One of the ‘problems’ with working on the Rapid Response unit is, because you are so ‘rapid’, you can often find yourself first, and only, responder on a job where you would much rather have a large number of ambulance crews.
I’m thinking specifically of the RRU who was first, and only, paramedic on the scene of the recent London bombings.
I got sent on a job to one of our main roads, given as ‘car vs bus’, I thought that it couldn’t be too bad, as the speed of traffic on that stretch of road is about 4mph.
The police have already gotten the area taped off, and there is minor damage to the front of the bus.
Sitting some way away, nudged up against a shop, is a blue car. The first thing that hits me is that there is no way that an impact that does such little damage to a bus, spins a car through 180 degrees and throws it against a shop.
(I later realise that what has probably happened, is that that the bus has clipped the car – the driver has then hit the accelerator and driven over the kerb, ending up ramming the shop).
“Hi”, says a friendly policewoman, “there is a full term pregnant adult female with a head injury, a baby that she was carrying on her lap and six other children, none of which had seatbelts on”.
“Gaa!”, I mumble.
I get onto Control, “I’m going to need at least three ambulances”.
I go to check on the woman – she is pregnant, wasn’t wearing her seatbelt and ‘bullseyed’ the windscreen. She has the world’s tiniest cut to her head, and minor stomach cramps.
To ‘bullseye’ a windscreen, the head hits the glass and causes a distinctive ringed crack pattern. There is often hair left in the glass.
A quick examination, and I’m happy she hasn’t broken her neck, and actually not that badly injured. There is nothing much to do with her.
A very quick look over the multitude of children standing around shows a swollen lip on one of them, but probably nothing serious.
A female police officer is holding the 18 month baby, “I keep stroking his cheek and he keeps waking up and crying”, she tells me.
I take a closer look…seems a bit pale.
He also looks a bit ‘floppy’.
I stroke his cheek.
Not a flicker.
My salvation then comes around the corner. An ambulance. A lovely big, yellow, blue flashing lights and sirens ambulance. An ambulance that can take this child away from me and into hospital where he needs to be.
The police officer and I jog over to the ambulance and I give the quickest hand-over to a crew ever1. They take one look at the child and ‘blue’ it into the hospital. (I later find out that the child was faking it all, and was absolutely fine).
I then have to examine each of the kids to make sure that they aren’t hiding any serious injuries, which thankfully they aren’t. I then recheck the mother of the toddler, explain why her child has gone to hospital without her, and try to keep her calm. While doing this I’m also trying to chat up one of the female police officers (but she’s having none of it).
So I’m kept a bit busy.
I’m also being watched by an increasing crowd of people, who aren’t impressed by the power of police tape, and so want to wander over and offer advice. The police do a good job of shooing these people away, but it is a bit Canute trying to hold back the sea.
Thankfully, there were no serious injuries (although if I had the kit, I’d have liked to have immobilised everyone involved), and the other ambulances soon turned up to ferry away the patients.
My paperwork consisted of one report form with “Multiple patients” written on it, and a description of what I’d seen and done.
Then I went back to station, had a cup of tea and then got sent on a job on the edge of my patch, described as “12 year old female, collapse”…
1.Apart from the time my handover was a disdainful, “the patient has a verruca”.2
2.Incidentally, also the shortest triage note I ever wrote when an A&E nurse.