“Funny place to be drunk…”, I said.
We were being sent to a 'Not breathing' at one of the bridges around my patch. Most 'not breathing' calls to public places are drunks, but this one didn't 'smell' right. Sure, there is a pub underneath the bridge, but there was something about it that made me think that it might be genuine.
It doesn't make a difference to my driving what I'm thinking – I'll get there as quickly and safely as I can, even if I know it's one of our local drunks.
The bridge is a dual carriageway with a divider down the middle and as we approached we could see them on the other side of the road – there were a few cars parked there and a person standing there waved at us as we drove past. He didn't look too bothered.
We spun around the roundabout at the end (narrowly missing some idiot who not only doesn't know how to give way at a roundabout, but jumps out on ambulances that are all lit up) and approached the two parked cars.
It immediately struck me that there was a man laying his back, with another man doing very effective CPR on him. Looks like the call was a genuine one!
I stopped the ambulance and told my mate to grab the 'shock box' and look after the patient; I would get the trolley off the back of the ambulance and we would 'scoop and run'.
The patient had been a passenger in his son's car, then he had suddenly collapsed. The son had pulled over to find that his father didn't have a pulse. A man driving behind them had stopped to offer some assistance. He'd recognised what was wrong and had started the heart massage.
By the time I'd managed to get the trolley and maneuver it through the traffic (which was whizzing dangerously close to us) my crewmate, who has been out of training school for less than a year, had diagnosed the patient's heart rhythm and had given him a 'shock'.
It was about then that another ambulance and an Emergency Care Practitioner arrived. We loaded the patient onto the ambulance and started some advanced techniques. I kept bouncing up and down on the patient's chest.
Then the patient got their pulse back!
And he started breathing!
Time to drive to hospital…
When we got to the hospital the patient was given a good chance of surviving his 'death' – he has the best chance an outdoor cardiac arrest ever has. While what we did was important it was the man who was driving behind the patient, stopped his car, pulled the patient out and performed very effective heart massage for the eight minutes it took us to get there.
…and… while I may often gently mock the St. John ambulance service – the man who was doing all this was one of their members.
So if the patient survives, and he has a pretty good chance, it'll all be because of the help that bystander gave. Unfortunately I was too busy to tell our good samaritan this – so with a bit of luck someone who reads this might know him and pass on my thanks. He deserves to know what an effect he had on this patient.
Of course now I'll get a reputation for being soft on the 'Johnnies'…