Those of you who read my Twitter feed will have had a preview to today's post.
The night before last I was attacked at work. Thankfully my injuries were limited to bruises and scratches, however I have been incapacitated by muscle strain. Let me explain.
We were sent to a man who was unconscious in the street, we arrived a few seconds before the police to find him collapsed in the road. It was obvious that someone had given him a good beating as his face was like a split fruit. Big cuts, large lumps, swollen lip – whoever had hit him had really gone to town on his face.
He seemed mildly disorientated so we quickly got him on our trolley and into the back of the ambulance. We checked him out to make sure that he didn't have any stab wounds – it's a bit of a hazard round my way, especially considering not all stabbings get reported by the media.
The police tried to get some details off him, but he said he was in too much pain, so we told them that we would meet them down at the hospital where he might be a bit more cooperative.
His behaviour was a little 'off', he'd been drinking, but was possibly showing signs of concussion or maybe something more serious.
I got into the front of the ambulance and started towards hospital.
Within seconds the man was up and swinging his fists at my crewmate, slamming on the handbrake I ran round to the back of the ambulance and managed to restrain him.
His confusion seemed to have become more severe, he couldn't remember what had happened to him and he kept repeating the same questions. Every so often he would look at his hands, see the blood and start asking us why we had hit him.
He alternated between calm and very agitated, he kept refusing to go to hospital and kept fighting us to get out.
Here is were we get into the thorny issue of Consent and Capacity. I can't kidnap people off the street, not if they have Capacity (the understanding to refuse).
However in the case of someone who cannot understand the consequences of refusing treatment and may have life or limb threatening injuries then I can try to 'force' them to go to hospital. For example, someone hit by a car who has a serious brain injury causing them to fight us off may be dragged off to hospital as they don't have the Capacity to refuse.
Needless to say, it's not something that I like doing.
What we were worried about with this patient was that he had been beaten so hard that he had a bleed on his brain, it was this which could have been causing his strange behaviour and which could prove fatal. He wasn't able to understand the consequences of what was happening to him, nor of what would happen if he didn't have treatment – he was having trouble remembering his name let alone anything more complicated.
He needed to go to hospital and in our opinion he didn't have the Capacity to refuse.
Unfortunately the police had left the scene (they needed to in order to allow us to get to hospital) so there was no help there. Every so often he would try wrestling with us and he only got stronger. My crewmate called Control for urgent police assistance, normally they would come running to help, but for twenty minutes we were bounced around the inside of the ambulance as he tried to hurt us while we tried to not hurt him.
He also had the strength of an angry man, while we had to remain calm.
Don't get me wrong, if someone tries to assault me because they are drunk, obnoxious or just plain nasty then they will get reasonable force used on them and they'll be throw off my ambulance – but with someone who is apparently not in his right mind I can't exactly knee him in the testicles.
Twenty minutes we wrestled with him while waiting for the police – we didn't want to move because otherwise the police wouldn't be able to find us to help – but after all this time it seemed that we weren't going to get the help that we had urgently called for. By now the sweat was dripping down my body, I was covered in his blood and he'd managed to get a few good scratches and punches in. Thankfully my glasses were intact.
I managed to restrain him enough for my crewmate to drive us to hospital. There was a bit of a stand-off at one point where he kept threatening me, but I managed to keep him controlled.
Unfortunately as my crewmate opened the doors to the ambulance he managed to break past me as by now I was exhausted, sore and feeling sick from the exertion. He burst through the doors and ran down the road after waving goodbye and shouting 'sorry for hurting you'.
I wasn't going to chase him, to be honest I don't think I had the energy in me to chase him even if I'd wanted to.
The police officers at the hospital came over to see what were happening and after telling them they offered to arrest him. I've read enough police blogs to realise that if they did arrest him it'd be a load of paperwork and wasted time for the CPS only to decide no further action because my patient probably wasn't in his right mind.
We spoke to an officer who suggested a ten minute cup of tea, before seeing the expression on my face and realising that sending us home for the last few hours of our shift was for the best. So we returned to the station, filled in the relevant paperwork cleaned up the warzone that was the back of our ambulance, wiping the blood off the walls and cupboards and fixing the chair that had been battered in the struggle.
And so I sit here typing this, in pain not because of any great injury – but because my entire body aches from twenty minutes of extreme exercise, I'm walking like a cripple and the grip has gone from my hands. I suppose that I'm just reaping the consequences of not having the chance to do regular exercise. I'm hoping that he didn't have anything nasty in his blood. And I'm off work for a bit due to my inability to walk like a normal person.
£10 per hour after tax doesn't seem enough for this sort of work.
For those concerned about the patient, I believe that another ambulance and police team-up managed to get him to hospital – the further results of which I don't know about.
As for the police not attending our urgent request for help… I spoke to our Control and she told me that she used both the Scotland Yard line and the dedicated line and on both occasions she thinks the phone was picked up by the cleaner rather than someone who actually knew how to answer a phone and dispatch police officers. I believe the phrase she used was 'some civilian numpty' – I think that a complaint from our Control has already gone in to the police.