at ease.  Maybe it’s because I’ve got a mate who is registered blind, but it just seems rude to put all your attention on their dog, no matter how cute they are.


Blogging is a bit slow at the moment partly because I have nearly run out of interesting ambulance stories to write about.  I’m working on something (when I can motivate myself out of my current ‘funk’), that may mean more posting.  I believe that the best way to get out of a bad spell is to throw yourself into work…

14 thoughts on “Attention”

  1. Kudos to you!!! Not much fun to be the one in need of help and your being sidestepped by a canine. I'm proud of you for thinking to engage the patient! 🙂 Great call.

  2. Isn't it unsafe to chat up the dog when it's working? Where I work (there are a few blind employees and contractors) the dogs have signs that say “Please don't distract me. I'm a working dog.” Maybe that's needed?

  3. Good for you talking to the patient! A blind friend of mine taught me that I was supposed to ignore the dog. The dog was doing a job and was not to be distracted while she was in harness. Once the harness was off, then it was OK to pay attention to the dog.Same as when you're talking to someone through a translator – it's rude to keep looking at the translator all the time and not at the person you're talking to.

  4. I was thinking the same thing as Foilwoman and Susan. A friend of mine has a trained dog, although she's not blind but she is in a wheelchair. I'm not sure what the proper name for it is, but it's kind of a carer, it helps her undress and all sorts! Anyway, she's told me before that any working dogs like that shouldn't really be fussed because it distracts them from their work. In the case of a guide dog I suppose it could be dangerous for the dog to be easily distracted.That poor woman. It's not a nice feeling for anyone to be ignored, but especially when you're ill and in need of some attention.

  5. Hi TomJust got 'Da Book' and am steeling myself not to start reading it until my girly spa day next week, when I know I wont be able to put it down. The perfect remedy for the winter 'funk'!

    Merry Christmas!


  6. Fuss is a reward, so fussing over a dog in this way sends the most confusing messages possible. I was always taught to ignore working dogs so as not to indicate there are rewards for things outside their (amazing and valuable) work. The intense one-on-one they get from their owner is more reward than many domestic dogs get, so it's hardly cruel to do so.There are plenty of cute pooches in every dog's home in the country if people are that deprived of canines – but, like babies, I suppose it's easier to make a fuss of other people's and leave the poopie bits to someone else…

  7. Yep, understand what you mean about the blogging thing and getting in an occasional funk. Sometimes it gets slow and then you catch a breeze that turns into a wind and you're writing as fast as a rushing ambulance!Definitely enjoy getting my fix of London through your blog

  8. We had an operational instruction issued not so long back about transporting guide dogs in ambulances. Not come across a patient with a dog yet (other than the normal yappy ones that want to bite me) but rest assured as someone who doesn't like dogs, I'll be talking to the patient, not fussing the dog!

  9. In the US we call them “assistance dogs” or “service dogs.” Under Federal law they are allowed to go anywhere (unlike Britain, “regular” dogs can't travel on trains or local busses in the US, and health regulations generally prohibit allowing them in places that serve food). Under the disability law it is discriminatory to demand to know what service the dog performs, (not always obvious if the dog is trained to assist with a hidden condition like epilepsy) and there is no official process of certification for the dogs, so in theory anyone can claim their dog is an “assistance dog.” I haven't heard of any cases of abuse, however (but most people are unaware of the provisions of the law, so that could change).

  10. I have a guide dog, unfortunately she's extreemly pretty and loves people so we get a lot of attention. I've got used to it though, its wierd going out without her not hearing everyone say 'oh look at that dog isn't she beautiful!'. I always have to ask people not to distract her even though she has a big sign on her harness saying 'please do not distract me I'm working' and one on her lead that says 'please do not feed me.'.When I was in A and E having an asthma attack the nurses were more concerned fussing my dog than they were attending to me. I was struggling to breathe on the bed having a nebuliser trying to hold my dog with one hand and they were fussing her so I was being pulled all over the place. There were 3 nurses on the floor! I was too breathless to talk let alone to complain!

    She's never been in an ambulance but she didn't like the ambulance men taking me away when I was poorly another time.

    Oh the joys of being a guide dog owner!

  11. if i were you i wouldnt just write comments about stories/interesting things that have happened that day, i'd write about what happened in general, ie: if you had a boring day, just write about it, how you feel about that, it would give a more accurate description of the life of a paramed. it would also be more boring, so maybe just go for something inbetween the 2. just an ideax.

  12. I'm kind of surprised that staff in the hospital were doing it – I mean, it's a standard thing that a quiet, good-looking, well-looked-after dog will attract attention from strangers, particularly children, who want to pat it, but I'd kind of assumed that medically trained personnel were less likely to make such a disability-related faux pas. As proved in this thread, it's hardly uncommon knowledge that you Do Not fuss a working dog.

  13. not like the taxi driver who picked up a blind girl and showed his licence to the dog (as the owner obviously couldnt read it but the dog could?)

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