Magic Potions

WoW Reynolds As you may know (if you have ever read this site before), I enjoy a little game called 'World of Warcraft'. For those that don't know about computer games, you take control of a little person, team up with other people and delve into dungeons to kill evil monsters in a fantasy setting1.

One of the essential things that you need to do before your character enters these large dungeons is to make sure that you are carrying a stock of 'health potions', magical drinks that heal the damage that you character may have taken in the aforementioned fighting of monsters.

I can remember to stock up on these life-saving potions, and this is just a computer game2.

So, to translate this into a real world situation if I needed a 'potion' to survive, I'd be damn sure to carry it around with me.

Why then do I find myself going to asthmatics, many of whom are old enough to know better, who let their life-saving inhalers run out? If I were asthmatic I'd make sure that I always had at least two inhalers at all times. Or is there some bizarre flaw in the way these medicines are allocated.

I'm sure that if I were like my last patient (unable to sleep without at least one 'blast' on my inhaler) I'd have one tied around my neck. I could maybe understand it if my patient were a teenager, but this patient is a full grown man.

Oh well, just another mystery for me to ponder.

1For those who play, yes I know this is hugely simplistic

2I'm addicted but I can still call it 'just' a game

51 thoughts on “Magic Potions”

  1. Isn't the issue broader than that, people with chronic conditions (Epilepsy, Asthma, DM etc etc) all seem to do it.Is it denial ?

    Is it refusal to allow themselves to be defined or limited by their condition?

    To me (as someone lucky enough to be in good health) it sounds a bit mad, but then again I don't have to live with the limitations one of these conditions imposes.

    I *can* understand how people not managing their own (manageable) conditions and then expecting other people to pick up the pieces could become more than a little irksome


  2. Boxing Day 2001 (I think); serious gales is SW Scotland; many trees uprooted; Scottish Power subsequently forced to pay kickback to many householders because the company hadn't had a national tree-hacking strategy to forestall activation of the the equation:- “Falling Tree + Power Line = Blackout”. Some households had no electricity for over a week. Locally, the ambulance service was run ragged helping people – dependent on something mains-driven – who hadn't considered what they were going to do if the electricity went down. The commonest were asthmatics whose electric nebulisers wouldn't work; (these machines usually run perfectly well from a 12-volt car battery – if you have kept the lead, and remember where you put it.)Since then, every time I have seen one of these things in a house, I have asked the owner how he/she would cope without mains power, and suggested that they think about it.

    I also learned! I live alone in an isolated cottage. I now have a fireplace I can unblock, with a back boiler which still functions, and 2 tons of anthracite in a bunker; I have a 2.5Kva generator and several jerrycans of petrol; I also have a bottled-gas heater (and cylinders) as well as a Coleman stove. Perhaps I am an extreme case, but a siege mentality can be a handy thing!

  3. The various rules and hoops to jump through for repeat prescriptions is a bugger and a half, and that's even before you get onto the stuff that requires your blood pressure be taken each time it's prescribed and so on, so you have to find time and transport to (a) make an appointment and (b) attend an appointment as well as (c) get to a chemists (and then be told “we don't have that in stock, you can try another chemists or we can order it for you to be here after the weekend…”). I'm not saying it's unreasonable that we have to do this, we're damn lucky the medication is available at all – it's just an additional inconvenience that other people don't have to live with and therefore cannot properly understand how disruptive to a “normal” life it is.Also, I bet when Tom signs into WoW (I prefer KoL myself), he has a little “getting ready to adventure” routine, making sure the right armour is all equipped and buffs/spells are cast and HP/MP are full and buying extra potions (takes two minutes), particularly before attempting big battles.

    However I very much doubts he equips up like that if *all* he is doing that day is going to the store, or hanging about in a chat channel.

