Other Side

I’ve had cause to realise another reason why I enjoy working for the ambulance service as opposed to working as an A&E nurse.

I was woken from my sleep at eleven in the morning by a phone call from my mum.

“I’m really ill, I can’t stand up – please come over”, she sounded really scared.

I rushed over to my mum’s house, as I walked in the door, and saw her sitting in her armchair I thought she was dead, she was pale, and didn’t answer when I called out her name.  Thankfully she wasn’t dead, just a bit deaf.

She had been doing the laundry when she suddenly became dizzy, she’d vomited once, and now was so dizzy that she couldn’t stand up.  Her pulse was slow, and she looked ‘shocked’.

So against her protests I called for an ambulance.

“Look”, I told her, “I get called to people with cut fingers, you are my mum, and you are properly sick – you’re getting an ambulance”.

The calltaker was quick and professional, which is what I would expect and the ambulance was there very quickly.

The ambulance crew were friendly, understanding and professional.  They used the carry chair to get her out to the ambulance, did all the tests that they could do and when she started vomiting again they stuck the blue lights on to get us through heavy traffic.  The attendant spoke to her like a human being, and I could see that she was putting my mum at ease.

We reached the hospital, and this is when I saw the real difference.

The nurse who took handover didn’t even look at my mum, “take her out to the waiting room”, the crew were told.

The ambulance attendant tried to persuade the nurse otherwise, but the nurse was adamant.

So we ended up out in the waiting room, with my mum unable to move.  All the time the ambulance crew were apologetic.

It took three hours before she was treated, and to be fair the doctor was excellent.


As an ambulance crew, with one patient, you can give your full attention to that one person.  You can care for the patient, and if you are ill and scared that is often the best thing that you can do for them.  You have that chance to do a bit of hand-holding, which can often be a great treatment.

As a nurse in an A&E department, all you seem to have time for is moving ‘patient X’ through the system before your four hour time limit is up.  You don’t have the time to care for the patient, only to give them drug X, treatment Y, and get them out as soon as possible.

So this is why I like ambulance work – it gives me the chance to act like a nurse.  Something I never had the chance to do when I was employed as a nurse.

Mum was fine after treatment – It turned out to be her arthritic neck, coupled with muscle spasms causing spinal nerve stimulation, an uncommon complaint but the doctor recognised it pretty much straight away.  She’s fine now.

I’ll answer the previous post (about our new role) tomorrow.


12 thoughts on “Other Side”

  1. Glad to hear your mum is ok, must have been a worry for the both of you. Appreciated your point of view, as ever it is enlightening and illuminating.Sage

  2. Whew! Glad to hear yer Mum's all right, and it's not a symptom of something bigger and scarier. I know you and Robert will take good of her. 😉

  3. cripes, glad to hear your mum is okay.All due praise to doctors, to nurses, to ambulance staff… but also to the caring relatives and friends who help vulnerable people access those services

  4. So glad your mum is OK. You are right about the difference it makes when people are treated as individuals and not just as a sum of their illnesses. So important.

  5. Glad your Mom is ok – can totally empathise about individual care. Have you had time to read Community Care recently?Glenda

  6. As Reynolds said, his mum was properly sick. Properly sick people need caring for on the way to hospital. That's what ambulances are for – one crewmember drives, the other cares for the patient. If Tom was driving and his mum's condition got worse, he wouldn't have been able to do anything. (And besides, the fact she was taken to the ambulance in a carry chair suggests she couldn't manage to walk out by herself).The calls Tom complains about attending are those for people who have no medical need for an ambulance, it sounds like this certainly wasn't one of those cases.

  7. Exactly.Unable to stand without me and the attendant helping her, unable to walk at all (so needed a chair), Getting her into my tiny car would have been a joke.

    Plus I was worried that she was having some form of neurological problem, and didn't want her dying of a stroke in my back seat.

    (Heh – I suppose it was neurological as well)

    Let me put it this way – If I'd turned up to this job, I would have put it down as a 'genuine job.'

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