Why I Keep Telling My Mother That I Would Rather Wear Glasses To Work Than Contact Lenses – Namely Their Protective Quality.

Bloody faceAs the subject line says – it’s so that when I get sprayed in the face with someone else’s blood it goes onto the glasses rather than into my lovely, virus absorbing, eyes.

Apologies for the poor quality of the photo, it’s taken at night with my pda/phone internal camera – if you can’t see it properly…well, I got sprayed with blood.

It was the last job of the shift, pretty much down the road from the hospital – it was given to my crewmate and I as, “Throat cut.  Serious bleeding”.  Now, I’ve been at this game long enough to realise that a cut throat can be anything from a near beheading to a shaving cut.

As an aside, my mate got sent to a ‘stabbing’, it turned out that the landlord of our ‘victim’ had poked him in the chest with a finger…

So we rushed down there, fully prepared to see a man with a slight scratch to his neck, probably from an irate girlfriend.

As we got there, the first few things that I saw made me think that this was a ‘proper’ job.

  • There was someone laying on the floor in the street with a dark puddle of liquid around him.
  • There were two policemen leaning over our patient.
  • The police were looking worried.
  • There was already police ‘incident’ tape strung around the area.

I leapt out the cab of the ambulance, grabbed my response bag and jogged over to the patient while my crewmate parked the ambulance and started getting the stretcher out the back.

…I felt the familiar feeling of someone else’s blood being splattered across my face.

Our patient was an eighteen year old black man, he was covered in blood although thankfully he was screaming.  Screaming is good, it means that you are alive.

The police had saved his life – one of them had bunched up the patient’s t-shirt and was pressing it against the wound.  When I removed the t-shirt to look at the wound I found a small cut under the jaw, but one that had severed an artery (quite possibly the one marked Mylo-hyoid in this diagram).  The wound was still spurting blood at high force which caught us all a little by surprise.

Through this cut of perhaps one inch, the patient had lost about a litre of blood.  Without the quick thinking of the police, he would have bled to death on the scene.  As it was the patient was entering the second stage of shock brought on by lack of blood.  This was serious.

I jammed a couple of dressings on the wound, and knowing that just tying them wouldn’t work I spent the rest of the job applying pressure with both hands while trying to reassure the patient.  It was here that the patient gave a cough and I felt the familiar feeling of someone else’s blood being splattered across my face.  Given the proximity to the hospital we ‘scooped and ran’, putting the patient into the ambulance and blue-lighting it into Newham hospital.

One of the policemen travelled with us.  The patient was, quite understandably,  frightened by his predicament and asked for someone to hold his hand.  As I was clutching the dressings to his face I didn’t have a spare hand – yet the policeman, also covered with the patient’s blood, didn’t hesitate to hold the frightened patient’s hand.

Screaming is good, it means that you are alive.

When we got to the hospital the patient asked if we were all white.  I have no idea what was going through his head to ask that question, perhaps he had been brainwashed to believe that all us white people in uniform don’t give a damn about young black men.  To be honest I hadn’t given it a thought and I doubt that the policeman had either, all we saw was someone who needed our help.

It’s what drives me nuts about the media, and to a certain extent members of the public and ’community leaders’.  Everyone is so quick to jump onto the bandwagon of criticising the police over, for example, a raid where they believed they had good information about a chemical bomb – yet you never seem to hear about the numerous small acts of kindness that they perform daily.

I guess that this is what blogs are good for.

We got the patient to the hospital where he was seen by the trauma team.  The surgeons got a bit splattered by blood themselves, unlike me however they had plastic aprons on.

So then it was a simple case of washing my face and arms, mopping out the back of the ambulance and going home to sleep…

…only to be kept awake by drunken football fans.


And yes – I am playing with drop-quotes on this post.  Let me know what you think, does it make me look like a cheap magazine?

44 thoughts on “Why I Keep Telling My Mother That I Would Rather Wear Glasses To Work Than Contact Lenses – Namely Their Protective Quality.”

  1. Footbal might be a great thing and so is the World Cup, but it's driving me crazy. I'm an EMT living in Cologne, Germany. We mainly do 24 hours shifts and coming home after work being kept awake by football fans honking their horns all day and night isn't such a great thing. Even these before mentioned silicon earplugs aren't that effective and by the way who's going to hear my alarm clock?

  2. The drop quotes look different in Bloglines, I only opened your actual page when you mentioned you'd used them at the end. Before that I thought you'd adopted a rather attractive Chuck Palahniuk style narrative. I rather liked it!

  3. I agree they're “pull-quotes” – I use them myself on articles for web distribution. Not sure I'd use them for a blog though.

  4. 'I guess that this is what blogs are good for'You said it, Tom. This post perfectly highlights why your blog is so good – and so important – for the rest of us to read.

    Keep up the good work – both blogging and saving lives.

    P.S. The drop-quotes look great.

  5. Hope he was ok. God that sounds like a stupid thing to say.The drop-quotes work for things you want to emphasise, but I think you'd better be careful to not over-use them. They don't have to go in every post.

