Today was typical, in that the jobs we did veered from interesting to dull, and from heartwarming to heartbreaking.
As an example of how one job can be different from another, we found ourselves attending an elderly man who was looked after by his daughter and son-in-law. They lived in Portugal, but when he had became ill they had moved back to England to look after him. The house was spotlessly clean, as was our patient, there was real love in the house, and they obviously cared deeply for him. He was generally a bit poorly after a fall earlier in the day, so we took him to hospital for a check-up. Straight after that job, we ended up going to a pair of alcoholics living in squalor, where one of the pair had fallen over while drunk and had cut their ear. The patient later said that his partner had punched him, and that is why he had a cut ear, that and she had also kicked him in the stomach.
This is the fun bit of this job, we go from loving families to quarrelling drunken couples.
We had a bit of a 'trauma' with a victim of a hit and run. The patient was crossing the road, when he got hit by a car, bounced up onto the bonnet and ended up in the middle of the road. Luckily he wasn't hurt in a life threatening way, but he did have a broken arm (for the medics in the audience, or those who can use Google, the patient had a simple transverse fracture of the mid-shaft humerus). He didn't have any other injuries – which in my book makes him rather lucky, especially considering the speed that cars can get up to down that particular road.
What was particularly interesting was that, although the man was laying in the middle of the very busy road, only a bus, and one bystander had stopped, the bystander was making sure that he didn't get hit by any other cars. People were so unbothered that at one point I had buses rushing past my head as I treated him. You'd think people might slow their driving a little when swerving around an ambulance parked in the middle of the road with all it's lights flashing…
But not around here they don't.
We also went to a 'Fire job', where a mother had left a 7 year old, a 5 year old and a 2 year old locked alone in a house while she popped out for some fruit. A small fire had started, and the children had only been saved when a neighbour walked past and saw the kids crying at the window, and the orange flicker of flames in the background. He broke the window and saved the children. The mother was, perhaps unsurprisingly, distraught. A moment of carelessness nearly cost her children their lives. The quick thinking of the neighbour had meant that the children were completely unharmed, so I hope he gets a nice write up in the local papers.
The final job of the day was to a 'nursing' home – the patient had apparently developed a bony lump under her hip. The staff thought that she may have broken her hip – but as the patient is bed-bound, and no-one admitted dropping her it would be a very suspicious fracture. I had a look at the supposed 'fracture' and couldn't see anything unusual, the patient was just extremely frail. The patient was suffering from dementia, and when I examined her properly, was also rather dehydrated. So we took her into hospital – along with a 'carer' from the home. All throughout the transport the patient was scared, so I did my best to look after her, hold her hand, talk to her – that sort of thing. During this the 'carer' stared out the window of the ambulance and didn't say a word apart from worrying that she would have trouble being relieved when her shift was finished.
When we left the patient at the hospital I told the 'carer' (can you see why I put 'carer' in quotes?) that her job now was to “hold her hand, talk to her and reassure her because she would be scared in this unusual place. In fact it gives you a chance to do that caring thing that you don't have time to do normally”.
I think she knew I was a bit angry at her – but she did as I said, so maybe she got the point.
Another 12 hour shift tomorrow – then (hopefully) I'll have a day or two off, when I can sleep and perhaps manage to fix my laptop.
If the above post doesn't make any sense then tough, I'm knackered and all the Red Bull in the world can't make me into a Hemingway.