Asthma And Allergies

While I don't really 'do' guilt, I did feel a little troubled by last nights work. While all our ambulances were racing around East London, run off their feet, I spent the majority of the night unused, sitting on station. Apparently a dearth of Category A calls.
Personally, I'd rather be working for my money.

The first job of my night was to an asthmatic woman, who was also, judging by her paintings on the walls of her, spotless, house, a rather good artist.

I hate asthmatics. Actually that's wrong, I've got nothing against people who have asthma – it's just that I've seen more than a few asthmatics 'go off', which means that their condition gets a lot worse very quickly. There is very little scarier than seeing someone deteriorate before your eyes. Normally it is the nice patients who wait until they are seriously ill before calling an ambulance – so they will struggle for breath for a couple of hours, before calling us out.

Please, if you are having trouble with your breathing and your inhalers aren't working, then call us out. We can give you the right medicine, and if you improve then you won't need to go to hospital. It also gives us a nice fuzzy feeling to actually help someone for a change, rather than act as a glorified taxi.

So I walked into the patient's house, and could hear her wheezing from down the hallway. She was having real trouble in forming sentences, which is a priority symptom – so I wasted no time in giving her a Salbutamol nebuliser, which is a medicine we give to 'open up' the patient's lungs.

Thankfully she responded well to the medicine, and as the ambulance was only a minute or two away, she got a nice quick trip into the local hospital.

My second job was to a three week baby which had, over the space of a couple of hours, developed a general red rash over his face and body. The baby was black, which always makes assessment of rashes tricky, black people come in a variety of 'shades' and without knowing what the child looked like before the rash started, it's hard to tell how severe the rash is.

It doesn't help that I'm not the worlds expert on rashes.

The first thing I always tell a parent about a child's rash is whether it is meningitis or not, as this is normally the first thing on their mind. In this particular case, the rash looked like a mild allergic reaction to some substance and after talking to the child's mother, and eliminating the normal suspects (washing powder, baby bath, cleaning wipes) we decided to lay the blame at the feet of a friend who had visited mother and child wearing a very strong perfume.

Now, there is a major problem with being on the Rapid Response Unit when everyone is busy – there are no ambulances to send to actually transport the patient.

So for 45 minutes I had to make small talk with the mother until an ambulance became free to be sent to me.

Control Desk did however phone me up to make sure that everything was alright, and that we didn't need an ambulance as a priority. I'm not supposed to transport patients in the car, as it's not really equipped to carry anyone other than me – but even if I had decided to ignore that rule, I couldn't really justify taking a baby carried in it's mothers arms as a safe thing to do.

Especially with my driving…

25 thoughts on “Asthma And Allergies”

  1. gggrrrr, great blog, but please, please learn how to use apostrophes.It's simple: 'it's' only ever means 'it is' or 'it has'. If your meaning is: 'belonging to it' or 'of it' you need 'its'.

    'it's mothers arms' means 'it is mothers arms'. What you wanted to say was: 'its mother's arms' ie, the baby's (its) mother's (belonging to the mother) arms.

    Otherwise, a really enjoyable blog.

    Best wishes from a sub-editor who is a great admirer of emergency workers.

  2. It's not grammar that makes your blog wonderful, Tom. If that's all it took to be a writer then sub-editors would be authors. Don't let these people bring you down.

  3. MehMaybe it's because I write at bizarre hours of the morning, maybe it's because I've not studied English since I was at school many, many years ago. Possibly it's because my job doesn't involve looking for errant apostrophes that occasionally one will slip past me.

    Just call me a wild trailblazer, forging my way through a new form of English.

    So, how do you edit a submarine?

  4. hey, I really do rate this blog and have been logging on for some time. I really do admire people who do work such as yours. I'm sorry if I come across as a nit-picker, but you are not trailblazing some new form of English, just writing English that doesn't make sense but would do if you followed a few simple rules.

  5. Oh, I'm not bothered. It's not as if I have ever held myself up as an exemplar of grammar.Nice call on the lack of capitalisation though…

    Mmmmm Pizza, what a good idea.

