The first job of Friday night was to a little old lady (actually, she wasn’t that little). She had been standing on her bed with her daughter to fix the curtains when she’d felt dizzy and fell down. She then bounced off the bed and landed on the floor. Unfortunately for her, she had landed on her neck and head.
One of the first things that I do in a case like this is to make sure that there isn’t an injury to the neck. I’ll do this by gently feeling the neck while the patient tells me if it is sore. If there is soreness to one side of the neck then this will normally be a muscular injury while if the pain is in the middle of the neck then there is a chance that the injury is more serious. Like a broken neck.
This woman nearly leapt from her bed when I gently touched her neck – she had a potentially serious neck injury.
So we needed to be extremely careful in order to make sure that if the patient had broken her neck, we wouldn’t make her injury worse by bouncing her down the stairs from her flat to the ambulance. Unfortunately everything we had to tell the patient had to be translated by the daughter. I need to learn Bengali, it’s a real shame I have no head for languages.
The patient had to be moved down the bed so that our scoop stretcher could go under her – then she needed to be securely strapped onto the stretcher ready to be carried downstairs. In this case, and with shades of the last post, I used a blanket roll to secure her head rather than the more expensive and less effective head blocks. We called for another crew to give us a hand because in a case like this it is better to be safe than sorry, and you need to be careful carrying a potentially unstable neck fracture down two flights of stairs.
We were all really impressed with the neatness and effectiveness of the strapping. I wanted to take a photo of it because it doesn’t often look as good as it did with that job.
As mentioned, she wasn’t too light, and it’s really tricky to maneuver a six foot long orthopaedic stretcher out onto a balcony, around half the building and down two flights of stairs. At one point we had to suspend the poor woman’s head over the balcony in order to get her around the awkward architecture of her building – pretty lucky that she wasn’t looking down at that point…
The job itself went like clockwork.
My back however was starting to hurt from the less-than-safe lifting that we needed to do to get the woman out her flat and into the ambulance.
A couple of ‘nothing’ jobs – coughs, colds and belly-aches.
We got to around midnight when we were sent on a call for a “17 year old male, has a knife, cutting wrist, suicidal”. As it was in the street I thought that we’d go and have a look – if he was violent then we could soon drive off and await the arrival of the police.
The young man was lying on the floor, his left hand was covered in blood and there were already two policemen there. They looked happy to see us.
A quick assessment later and it turned out that the patient had nearly severed his left little finger. He was covered in blood and refusing to say anything except that he wanted to die. I managed to get a ‘quick and nasty’ bandage on his hand while the police and I wrestled with him. He wasn’t very happy with being put into the ambulance and once inside fought with us like a man possessed. Blood was everywhere, he was trying to bite us and the police had to handcuff him (which for some reason, probably paperwork, they really don’t like doing). It took the three of us struggling with him to get him to hospital and when he reached the department there needed to be six police guarding him in the psychiatric room.
He was, to use an ambulance service technical medical phrase, “Proper mad”.
I felt sorry for the fellow – he didn’t ask to go out of his gourd.
I also felt pain.
Pain in my back.
While fighting with the patient in the back of the ambulance I had somehow wrenched by back and the whole right side of my body was in pain.
So we went back to station, I filled out the required paperwork and went home. I stayed home for the next two nights, partly due to the pain and partly due to a desire on my part to avoid exacerbating the injury.
I’m better now.
I’m also on a week off work due to my rota. I may be writing a bit, I may be getting around to answering a load of email.
I may be down the pub.