A Late Job

I spent twelve hours working a night shift, picking up drunks and druggies. Then I had four hours sleep, travelled in to the Apple shop to see a genius. Dealt with my computer then went back to work for thirteen and a half hours without a break, once again dealing with drunks and druggies.
I am having a sense of humour failure.

The previous night had us going to the same drunk twice.

“I vomit”, he says in a thick Russian accent as we drag him out of an alleyway. He then spits on the floor, no sign of vomit.

So we take him to hospital where they check him out (even though he is apparently a regular) and discharge him.

A couple of jobs later we are called to him again because he is 'unconscious in a bush'.

Once more, our only real option is to return him to hospital where he settles down to sleep in the waiting room. He isn't homeless, he just gets drunk in the street.

So… Guess who our first patient is on the following shift.

This time I'm so annoyed I call the police on him, they move him along (whatever happened to arresting 'drunk and incapable' people? I'm guessing that they have run out of cells).

The big question will be… Will I see him again tonight?

(Actually, the big question is rather, 'Will he survive seeing me again tonight?').

My laptop will take 7-10 days to repair; which is hassle I could do without. What makes it annoying is that I'm busy over the next week or so, and could have done with it to keep my life in order.

I'm going to have to use my old windows laptop in the meantime as the old Mac that I'm using to type this has a flaky wi-fi adaptor that only works sometimes.

Last night was very busy, I nearly run out of room on the paperwork to list all our jobs. We also had the pleasure of a 'late job'.

Picture the scene, after eleven hours of work without a break we are looking for an 'off job', something nice and simple that means we are at hospital when the end of our shift rolls around.

We get a perfect job sent to our screen, a not seriously injured child, not far from the hospital – it'll do us just fine.

Except, as we arrive on scene we get cancelled for a 'higher priority' job. A transfer from one hospital's ITU to another hospital.

So we turn up and wait an hour and a half for them to get the patient ready for transport. They faff around with lines and drips and photocopying notes while I stand there and watch the minute hand of the clock drift past the end of our shift.

Finally we are on our way, so we whizz to the hospital, off load the patient and then watch as they faff around even more before returning the equipment and travelling doctor back to us.

An hour and a half after our twelve hour shift finishes and I'm falling into my car for the drive home.

I'll be back in ten and a half hours.

For more of the same.

Will the people of Newham survive?

19 thoughts on “A Late Job”

  1. Isn't that always the way – smug posts contain typing errors.It would seem that I am, indeed, a tool…



  2. the first thing i ask a crew, after saying hello and introducing the team, is to ask what time they're off shift. Mind you it works the other way to – we have been off late many times due to a crew taking it easy on the way back, so that they remarkably arrive back just in time to drop us off, and then become off the road due to missed breaks.

  3. It seems to be getting you down a bit these days. Although it would deprive me of your blog maybe you should look for something else. Jobs shouldn't be that much of a pain in the arse.I have a spare wifi adaptor if you want to borrow it. Let me know.

  4. Oh yes, how are YOU?What I've always wanted to ask:

    What happens to all the paperwork? What do you have to do with it and how much is it?

    Cheers, Michael

  5. Reckon its time you had a holiday Tom! seems your doin 2 much, Need 2 chill, book a break in the sun and recharge your batteries!!Take care


  6. The trouble with accepting 'drunk and incapables' into custody is partly a lack of cells. But it is mainly the fact that very drunk people have a much higher chance of dying than the rest of the population.And if someone dies in custody, the officers who have had dealings with that person get suspended, sometimes for months or even years – and are subject to criminal and internal investigations. I've seen it happen to colleagues.

    At the very best they and their families suffer the stress and anxiety of not knowing if they are going to go to jail/lose their job/lose their pension/get demoted/get fined – and get dragged through the press (who, incidently, make an assumption that because it was a death in police custody that the deceased was deliberately beaten to death by uniformed fascists).

    Police cells are not designed for looking after drunk and vulnerable people anyway. So we have to adopt incredibly labour intensive regimes of sitting with drunks in their cell the whole time they are there to ensure they don't die. That task is performed by police officers who would otherwise be out on the streets.

    So it's a Catch 22 situation. Either you do what you describe in your post, or we lock them up and tie up police officers for hours. Both options mean anger and frustration for hard-pressed emergency services – and a reduced service for those who really need us.

    If we do end up charging drunks with the offence of being drunk and incapable it is difficult for the courts to do anything meaningful anyway. Usually the time they have spent is custody is deemed as being their punishment. How on earth do you deter habitual drunks.

