It's the busiest night of the year for us, as evryone goes out and gets drunk at their work Christmas party. I don't know what's going on at the moment, but it's barely 21:00 and already we are at 3,500+ calls.
We normally do 3,500 calls in a day, so how many more will we squeeze in over the next three hours?
My first job was to and alcoholic having had a fit. A common symptom of being an alcoholic is having fits, I'd say that of the two types of fits that we go to, I tend to see more alcoholic fits, that epileptic fits. I don't have any numbers to prove it, but it just seems right in my experience.
This job was typical. I had to step over the detritus on the carpet, the packets of tobacco, the trainers, the half eaten takeaway container. I saw my patient sitting on a chair, being sick. He was vomiting directly onto the living room floor, his wife didn't see fit to put a bucket under the stream of vomit.
Like a lot of our regular alcoholic customers, he was topless, while his tracksuit bottoms were stained with…well I wouldn't like to guess, but they were stained with something. Homemade tattoos covered his chest, arms and hands, and inbetween bouts of vomiting he would continue making a roll-up cigarette.
“Can I turn the living room light on?”, I asked the wife.
“Don't work”, she said back to me in a voice that I guessed had been arguing with her husband just before I'd arrived.
I guessed this because she then started arguing with him again.
While the living room had a nice stereo, a reasonable televison (satellite included) and a gaming console, they didn't have a lightbulb.
He didn't want to go to hospital, but I always think of the potential headlines in the paper the next day “Ambulance leave patient to die”, so the crew and I persuaded him to go to hospital for a 'check up'.
You know why? No one ever lost their job by taking a patient to hospital.
“I don't want to waste their time”, he mumbled, “I'm just an alcoholic”.
“It's alright mate”, I'd reply, “We look after everyone, even alcoholics”.