Yesterday, while sitting on Standby (a concept I'll explain later in the week), I was reading the paper, listening to a bit of music when I heard a job go out on the radio that chilled my blood.
“Three children, suspended”.
It turned out to be a fire at a house, well out of my area, where there were actually five casualties – going from what I overheard on the radio, an RRU was sent along with five ambulances and a doctor in a a car. Watching local news a little later it turns out that the three children are all in “critical, but stable” condition.
There is always a bit of radio chatter – and you listen to it with half an ear, if only because you are curious about what other people are getting up to – but the thought of three children being dead (and perhaps being the first person on the scene) soon brings what is going on over the radio into sharp focus.
Yesterday, I had ten jobs – and Control had a nasty habit of letting me roam untouched around the area for an hour, but as soon as I wanted to return to use the toilet, they would have me bouncing from job to job.
The first couple of jobs were in nursing homes, the usual story of patients who 'weren't eating', or 'have a cough' – patients, who, when I turned up, would not so much be knocking on death's door, but were instead halfway down death's hallway, hanging up their coat.*
Then came a couple of 'standard' chest pain patients, people with angina who, for whatever reason, were having cardiac chest pain. While this is a medical emergency, it's a medical emergency we are all very well practiced at and is one of our regular jobs.
As the day went on, the calls I went to got slightly more silly, the patient with diarrhea that I got given as a 'Chest Pain' (thus warranting a RRU response), another patient who had chest pain after vomiting for the past two days (obviously just an upset stomach and heartburn from the vomiting), and a man who had dark black stool and was worried that his bleeding ulcer had returned (even though he had just been put on iron tablets – the side effect of which is…you guessed it, black stools).
To be fair this last patient was very nice, very polite, and just hadn't been told that this could be a side effect of his new medication – once more the ambulance service was picking up the slack from the family doctors.
I did have a 'fire' call – someone who had been in the flat above a pan fire – everyone was unhurt, the Helicopter ambulance was cancelled before they managed to take off – and I was left feeling very glad that I didn't have to deal with – “Three children, suspended”.
*Nicked from Alan Moore