It’s a Wednesday night shift, which means that hopefully there won’t be too many drunks roaming the streets. It doesn’t hurt that the weather is, to put it politely, occasionally raining. I shall be writing what I have been doing every time I get back to station – so if this post seems a little disjointed, it’s because it’s been written over twelve hours.
The first job of the night was just on the edge of my ‘patch’, a woman in her thirties suffering from chest pain. In people of this age it’s often related to some form of chest infection. However, when I reached there, the first words out of the relatives mouth was, “She has a heart condition”.
The patient, and her relatives were pleasant to me, but for a person with a serious long-term illness, she didn’t really know a great deal about it. I asked her what sort of problem she had with her heart, and she couldn’t name it, I asked her about the operation that she was waiting for, and again she didn’t know what it was, or what it was for. I had to use my knowledge of hospital treatment (“Did they massage your neck the last time you were in hospital?”) in order to work out her previous medical history.
A shame really, patients should be a bit better clued up on what ails them..
My next call was to a location around 200 yards from my first job, unfortunately I’d managed to get back to the station, so I felt like I was on a rubber band. I was beaten there by the ambulance, so I had little to do apart from making sure that the crew didn’t need my help. The patient had a pretty standard bellyache coupled with a panic attack. I did however manage to practice my reading of Polish drug names, translating them into English.
I got back to station, and while writing the first part of this post started shaking uncontrollably. My legs were weak, and my head was spinning. What was going on?
I checked my blood sugar…
This is a low blood sugar, our guidelines say that we should give sugar treatment if the blood sugar drops below 4.0 mmols.
I have no idea why my blood sugar was so low – I’d had a big dinner around my mum’s house just four hours earlier.
So I sucked on some sugar, and then got Control to take me off the road for a bit so that a station mate could drive me to the nearest take away shop so I could ‘fill up’ on some longer term sugars. Chicken chop suey and curry and chips should see me through the night…
I was soon feeling better, so I made myself available for calls. A few minutes later I got sent to one of our regulars, an alcoholic who had been locked out of his hostel for the night, so he claimed to have chest pain and called for an ambulance. As this is my first nightshift, I’m fairly ‘chill’ about this sort of job. There was nothing for me to do apart from chat to him until the ambulance arrived. It wasn’t raining, and he has always been pleasant towards me, so it was an easy job.
My next job was…Trauma! A stabbing to be precise. A young man who had been mugged and stabbed in the leg. Luckily it was a fairly minor wound, and apart from putting a bandage on him, there was little that I could do. The HEMS doctors turned up in their car, and they were quite happy to leave him in my *cough* capable *cough* hands. I only had to wait around 15 minutes for the ambulance.
Then I was sent on a ‘chest pain’ job, but another RRU was there, so it was what we call a ‘duplicate job’, maybe someone up in Control needed a coffee…
A Maternataxi next, she had contractions every 10 or more minutes (and very weak contractions at that) and her membranes were intact. I was on scene for 50 minutes waiting for an ambulance to turn up. I was getting so bored that I actually considered reading my ‘Agenda for Change’ booklet. Apparently there were eight calls in the area waiting for ambulances.
On the way back to station (for a well deserved emptying of my bladder…) I came across one of our ‘make-ready’ people driving an ambulance to the nearby petrol station.
He didn’t realise that he was driving along with both of the back doors open.
As I write this line it is 2am, and I’m conscious that I have 4 and a half hours left to the rest of this shift. I also fancy a cup of tea…
Forty-five minutes later and I’m racing through the streets to an ‘elderly man, unconscious’. He is indeed unconscious when I reach him. Apparently he was asleep with his wife, when he shouted out and became unrousable. This is the sixth, or seventh time that he has done this, and the hospital are supposedly baffled. Observing his recovery (looking scared and confused, ‘plucking’ at his clothes), to me he looks like an epileptic who is in the ‘post-ictal’, after-fit state. The ambulance are thankfully quick to arrive, and he starts to recover as we lift his heavy body down the narrowest flight of stairs I’ve ever seen.
I’m then granted nearly two hours on station, where I have a little doze before being sent out to another elderly man who has been bleeding from his penis for the last 24 hours. A classic example of the ‘I didn’t want to bother you’ brigade, his house is spotless and he has been married to his wife for nearly 60 years. It’s nearly 5am and his wife is dressed as if she were going to a Womens Foundation cake sale. Both are polite and helpful, and more importantly – they laugh at my jokes.
It’s now an hour to go before the end of my shift, and I’m wonder whether to have a cup of tea or not. I don’t want the caffeine keeping me awake when I go home to sleep, but I am rather thirsty.
Perhaps a glass of water?
It has now reached that time in my shift where the next (hopefully last) job is either going to be someone waking up to their elderly, yet very dead, husband – or another maternataxi…
And as if by magic – 12 minutes after writing that line…
Another bloody maternataxi! And this one didn’t want to talk to me, refusing to answer any of my questions. Well, that’s fine, at this time in the morning I don’t particularly want to talk to her…
This time however, the ambulance is a lot quicker to arrive, and I’m left with half an hour until the end of my shift.
Will I get another call?…
The short answer is….No. Instead the day relief came in quarter of an hour early, and has sent me home. By the time this has been posted off, I shall be slumbering peacefully in my bed.
Last night is what I would consider a fairly ‘good’ night, a couple of jobs where people were actually ill, a stabbing (although a rather minor one, needing only assessment and a bandage) and with the exception of waiting fifty minutes on the maternataxi, I wasn’t left high and dry by the lack of ‘proper’ ambulances.
And later tonight, I do it all over again.
And while it will be completely different, it will also be the same.