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?