  6. Jeez – people like 'grrr' give the editors among us a bad name. This editor happens to think your blog is fantastic and sneaks in daily when the uber-editors aren't looking. Bugger the apostrophes and just keep doing what you do, Reynolds – it's brilliant.NZ Nic

  7. Jeez – people like 'grrr' give the editors among us a bad name. This editor happens to think your blog is fantastic and sneaks in daily when the uber-editors aren't looking. Bugger the apostrophes and just keep doing what you do, Reynolds – it's brilliant.NZ Nic

  8. Yes, bugger the apostrophe! Literally! (Oooh, don't get me started!)Oh, and Tom, whilst I'm here, have you done something to truncate your RSS feed deliberately? Only half of it shows in my browser which is muchos annoyingos. I've already lost Neil McTosh's feed, and A Gentleman's Commonplace's feed to excerpts, and it would muchly distresseth me if your blog were to goeseth the same way.

    That said, could just be Blogware having a weird moment. My blog wasn't producing so much as a fart in the RSS for a while, although it seems ok now.

  9. Interesting night tom. Any thoughts on moving back to working with a partner? Are you in a Category A response unit for a fixed period of time?My training/work starts in just 2 weeks! A week of general orientation at the MAS head office then down to university for 14 weeks. To say I'm climbing up the walls at home waiting is an understatement.

  10. Kids with rashes are tough, especially if they are too young to talk to you about what preceeded the onset. One thing I always keep in mind with very young kids, especially breast fed kids, is what has mom eaten lately that is different.As for working for your money, I suspect that your job, like mine, evens out in the end. A slow shift will get paid for later on with a remarkably busy shift.

  11. If all us writers got all our apostrophes in the right place, editors would be out of their jobs. So why do they get so picky? It keeps them in work. I should know – I was a copy-editor myself in a former incarnation!Anyway, what I really wanted to say was thanks for the public service announcement about when to call an ambulance for an asthmatic, because I am one and I've often wondered. I don't get it badly; have only been to hospital with it once; but it feels like a really useful thing to know.

  12. BAH! Someone reads Eats, Shoots and Leaves and thinks they are an expert on punctuation. People are dying of hunger outside their windows and all these people can think of is if an oxford comma is a good idea. I'm preparing a one way trip to Daily Mail Island for the lot of 'em.Just keep writing, no one cares if the apostraphe is in the right place just so long as what you're writing is interesting.

  13. I'm on the RRU until August, although if I got to hate it I could run back to manning up an ambulance. I'm going to stick it out, but when August comes around, I won't be asking to stay on it.Good luck on the training – my suggestion would be to sleep for the next two weeks, training is intensive (well it is in London), so you won't have much time to relax during your training…

    However, it's all worth it, as this is the easiest job in the world.

  14. That's one of the 'usual suspects', I'm constantly surprised that mothers often don't realise that certain foodstuffs can be expressed in breastmilk.(This kiddie was bottle fed, and there was no change there)

    At the end of the day, if it isn't meningitis, and the kids ABC's are alright, then I'm not going to get stressed out by it.

    Even when I'm busy (which to be honest I prefer, as long as I can get the odd cup of tea), it's nothing like the work I used to do as an A&E nurse.

  15. Were you now… I guess that explains why you write so well.It always annoys me when you have someone with a potentially life-threatening problem waiting until the last minute, while people with nothing wrong with them call us at the drop of a hat.

    If your inhaler isn't working, call us – it's an easy job for us, easier than when your breathing gets really bad.

  16. See, now I'm feeling vaguely guilty, because I think I'm the asthmatic you hate. Not personally, I understand, but for the same reasons. But I really didn't want to be a bother! In my defense, it happened suddenly, I wasn't thinking straight, and a friend called for help. But I shall take your plea accordingly and perhaps call more quickly the next time. I certainly moved faster when it happened the next day.

  17. It IS interesting, which is why I keep reading, but it's a bummer to have to read a sentence twice to check on the meaning. It's not difficult to sort the “its” from the “it's” (which I didn't learn at school either). I'm not a wanker about language (who cares about split infinitives?), and it's not life and death (true) but remembering a few simple things helps resolve possible confusion. Obviously, it's not true that “no-one” cares, and if no-one truly did, thn wd b all ritn in txt-spk, ok? L8rs, m8.

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