  6. Sorry, got to disagree – the drop-quotes (never knew they were called that) aren't necessary. I imagine they are used in newspapers and magazines to draw my eye towards an article and make me want to read it, but I'm already at your blog because I want to read it.Perhaps you can start marketing trendy-framed “blank” spectacles for EMTs who don't need glasses…

  7. “does it make me look like a cheap magazine?”No, you'll need to change your blog name to something with an exclamation mark at the end. Something like “Bloody Paramecis!” should do. Or “Gosh!”. Then use red blobs and photos of “celebs” with details of how they got their flat stomachs back.

    Job done.

    Usual consultancy fee's fine, thanks.

  8. Of course, that would be wittier if I'd spelled 'paramedics' correctly. And yes, I know, but “Bloody EMTs!” isn't catchy enough ~:0)

  9. You thought perhaps about requesting safety specs as essential “Personal Protective Equipment”? to be honest, I'm suprised you don't already get made to wear them. And if you still don't want to wear contacts, they can be done to prescriptions.

  10. In Canada, we have what is known as PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), such as: gloves, gowns, masks, eye protection…When our ambulances get a call such as the one you described, they are supposed to wear eye protection, and eye glasses are not adequate.

    I wondered if UK has similar types of precautions…instead of leaving it to a worker who may or may not wear seeing eye glasses….?

  11. No, no, no, I was meaning it in the literal sense. The sooner you start your career as a lap dancer the better.Tch! Bloody students … doh!

  12. Not keen on the drop quotes, looks a bit too Tabloid to me. I prefer good spacing and a few pictures.

  13. Re being kept awake at all hours by fans: I just keep thinking back to Tom's line about it being lucky he can't own a gun. That'd be me, for sure. “Sleepless Killer Prowling Cologne” would be the headline. There are times when the truest medals of honor would be for not killing people. (Or, of course, as few as possible.)Don't know about the drop quotes. They're fine first time around, but I can see where they might get a bit old rather quickly. I'd agree with the folks above who said “don't overuse” and “I'd rather see pictures.”

  14. There are remarkable similarities between this event and the Stephen Laurence murder. However, I can't see this case making the headlines for years to come, because of course the white police officers saved a black man's life (with a great deal of help from a paramedic)This is not sexy news and will therefore appear only as a record of how things really are in this blog.

    We were told the other day that West Mids Ambulance Service were not going to allow passengers to travel with patients (in certain circumstances) because of the danger of the vehicle being overweight. This should prove quite interesting when a crew member is stuck in the back of the truck with someone who wants to play up. In normal circumstances, a poilice officer would stay in the back as an escort. Now we will have to follow behind. Someone will end up getting hurt and you can bet your pension it won't be the person who failed to secure a deal to buy ambulance vehicles that were fit for purpose.

  15. good job done there.As an aside Sven, will Rooney be playing from the start tomorrow night? ;-p

    As for the PPE, we have flip down visors for situations when there may be stuff playing around. Very good I hear you cry.

    Only differance is I have the comfort of taking as much time over the job as I see fit. This, isn't a luxury you have.

    PPE, sounds good, but spends more time hanging up never used.

  16. And of course… glasses are sexy! ;o) Actually, having had a (insert expletive here) patient purposely spit blood into my eye… I seriously considered investing in a pair of those oh-so-attractive secondary school style chemistry lesson goggles…And yes, the quotes look ok… but they do break up the text a bit which is slightly annoying… I'm not really a magazine reader though.

  17. I just thought, u must have a thing about other peoples body fluids. First it was vomit in ur mouth and now blood in yer face – whats next?!?

  18. Oh. Drop Quotes. I read it as Drop Caps and had to look at it twice to see what you mean.I even opened it in IE thinking mozilla had not rendered the Drop caps correctly!

    I tend to treat all those boxes that the text flows around as adverts and blot them out.

    A great posting, you are, as always : At the bleeding edge of humanity.

  19. You don't need drop-quotes. It looks like you need to sell me something. Your stories don't need this, they speak for them self and hit me more then sometimes. And yes glasses are better then nothing.

  20. What caused the lac?No on the drop quotes, they do look a bit out of place on a blog and, really, I'm here to read the whole post anyway! I'm not skimming so I don't need my attention grabbed!

  21. “I am playing with drop-quotes on this post. Let me know what you think, does it make me look like a cheap magazine?”I think your punctuation does that without any help. And, Jesus, you're no oil painting, are you?

  22. Another good job done — and particularly well done to the policemen concerned. Re the drop quotes: in bloglines (and maybe generally on RSS?) they tend to confuse things, as they appear in plain text mid-way through the article. As a result, you get an uncanny feeling of dj vu upon reading the same text again further on, as the quotes have broken up the continuity in the post! I think they detract from your high quality of writing.

