It seems that this week is turning into a bit of a ‘confession’ about how I sometimes deal with patients.
I was sent to a twelve year old whose hand had been burnt. The address that we were given was in the street, so we could expect anything.
Outside the local newsagents was a group of ‘feral children’ eight or nine of them aged 10–13 I’d say – I told my crewmate who was driving that we would ‘scoop and run’, as it was near the end of our shift and there was no way that I wanted to try and control a bunch of little thugs.
“Who’s the patient”, I asked as I jumped out the ambulance – I’d already spotted one lad holding his thumb, sure enough he identified himself as the patient.
“Ok then, on the ambulance”, I opened the door and bundled him in.
About six of the other children all wanted to come with him – I wasn’t going to hang about to argue so, after discovering that there was no relative or adult present, we made our way to the hospital.
The child had decided to spray some deodorant into a glass jar, then drop a match in it. As the fumes caught light his hand had received a minor, but painful searing. The skin wasn’t even red.
Still – we have a nice burns dressing that smells lovely and can ease the pain so I wrapped his hand in one and asked him why he had done such a daft thing.
“Dunno”, was this particular scientists answer.
I told him, in no uncertain terms that playing silly buggers with chemicals and fire would only lead to him getting even more hurt – would it do any good? Well I doubt it, but surely it’s worth a try.
Here comes the confession – I was a little ‘short’ with him. Not only do I think that a “there, there, everything will be alright” approach would have been wasted on him, but I also wanted to make sure that he knew exactly what an idiot he’d been. I wanted to embarrass him, I wanted him to pay attention and most of all I didn’t want him doing similar things in the future. There may have been some sarcasm, hopefully he’ll remember that more than if I’d been all motherly towards him.
My brother is a teacher – he uses sarcasm when needed to control his classes, he can be nice and he can be a right evil sod, it all depends on the child and on the situation. So on that day I took a leaf out of his book.
I just hope that I don’t end up returning to that child after he’s torched his parents house.