The Universe has a strange sense of humour – I can say this because no sooner than I ask for something a little different from the tales of doom and gloom I have been 'entertaining' you with than one drops in my lap. This post will also make my mum really happy and proud of me…
In fact it's so perfect I took some pictures so that you would know that I wasn't lying.
The call was given as 'House fire – persons reported inside', an interesting job. So at 1am in the morning we fly through the streets to find firefighters having just dowsed the fire that has wrecked a house. I spoke to their top man and he told me that they had checked the entire house and that there wasn't any people inside.
It's then that I looked down to see a firefighter on his knees giving oxygen to what I thought was a baby.
With a longer look I was extremely happy to see that it wasn't a baby.
It was a cat.
The poor little soul was covered in soot and was having real trouble breathing – it was panting like a dog, and the rate of it's breathing was incredibly fast. The firefighters were giving him oxygen and trying to keep him warm (as he'd been soaked by the firefighter's hoses).
One of the firefighters seemed a bit upset, “Don't lose him, we had a cat die on us last week”.
I let them know that we would take the cat.
So we picked him up and took him into the back of the ambulance, the neighbours who'd all gathered to watch the show seemed bemused. Unfortunately the owners of the house couldn't be found, so the cat had suddenly become my responsibility. We dried it off and gave it oxygen – in the picture you can see a McIlroy funnel which is used to give oxygen to neonates.
This is the first (and hopefully only) time I've ever needed to use it.
The cat really didn't look well, I'm no vet and I've never kept a cat, but I could see that this was serious.
I listened to it's chest and it sounded…well…kind of normal. But I have no real idea what it should sound like.
I radioed our Control.
“Hello Control, erm… This is going to sound weird”, how best to phrase this? “We have no human casualties at this call, but I do have a very sick cat with smoke inhalation, I'd like to take it to the 24hr vet hospital at Wanstead. Mainly so that I can sleep tonight. Can you ring them and let them know that we are on our way please?”
There was a long pause, the controller was probably talking to her senior.
“Roger that ambulance – we'll show you headed to the hospital, do you know their phone number?”
I let them know that I didn't.
We whizzed down there and was met by a vet and veterinary nurse who did lots of clever things to it, including giving aminophylline and doing the worlds smallest venous cut-down. It's breathing became a lot better and the staff seemed hopeful for it's chances. We gave them the address of the house so that they could reunite the animal with it's owners.
Now some folk will moan that we used an ambulance to look after an animal – but this 'patient' was the only one who actually needed an ambulance that night, we'd been dealing with drunks for much of the shift. So if you want to moan, then moan away – but it was good for the mental health of my crewmate and myself.
I'd like to just say a big 'Thank You' to the Control staff who let us run to the vet hospital and also to the vet hospital staff who helped us out. Also thanks to the crew that gave Control the phone number to the hospital. Because of them I can hit send on this posting and can sleep soundly knowing that we did the best we could. Even if it did make the ambulance smell of wet smoky cat poo for the next hour.