    This is pretty much the same reasoning that means that if my boyfriend and I are going away from home for a full day or weekend, we chuck a blanket and a travel-pillow and a torch and a bottle of water and an extra fleece each into the car, and I check my handbag for a whole host of little bits and bobs, including at least one dose more of all my medications than I think I will need for the amount of time we expect to be away, and we make sure of having at least one fully-charged mobile phone between us…

    But if we're just nipping across town in the car to pick up a late-night pizza, then it's more “keys in one pocket, cash in the other, pick up walking stick and go”. Who wants to cart around half a pharmacy when they're only going out for twenty minutes?

  4. As a cronic Asthmatic, im here tot ell you whos to blame for this one: your old freind the gp. They wont give you at least two at once.Due to the nature of asthma treatment, unlike a bottle of pills theres no way to really work out when it will run out. Luckerly i have a home nebuliser and nebules, and my partners asthmatic too., on the same inhaler, so we tend to put the repeat in when we start the second one and share. Else wed run out all the time.

  5. It's what you're used to more than anything.I don't get excited any more about temporary loss of vision, or headaches so bad they make me cry or even vomit a little with the pain, or fits, or collapses, or short periods of unconsciousness… these things might well terrify someone else but to me and those around me they “just happen”, and if someone's about then they get me a drink and put some medication inside me, and if I'm alone then I lie on the floor and wait until either someone gets home, or until I can sort myself out. I could call a doctor or an ambulance several times a week… and they would say “yes, and? There was nothing more we could do last time, and there's nothing more we can do this time either.”

    But when I got a spot of food poisoning while on holiday, then I was the wussiest bloody pansy you ever did see. Calling NHS direct, finding out where the nearest A&E was “just in case”, all sorts.

  6. Thanks for making me smile kevin, but unless she's even naughtier than I give her debit for – inebriation isn't YET a factor, medalert may well be a good idea when she's living independently, but for now, we just warn those she visits NOT to feed her peanuts – (though if she will act like a cheeky monkey…).Living in France, this all comes with paperwork in triplicate, as the schools doctor claims 2004's prick-test results are out of date (:-o). The daught's a beggar at times, but I'm not quite that 'sadique'.

    At risk of being told off by mine host for rambling on, some years ago, aforementioned schools doctor told teachers that they weren't allowed to perform injection (Anapen wasn't yet available here) , even under instruction from SAMU- had to be done by a doctor – school was out in country and 20 mins from nearest casualty/ED (+20 mins for ambulance to arrive) – she learned a bit of anglo-saxon when I pointed out that this was not in child's best interest, and also contrary to the French law of assisting persons in danger. ( Yes it's a big responsibility/liability, but no-one ever showed me how to use the syringe, just had to work it out from the instructions, and then teach everyone else how!). We've since moved her to a school in town, only half coincidentally 3 mins from ambo station. The joys of having to travel, especially by plane, with a portable mini-fridge, syringes and a vial of adrenaline are a posting in their own right….and thankfully a thing of the past.

  7. This is one asthmatic who doesn't go anywhere without her little blue inhaler.It's the bigger purple one that tends to get forgotten, mainly because I need to take it whether or not I feel I need it. (Sorry).

    Note to self – you don't want Tom posting about you being a stupid cow.

  8. Banana shoulders!!!! (hehe)Anyway, back to the topic. Do any of the hospitals near you have a PODs system (patients own drugs – basically where they're supposed to try to bring them in with them).

    I'm doing an audit in my local trust's pharmacy department ('win-win' – we get educated(!) on interprofessional working, the trust gets a free audit/possible solutions).

    Anyway, one of the groups things that some of the A&E staff think is in issue is when gp referrals who come in by ambulance don't bring them (as opposed to emergencies who don't bring them) – do you ask those sort of patients if they've got meds they need to take in, or don't you do that sort of job?

  9. Hi, My name is Nicky, Last night i finished reading your fantastic book Blood, Sweat & Tea. I couldnt put it down and it has been good company for me while i have been ill with pneumonia. As a mature student nurse i have found it fascinating and am very much looking forwards to my rotation with the ambulance service here in Plymouth. Your book has given me a little insight in to what i should expect and having already worked A&E i can see i am going to be very busy. I found your web address in the back of the book, which incidently is printed wrong, so i ran a search and found you that way!! I will now be a regular visitor to your blog, and in my own blog today i will posting about my read and encouraging my fellow J-landers to follow in my footsteps. Take care, Nicky xxxx

  10. I have never understood this either. I'm a moderate/severe asthmatic, and am essentially under good control on high doses of controller medication. When I'm doing extremely well (haven't needed rescue med in several months) I get slightly more lax but when I'm flaring there isn't a moment my inhaler isn't within arms reach. To be fair, I only have one inhaler of my current prescription at the moment, but alas, in the US I pay rather more for my meds than I did in the UK.

  11. Have read your book and loved it.Just read this post and as a severe asthmatic, I am always shocked that people don't carry their blue inhalers with them, many people sadly don't relise just how potentially serious asthma is and the sad thing is about 90 percent of asthma deaths could be prevented. I would never go out without my blue inhaler and longer distances my nebuliser.

    I think that it can't be reinforced enough the importance of carrying their blue inhaler and ensuring that there is sufficent medication in it.


  12. Asthmatics quite often tend to be in a sort of denial, maybe because of the variability of the illness. I must admit I have often wondered why people put up with not being able to breathe properly night after night but would go to the GP, or A & E , or call Tom for the same degree of discomfort if it was abdominal pain.Message for fellow asthmatics TAKE YOUR PREVENTER REGULARLY and yes, always have spare relievers around xx ps Tom, how do you find time to do all that you do?

  13. Strapping calves you've got there, Tom! I don't play any of these games but I assume from the overall 'aesthetic' that they have baby dragons and the like that like to take chunks out of any passing leg.

  14. I'm glad im not the only grown up that spends their spare time playing fantasy RPGs πŸ™‚ I dont play WoW I have to say, but I do like a good blast on Morrowind and Oblivion on a daily basis.Kate

  15. Well, for me, they're prescribed one at a time, with the usual cap of three repeat prescriptions, and none of the *four* types of inhalor that I currently use is metered so that it shows when it's running low – two just stop working, and two have a little red dot to say 'empty now'.Turn around time for a repeat prescription at my drs is three days, plus I need to go into work late one day to be able to pick *up* the prescription to get it filled, which means either having a fll hour for lunch [not a regular occurance in my job] or leaving bang on finishing time [ditto]. And if I've hit the magic 'three repeats'? I need to have a sequence of days when I can be on the phone between 9 and 9.15 am *and* be late into work the following day in order to get an appointment to get the 'script rennewed. Seeing as my asthma doesn't normally make me sick enough to be off work, this is a huge pain in the ass, and sometimes, yes, I end up out of drugs.

    Oh, and last time I tried to use my repeats close together, so as to end up with more than one working inhalour for each drug, I got summoned in to the doctors, who were worried about the rate at which I was using the medication. Which on the one hand, go them for both noticing and caring, but on the other hand – grrrr.

    And what's slightly alarming here is that I have a *good* GP, and I manage several chronic conditions, so I know their systems pretty well …..

  16. Someone's already mentioned the variability of the illness being an issue. I don't need a preventer inhaler, but I do have a few ventolins. I've gone to use mine on occasion and discovered that they've expired / almost run out. I can get 2 per prescription charge, so now I have one in my handbag and one at home. It's the same with my epi-pen…thank god I've never needed it, but it is easy not to remember to carry it at all times and check the expiry date regularly. When it comes to people with more severe asthma…well they're just plain crazy – asthmatics and diabetics are experts at denial!

  17. It's a bit like, on your car, checking that the spare tyre you've never needed yet is still sound, and making sure you have a spare petrol can and a first aid kit and one of those red triangley things, and checking the levels on the oil and water and and and.How many drivers here really do all those things before every journey they make, no matter how small? And how many are human, and have run out of petrol on a fairly short journey and thought of the nice red petrol can sitting in the shed?

