First off, I'm bloody knacked, frazzled, chin-strapped, and generally tired. If I ramble just poke me in the ribs with a stick.
Today was both bloody awful and rather good fun, which despite sounding like the ramblings of a madman is a perfectly sane way to describe today, although I'll be glad for today to be over.
The day started badly, I woke 3 minutes before my alarm was due to go off – so I turned it off and woke for the second time 10 minutes before my shift was about to begin. I didn't get much sleep last night so I suspect my body overruled my brain to give me an extra 50 minutes of sleep.
Luckily when I wake up with an adrenaline jolt like that I can get washed, dressed and speeding through the streets of Newham like Linford Christie on meth-amphetamine.
Turning up at the station I found out that my regular crewmate was ill, and instead a 'Team Leader' was being sent to work with me. Team Leaders are on the lowest rung of management – they are the people who are supposed to keep 'the troops' in trim, and so spend considerable time moaning about the speed at which we get to jobs, and the poor quality of our paperwork. I'm of the belief that if management don't know about me, I can't get in any trouble – so working with a new Team Leader was something I was less than happy with.
I had barely gotten to say hello to 'Team Leader' than we got our first call of the day, a 'suspended' (cardiac arrest) a couple of miles from station. Manoeuvring a big yellow taxi through rush hour traffic is no fun at the best of time, but as I was driving I gave it my best shot – we got to the scene shortly after our First Responder who was already bagging and giving CPR to an obese woman in her eighties. As we were in one of the new yellow ambulances I lowered the tail lift, got the trolley out and nearly ruptured myself lifting the patient onto the trolley bed. Rolling her out to the street, we got her on the tail lift and raising it, rolled her into the back of the ambulance. All that was left was for me to raise the tail lift and rush to hospital.
You may notice I spent some time discussing the tail lift – this is because as I went to lift it, the hydraulics failed and it was stuck, sticking 7ft out from the rear of the ambulance at a height of about 4 foot from the floor.
I gave it a kick, a shake and then resigned myself to manually lifting the bloody thing up, all while the crying relatives were watching me pumping the manual handle like an idiot. Finally it was raised to the closed position, so I made my way rapidly to hospital while 'Team Leader' and 'First Responder' worked on the patient on the back. I'll not mention the road closure than forced me to make a painfully wide detour, but otherwise we reached the hospital with some speed where the woman was unsurprisingly declared deceased.
After a quick tidy-up of the back of the ambulance (which after a cardiac arrest always looks like a bomb-site) we got a job to a 'unwell child'. The 15 month old child was indeed unwell although not life threateningly so. The assessment was made harder by the mother having very poor English and the child having 'Development Delay' – which encompasses a multitude of syndromes and genetic/biological causes.
The next job was a transfer from the local maternity department to a maternity department in another county. This is a hospital that I had no idea how to get to (the details of why there was a need for transport are too boring to go into, also I think I might say something about the mother I'd regret in the morning). I set our travel computer to give me directions to the hospital and we set off. The journey was supposed to be 9.8 miles, but after following the computers directions to the letter we had travelled 37 miles along rather crowded motorways.
We had taken 30 minutes longer than we had planned. It's the last time I trust that bloody machine. 'Team Leader' was not happy at the computer but we laughed it off.
The next job was a simple maternity which we drove into the London Hospital – this was fine until I managed to drive into another ambulance when trying to leave the hospital. No damage to my ambulance, and minor damage to the other, but as my first accident in over 18 months, it was obvious that it would happen when 'Team Leader' was sitting next to me…
Returning to fill in the accident paperwork, Control asked us to attend to another call – this time it was an obese unconscious 70 year old female. She was extremely heavy, and because of her 'floppiness' was a complete dead weight. Once more I nearly killed myself in lifting her. All her body functions and observations were normal so it was a complete mystery why she was unconscious – although I could confirm that she had been incontinent of urine…
…after I put my arm in it.
All these problems throughout the day meant that we worked harder than we needed to – and yet, throughout the day we had a great time as we laughed and joked between patients and vowed never to work together again. I said that I'd take sick leave, saying I was 'stressed' and 'Team Leader' said she would make sure I got sent to the other side of London before she worked with me again.
And so, at the end of the shift we parted, laughing at the thought that it was possible we could be repeating the experience tomorrow.
I'm looking forward to that possibility.