It's a dichotomy this job. One minute you are dealing with a blithering idiot, the next you are working to save someone's life.
Take yesterday – we were called to a woman who *lives* on hospital property. The A&E department is less than 200 yards away. Our patient had dialled 999 for 'sore feet'. She was fully able to walk and hadn't taken any painkillers because 'they don't work'. Well they definitely don't work if you leave them sitting in the packet. For this I'd driven on lights and sirens halfway across town.
She also had me fuming because after our arrival at hospital she didn't want to sit in the waiting room, and then she wouldn't give our ambulance blanket back (even though I promised to get her a hospital one). I've got to admit that I *really* wanted to punch her in the face, right there and then. Instead I stormed off, my hands in fists. Let the nurses at the A&E department deal with her, we've done our part.
I may be getting anger management problems…
But then our next job was a beauty. A 72 year old man with a cough, a burning sensation in his chest and pain that got worse when he coughed. It looked (and sounded) like a classic pneumonia. We wheeled him out to the ambulance and did a 12 lead ECG to see what his heart was doing.
Yep – he was having a heart attack.
Yet again the patient didn't present with the classic picture of a heart attack and it is only because we are thorough that we discovered this.
So – off to the London Chest Hospital where they do the excellent and lifesaving angioplasty. It turned out that the patient had a blockage in the same place as the last person I took there. Another potential 'Widowmaker'. While they were clearing the blockage, they found another two areas of concern and cleared them at the same time.
I've got to make the point that the London Chest Hospital has always been extremely friendly towards me, I think that they are very 'pro-ambulance'; when we go there they are professional and are more than willing to let us watch the operation and explain to us exactly what they are doing.
I think that this partnership between us and the angioplasty centres around London is (one of the few) success stories of the NHS.
So there you have it – one of the reasons why I like this job, you can be dealing with utter rubbish one moment, and the next you can be doing something completely worthwhile.
And the job after that one? A Maternataxi.