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…