  23. Better without the 'drop quotes' thanks… They disrupt the v gripping flow of the narrative style you tend to use.And erm, they make it a lot easier for passing employers to suss out that this isn't a work-related site that is being read during working hours! That first quote for example… god only knows what the boss thinks I'm browsing as a result of seeing that sentence in large letters as he walked past : D

  24. I always understood that the quotes are called “Pull Quotes” – that is the name they are described as in desktop publishing when producing newspapers etc – I agree the use of them is fine, but be aware of the effect they have on the layout of the document, as sometimes the scrolling is affected. They are good and usefull, but the old adage “less is more” is also true hereSteve

  25. Take as much time as u see fit. Either way – known or unknown – there could be bloodborne pathogens u might be dealing with.If ur PPE hangs nicely on ur wall, then I guess u don't value ur life, or ur families (if u have one).

    You should treat all patients as potentially infectious – and not be such a pompous prick.

  26. Well it's certainly a good use for glasses. The quotes are nice but dont overuse them otherwise it'll end up seeming a bit cheesy. Nice blog by the way.

  27. First impression on the pull quotes was that I liked them – I'm used to seeing them and using them in print.On reflection your blog doesn't need them. I don't need to be pulled into your blog and it isn't a big sheet of unbroken text like a long newspaper article. They look quite pretty and trendy – but I'd say you're better off without them.

    Hope your patient is recovering.

    Do you get much in the way of feedback? Gratefull ex patients/ex patients' relatives thrusting wads of notes/bunches of flowers/baskets of fruit into your hands, or even just hospital staff passing on comments about your part in recoveries? We occasionally see heartwarming “victim thanks ambulance crew” stories in the paper. I don't remember you ever mentioning anything like that. Seems odd that, having saved someones life, they don't get round to sending you a note or the regulation box of chocs!

    Maybe I'm just a bit old fasioned but we were always taught to say “thank you” when someone saved our lives!!

  28. Depends on where in Cologne you live I suppose. I live in Kalk and can't complain actually.Yesterday was bad, though. And I found it quite funny, whereever I went I heard English and saw English flags. I went to bed at 11PM (as I was knackered) and there was nothing. Where about do you live? Are you German?

  29. I live in the City near the Media Park. I'm glad I was on duty yesterday and not on Monday. Even in the more rural area where I worked yesterday the people went crazy… Definitely no good time for a lie-down.No wonder you saw so many English fans, they sent the English troops to the right bank and the Swedish to the left.

    And actually yes I'm German, but I'm going to join Tom's Service in September. Hopefully there are more colleagues like Tom!

  30. I would appreciate your idea. ;-)Tom seems to be quite peaceful, – my thoughts related more to a bazooka than a gun…

  31. Hey, your English is pretty good for a German *LOL*So I'll write to you in German (haha), wait:

    Wenn du dort wohnst ist es ja auch kein Wunder, du.. Da ich zZ in England und nicht in Koeln bin verpass ich den Spass ja leider aber meine Freundin erstattet mir immer schoen Bericht. Hab sogar n Kumpel, der im Stadium war gestern, der hat sich ohne Scheiss in Schweden Trikot angezogen.

    For which service do you work then? As far as I know it's the fire brigade in Central Cologne who provide the “RTWs”, isn't it? And how dare you leave us and go to the LAS? The NHS can't pay better 🙂 Verraeter!! *LOL*

    Wenn du magst gib mir ma deine addy dann schreib ich dir mal (besser als hier) ok

    And you guys in London up there, whatever you do: don't mention the war 🙂

  32. Drop quotes aren't necessary and, TBH, look a little egotistical to me. They're useful for quoting someone else in an article, but to quote yourself seems a bit off.Like they all said, I'm here to read you because I know it'll be quality stuff, I don't need pulling in.

  33. When I hear about infection through blood in the eye, all I can think of is the roadblock scene in 28 Days Later, where the father gets it.

  34. Oh, man, you got me laughing so much with these last few posts, and I am not sure if it's more you, or more me doing too many hours at work.Waited in the ER for a pt with “stab wounds to the neck.” And waited. And waited. Trauma surgeon says “It'll be nothing.” Information trickles in, alcohol involved, pt went to regional hospital and was flown out to our Trauma I hospital, on a Friday evening. Sure enough, a half-assed suicide attempt, other hospital didn't even look under the EMT's dressings, superficial cuts, no serious bleeding, resident took over to stitch up cuts in the ER. Friday dumping.

    Gods, why do I do this? Oh, yeah, sometimes I get to help.

  35. You're right the fire brigade is the provider, but a lot of ambulances are crewed by the Order of Malta, the Red Cross, St. John and the Samaritans (usually also no voluntary crews). I used to work in Cologne but now I'm employed by a Fire Brigade near by. In fact I love to work in the A&E Service and the job opportunities are better in the UK. The NHS pay isn't worse at least not for paramedics. Last but not least I love London! Can't wait! Verrter hin oder her…Hab's hier lang genug ausgehalten! ;-)It would be nice to hear from you: venturer@gmx.de

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