    There's also the issue that as soon as someone realises a person has a condition (they see the inhaler or the tablets or the syringes or whatever) it gets seized on as a topic of conversation, and the person is subjected to no end of advice about what worked for their cousin's teacher's milkman who had that, or lectured on how modern illnesses are a byproduct of our lifestyles, or the wonderful “you don't need that, you should just throw it away and see how much healthier you feel!”

    I should point out, I actually agree that it is silly and reckless to go out without medications one might need, particularly lifesaving ones. And that it's sillier and more reckless than leaving the house without your keys, or without a waterproof jacket, and therefore in some respects non-comparable. It's just I can see the other side of the fence too.

  18. As an asthmatic who suffers only in the summer due to hayfever, I wouldn't dream of going anywher from April to September without my inhaler. In fact, I have one at home, one in the car, one on my bench at work, one in the works van plus the one I carry in my pocket. Whether I use or not is a different matter, but at least I have it with me, just in case…

  19. Kevin, you sound like us, don't forget cupboard full of tins, as once you've eaten the contents of the freezer!!! We get doeble whammy of no power and no water (as it has to be pumped up the hill)

  20. I am quite a severe asthmatic & although I pretty much have my blue inhaler with me all the time, mt daily medication (purple inhaler) can be a problem. This is mainly as I am only able to get one at a time from the doctors on repeat prescription & the first I know that i need a check up in order to get more medication is when they don't send me a prescription. Then they expect me to wait two weeks for an appt because the asthma nurse is on holiday. How can you get round this, because when I have tried complaining at the surgery I have had no responce, you would think that my health was not of importance to them.

  21. My daughter got read the riot act yesterday, she forgot to take her medikit into school with her – she has nut and dairy allergies, first life-threatening, second uncomfortable. I'm still thanking lucky stars that Murphy's law didn't rear it's ugly head as am 40 mins drive away. Wonder if anti-histamines reduce the swelling from smacked bums? πŸ™‚

  22. I remember those Boxing Day storms! Fortunately we had a nice Aga (oil fired), a jenny, a chainsaw (for cutting down those awkward trees), and a nice bunker full of coal!! Not to mention a full larder and freezer. It was a long week, and we have since moved to somewhere where it would be virtually impossible to cope without electricity. So we now keep loads of tinned foods, have a camping stove and enough fuel to run it for 10 days, a jenny and fuel to run it (although it would be difficult to use), a chainsaw, and several gas heaters. Thankfully no medication requiring electricity, but it would not be fun.

  23. Has anyone tried just saying to their gp, “Can I have a spare?” Pick the friendly gp, obviously, not the little Hitler one who likes to berate you for your lifestyle choices.

  24. I'm a practice nurse . At our surgery you would get two of each inhaler, ie 2 months supply and we would offer you a combined preventer/long acting reliever inhaler. We would also recommend rhat you look into buying a prepayment certificate which would save you money

  25. I'm a practice nurse . At our surgery you would get two of each inhaler, ie 2 months supply and we would offer you a combined preventer/long acting reliever inhaler. We would also recommend rhat you look into buying a prepayment certificate which would save you money

  26. As some of you may know, Im also a gamer. And like all traditional, honest Gamers (who dont play WoW) you will know that the rest of the gaming community hates WoW with a passion. Its a dangerously addictive game. Anyone hear of the couple (dont know where there from) who left there baby alone for something like 12 hours to go play at an internet cafe and came back to found it had suffocated. Its a sad story…but games I personally can recommend Battlefield 2 and BF 2142, Call of Duty and Call of Duty United Offensive. LoL I love PC gaming almost as much I love being abused by pissed off Moto X riders. (Life is Good) infact check this link to my Clan's Page (this is when you cross the line from not being a geek to being a geek.)

  27. Careful, you may start a discussion re smacked bums! No – I've just googled it – it's already a topic – 3,420 hits (sorry, bad choice of words).Worry not, dear fretting parent: the school knows the magic number; altogether now “- 9. – 9. – 9!!!!!”

    Seriously, treating anaphylaxis is part of our stock in trade; we recognise it and deal with it on a moderately regular basis. In my experience, wasp stings are the commonest cause, though drink is another. (Inebriation leads to unwisdom in many things – including not reading the list of ingredients. Severe inebriation leads to a failure to bring the list of ingredients into focus!) Repeat prescriptions are another regular. (Really… Even if you have a severe allergy, do you bother to read what's in your medication besides the prescribed drug?). Your pharmacist dispenses generic medications; he/she may one day decide to stock a different brand. The bulking, casing, and stabilising ingredients (or even the packaging) may be slightly different from the other brand, and it turns out that you're allergic to one of them.

    A call to a severe allergic reaction gets a CatA response. Every time.

    However medikit to hand, and a proper attitude, are much to be encouraged. (I had an old-fashioned Scots education; it was founded on a firm belief that learning could be hammered into a child from the bottom upwards if necessary). A Medalert-type pendant or bracelet might also be an acceptable Christmas gift. Finally, when she decides that her life is over if she doesn't get a tattoo, convince her that “I SUFFER FROM EXTREME ALLERGIC REACTIONS” somewhere prominent is far more fashionable than Celtic knot designs.

    Thinks… “I wonder whether Medalert do belly button medallions these days”…….

  28. Bubble 'n Hearth, Tom, bubble 'n hearth.. *grin* (come to Argent Dawn sometime, we'll do lunch or battle depending on your faction..)Asthmatic here, have been since about 2 years old. Stopped having big attacks when I was 5 or 6, since then it's been the mildest form, just a Ventolin inhaler in case.

    ..but of course, the one time I had an attack I was the other side of the country without it. And, like Batsgirl said, I'm used to breathlessness, so it wasn't until 7am, after about 15 hours of “sipping” for air, that I thought I should probably see a doctor. And then the receptionist wouldn't hand over the inhaler until I'd paid.. Didn't quite have enough cash on me, so my boyfriend had to run full tilt to find a cashpoint. Meanwhile I sat, “sipping” madly, with the inhaler on the desk in front of her. ..hooray for her.

    I wouldn't say it was denial, per se, but I do kid myself about how nasty it can be. So, if I'm feeling breathless, I just tend to think “oh, it'll pass” instead of “should really take a puff, just in case”. Might just be me, but I'd say it's more complacence at living with it every day. Anyone else think like that?

  29. Well said Batsgirl.I'm one of the nebulous “people with chronic conditions”, I also work full time on an RAF base that's in the middle of nowhere, is a pain in the arse to get on and off again in the space of a lunch-hour and find it difficult to make it to the dr's/chemist before they close of an evening. I'm also human and prone to that human foible of forgetting something when in a hurry. Oh to be perfect.

  30. as a paramedic who is also asthmatic i know how important it is to always have my “blue” inhaler with me, and i normall have 2 laying around somewhere, but as many others have said my gp will only give me 1 at a time and every 4/6 i have to go in for an asthma check, this is not easy to do as i work and hour and a half away from surgery and only come home 2 day in every 7, this is an impossible task… luckly i have a very understanding chemist who will lend me an inhaler if i get low, and i will”repay” him when i mange to get a presription… what a nightmare for such a vital drug!!! and why do we have to pay for a drug which could save our lives!!!! sorry for such a long

  31. banananana shoulders. yeah. but even funnier are those calves. what's with the calves? Do you have any say in these matters, or do you have to go to war with the avatar you've got, not with the one you'd like to have got? (You can tell I don't know anything about WoW.)About asthmatics not carrying inhalers, I'd think it had to do with a deep-seated desire not to need the damn things. I'm not asthmatic myself, so just guessing.

  32. I wonder why asthmatics are subject to such strict monitoring before they can get a new inhaler – I'm fairly sure that as a teenage asthmatic in the 80s/90s, I self monitored (graph paper+peak flow meter). I don't remember having to attend the GP's surgery for each repeat either.I also find it confusing as I'm one of those chronic type people too – but on the painkiller/muscle relaxant side. Some of those would be very dangerous to suddenly withdraw from or if I wasn't managing them correctly, but the repeats only have to be checked once a year (probably because most of the meds are not GP prescribed).

    I'm also lucky in that I can order repeats online, and the chemist I use is within lunchtime walking distance of where I study.

    I know what people mean about working out when to get a repeat though. I'm on some liquid meds, and I find it hard to work out when to request a repeat so that I don't run out, but also don't get 'computer says no' (I'm sure anyone who's surgery has a computerised repeats system will understand that one πŸ™ ).

  33. A guy I used to work with in a pub had moderate/severe asthma. He was hospitalised a few times in the 4 years I worked with him. Mainly, it was his own fault for being an idiot and not having his inhaler with him…One time, he was obvoiusly in trouble and the boss had sent him outside to get some air. I went out to see if he was ok- and it turned out the reason he was struggling was because he didn't have a spare inhaler because he couldn't get to the docs to get the repeat done. I went across the road to the chemist, and he knows this guy well- he “lends” them out as well. But unfortunately, it was a different guy and he wouldn't let me take one. So I ended up running half way around the town back to my house to get a spare one for him.

    I am not asthmatic, but my mum has one in her “kit” that she uses in the school she works out. He was a lucky boy.

    After this, again, he managed to get a couple and we kept one for him. He was notoriously bad at remembering to get new ones!

  34. HiTom,My daughter and I both use inhalers, and we are able to get repeat

    prescriptions, and we both ge two at a time!

    perhaps we are lucky, but it makes sence because it means we only have to bother the surgery every 2 months (also luck for me as i have to pay for mine.

    keep up the good work.


  35. I think the people who fail to have their inhalers with them are in the same category of people that are extremely allergic to things and don't carry their epi pens with them (most common reason is the parent of a child anaphylactic stating that they are just so expensive & what if he/she lost it?)I also lump diabetic tourists who are int eh area for a week & thoguht they would be okay without their insulin…………..

    sigh….. I guess its these people that keep us employed.

  36. I never go anywhere without some paracetamol with codene to hand, i can't imagine how someone wouldn't have an actual life saving drug they need with them o.O

  37. “A call to a severe allergic reaction gets a CatA response. Every time.”Don't bet on it…! The level of response is, sadly, still directly linked to the answers given by the caller to the dispatcher/call taker.

    I have recently been called out to a known asthmatic having a very severe attack. The job had been coded with a Cat B response. The patient was transported to hospital on blue lights, and was so severely poorly that I administered IM adrenaline/epinephrine en route, and subsequently spent a further six weeks in hospital.

    Had I been diverted to a “more serious” Cat A stubbed toe, this patient would certainly have died. It was brown-trousers moment.

  38. hellooo!I have brittle asthma and always have, inhaler, neb & epipens in my bag and also at home! I don't need to worry about not having my meds with me then! I always have them.

    My GPs also give me repeats of 2 ventolin inhalers per month so If you can get this, stash them! Then have them in different places, etc car, work etc.

    I help on the Kick Asthma Kids holidays run by Asthma UK and most kids remember their inhalers, epipens etc. when doing any activity , even going for dinner!

    Comment about inhalers around necks… there is a Comany in the UK who make a gadget called a PuffaPouch for such purposes although these only fit the MDI ( aerosol) ones at pressent.

    They can be hung round the neck ( with a safety snap to avoid strangulation!) and are available is many colours such as bright pink!

    meds & admissions – I have a pre packed hosp bag and my local Parapanics Paramedics usually take all these with me if I am at home.

    I also have a treatment protocol stuffed in various places to help along with a medic alert incase I am found in a gutter LOL!


    BTW they look like green bananas on your shoulders!

  39. I have had Anaphylactic shock (from a wasp sting) and the experience was so terrifying and I was so dreadfully affected by it, that I now go NOWHERE without my Epipen during Spring, Summer or Autumn (and on sunny days in Winter, I bring it with me just in case some wasps have woken up from hibernation).I too have difficulty obtaining the medication from my GP, who refuses to give me more than two each time I have the old one replaced. Two may seem enough, but given that one dose may not work (!), having just one spare seems a bit risky to me: I'd like to be able to have the meds in a variety of situations, so that if I need it, I'll always be covered.Saying that, I have little sympathy for those people who don't prioritise their health, and always ensure they have enough medication. It's their responsibility to look after themselves, not the emergency services; if their denial or unnaccountability leaves them to rely on the medical profession to ensure their wellbeing, they're just using up what precious little health resources we have, and in my opinion, that is terribly selfish.Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think (able) people should take a little more responsiblity for themselves, and that way they would prevent themselves becoming an emergency which needs to be treated.

  40. I'm hoping that you just mean people who purposefully think “sod it, I don't need to carry medication, the emergency services will pick me up.” Not sure how many of them there are.Or do you also include people who do a sterling, A-1 job of looking after themselves and their health 99% of the time, who juggle a mind-boggling amount of medications and equipment every single day in a bid to effectively manage their conditions (and be as small a drain as possible on the precious health resources)… and then just one percent of the time, happen to forget (you know, like human beings do) to immediately replace ONE of the medications that should be in their handbag/glovebox/etc?

    Selfish vs human.

    Remember that the ambulances don't get called and therefore don't see the 99 occasions that a “responsible” person starts having an attack, whips their meds out of their pocket, takes them, rests a minute, and then carries on with their life. The ambulance only gets called on the one occasion it all goes tits-up because a responsible person is still a person, capable of errors of judgement, imperfect organisational skills, and having other demands on their time.

  41. Indeed i quite agree…recently went to a guy covered in hives and looking rather flushed, but he had no (and here's the magic word) shortness of breath…Cat B here we come!This patient was systemically unwell and because he could speak in complete sentences, was breathign regularly and didnt want to complain it was coded amber, thank god the HDU crew (our 3rd tier) got on scene and recognised the severity of his condition and called for urgent backup!

  42. You are, of course, right. The Law of Sod is always there, and Million-to-One chances happen hundreds of times every day. There is also the risk that an acute asthmatic calling in will be identified as a heavy-breather nuisance call.Allegedly true story. Call taker receives panicky, heavy breathing call, and realises that it's an asthmatic. She pursues the algorithm as best she can, but – in other clever ways- deduces an address and passes it across to the Despatcher. Ambulance is sent, and the crew bounce in to the address. They locate the caller, find him blue and frantic. They reassure him, and nebulise him on 100% O2. The patient is absolutely desperate, and fights them every inch of the way. They get him into a carry chair, and install him in the vehicle. He is still frenziedly trying to communicate, and struggling desperately. They continue trying to calm him. Eventually, they decide just to run with him, and the rostered driver goes back to check and secure the house.

    Ten seconds later, he comes galloping back out shouting “Charlie!! – Defib, Response bag, oxygen, kitchen, quick!! Cardiac arrest!!!!!”

  43. I don't think that any of us have been throwing down gauntlets (medieval fantasy games or no!!) Tom introduced a focus (in his usual, inimitable way), and a number of others chimed in. I, for example, have been on a personal mission re mains-powered medical equipment ever since I saw at first hand the consequences of not thinking ahead about what to do if the power supply failed. Tom's post gave me the opportunity to borrow his soapbox for a while and, perhaps, spread my self-imposed little mission a wee bit wider.What this post seems partcularly to have highlighted is the difficulty that appears to exist in persuading GPs to prescribe “spares”. I wonder why that is, and what is being done about the problem.

    My GP is easy to speak to (He was sick on the carpet at my son's 6th birthday party; in his defence, he was just 6 at the time as well) so I shall ask him about it the next time I see him.

  44. I agree with batsgirl re cutting the responsible majority who slip up once in a blue moon a break – let's face it, most ambulance calls/hospital admissions could be prevented if we all lived 100% focued on maintaining our health, and didn't become alkies, overweight or smoke, etc… or have children, or have strange relationships with carrots….What a boringly grey world it would be full of people like that though!

    And there's always the other side of the coin – this BBC report about people “ignoring” heart attacks :

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