    Despite having a close relative who died of alcoholism, and knowing how difficult and intractable it is – I find it difficult to feel anything but anger and frustration at the selfishness of these people. Their self-intoxication results in the ambulance service, the wider health service, and the police service being unable to deal with genuine emergencies – and unable to provide a proper service to others who need it.

    What the answer is I don't know. Perhaps if the government were to recognise it and fund 'drunk-tanks' which provide a mixture of custody and properly trained medical intervention?

    Whatever happens, all I see is the drinks industry making a fortune out of these people, and then leaving them out on the streets for someone else to deal with. Perhaps the Scandinavian model of super-taxation on drink is the one way of dealing with it?

    Anyway – I understand your frustration Reynolds 🙁


  7. Ah yes. Hospital time. Hospital time seems to work slightly differently to normal, outside time. “The patient is ready now” means it'll take half an hour to get his drugs ready, “He'll be ready in ten minutes” means that the consultant hasn't seen him yet and then we need to get his drugs ready. Same all over.

  8. I sympathize. I've never yet done a transfer (blue light or not) where the patient was actually ready for us, despite the claim “The patient is ready to travel now”. You can always assume that you will be waiting around at hospital for at least 45 minutes. Then if you're really lucky, just as you're about to load the patient the anaethestist who has to travel says “I must have a paramedic to assist me if anything goes wrong”; even though it didn't occur to them to specify this (unnecessary) requirement when the transport was booked.Mind you, it is amusing to see the look of near terror on the faces of these alpha-males (& females) when they get in the back of an ambulance and realize that they might have to do all the work themselves if things go pear-shaped instead of having half-a-dozen lackeys running around for them.

    btw – could anyone let me have a recording of “that” episode of “Tonight with Trevor McDoughnut”? I was working that night and I'd like to see the program that by all accounts suggests that EMTs are barely capable of tying their own bootlaces.

  9. Tom: What kind of shift pattern do they have you working ? How many nights to days, and days off ? Just curious.

  10. Perhaps the way round the inadequacy of the punishment is not to count the period during which they are so drunk that they do not understand they are in custody. On that basis, punishment starts when they are sober and no-one then needs to babysit.

  11. Sounds like a rough few days all round – know what you mean about hospital transfers – as an ex ITU nurse now residing in occupational health via elderly rehab (interesting career path) it used to drive ME nuts when the docs ordered transport and we knew we were at least 30 minutes away from being ready to go. IMHO it stems from a lack of trust that if the hospital request an urgent transport they get one within 5-10 minutes. Maybe the higher ups need to spend some of their time building that trust so that the lower downs don't get dumped on all the time. And on a different note – I remember being in the front doing a blue light transfer and being bloody terrified about the way that the general public don't see/respond to ambulances with blues/twos on so WELL DONE TOM and all for doing a very hard job very well.

  12. Too late, I deleted it yesterday, but ITV have just started a web based thingy that allows you to watch tv on line, they may have it in the archives.And yes us band for stretcher monkey van drivers are unable to do our shoelaces (they are considering velcro on the next issue LOL)

    As for the habitual drunks, I think there will never be a solution, I have transfered a few from the cells now (which although a hassle is understandable) I have a regular that ends up in the cells that is a sudo-fitter, its no one elses fault that we continue to get calls to this person (both in the cells and the street) but there is nothing anyone can do really as its cover a**es time when it comes to people like that.

    As for the transfer, well I have yet to go to a patient 'who is ready to travel' and actually find that this is the case, I beg your pardon, there was one, a seriously ill patient who needed to get to Hammersmith asap, who walked out to the ambulance, chatted all the way through the journey and then stepped off the otherside with a cheery hello to the consultant who had been so concerned by him.

    We will never win……

  13. Do you not have to have 12hrs in between shifts?I was taught if you started at 7am then you can't work past 7pm if you've got to be on a 7am shift the next day. Can't you knock a job back if it's going to take you over your time?

  14. The inter-hospital transfers that want you there lights and sirens, but then spend over an hour organising things once you are there. It was becoming a problem down here until we started telling the hospital, if the patient isn't ready in the next 15 minutes, we're clearing and you can call for another ambulance when he is ready. This went on for 3-4months with a few complaints being issued from the hospitals against the crews. Our clinicians backed us up, and now the system works well most of the time. It basically means the hospital have the patient nearly ready when they call for an ambulance.

  15. I don't know about LAS but with our service you have to have at least 11 hours between shifts, but you are unable to refuse a red call even if it will make you off late. However if you do go over your time and there won't be 11 hours between the shifts you can opt to come in late the following day (most people just claim the overtime and come in normal time, unless its extreme)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *