The Term Of The Day

“Fitting female”.
The address was one of those tricky ones. Places in that area tend not to have door numbers on them and in the rough area of this address there is a homeless hostel (which has a lot of people fitting because they are alcoholic) next door to a disabled person day centre (where a fair number of their clients have epilepsy).

We had to take a guess as to which of the two places the call came from – we guessed wrong because as soon as we walked into the hostel the man behind the desk looked very confused and in broken English asked us why we were there. To give them their due they do normally know when one of their lodgers has taken a bit sick, as they are normally the ones who phone us.

So we walked to the large house next door where some of the local disabled people have a day centre. We were met by a member of staff who led us to a young woman laying on the floor. In the corner of the room was a woman 'dancing' with a wheelchair bound patient.

One of the day centre staff told us what had happened – the patient had suffered a short fit, and as part of their care protocol they were to call an ambulance.

I tried talking to our patient but she wasn't saying much. I asked if she understood English and they told me that she spoke it perfectly they also told me that she wasn't deaf and that she was normally quite chatty. I tried talking to her again and there was still no answer.

I sent my crewmate to fetch the trolley-bed, it was tricky to get it in but it would serve us better than the carry chair. Meanwhile I checked the patient out a bit more to make sure that she wasn't hurt and got a bit more of a background from the staff.

In a strange coincidence the staff who was talking to me was an ex-patient of mine, I'd taken him to hospital when he had a heart attack at work. Nice to see that some of my patients do get better…

As soon as the trolley was brought up to her my patient sat upright and told me that she 'wasn't going to go on one of them' and that she would much prefer to walk into the ambulance. So after struggling with the trolley to get it into the centre we had to struggle to put it back on the ambulance.

Our patient and a carer walked onto the ambulance and, after a few more checks, were soon on the way to hospital.

I'm a friendly chap and will quite happily talk to my patients – so I started getting her medical history – Epilepsy was pretty easy to get out of her, but how do you ask someone what their particular mental 'disability' is? I always feel that it's like calling someone stupid, or insane. I'm also never quite sure of which politically correct term is flavour of the month.

In the end we settled on 'learning disabilities' and then settled back to chat about all sorts of things, including her telling me that doctors keep asking her if she has a boyfriend, something that she finds rather rude. We chat about other things of course, like her going to college and about the other people in her family.

Eventually we reach hospital and leave her and her carer there so that she can wait for her mother to come and pick her up and take her home.

At the end of the day I don't think that she really had a seizure – her recovery was too quick and she was too eager to go to hospital. I'm guessing that she really just fancied a day at home rather than at the centre. But who am I to judge, unless I see the fit myself I don't know if it has been faked or not. No ambulance person ever lost their job taking a willing person to hospital.

And I had a nice chat as well.

11 thoughts on “The Term Of The Day”

  1. Nice that the carer, could go to hospital with the patient, it's not always the case is it? I can't start to imagine what its like for someone with learning difficulties and who is 'proper poorly' to be taken off to hospital with out some one they know to accompany them

  2. Sod the politically correct, flavour of the month terminology. With a few obvious exceptions (avoid using terms like “mong” or “window licker”) the important thing is how you say it, and then how you respond to the answer.

  3. Yes, I woke up with it on my twitter feed. Hey, if you are large (due to food or steroids or anything inbetween) then the ambulance crew need to get you out (a) Safely and (b) Without injuring themselves. Sometimes this takes time.I know I've spent five hours on scene with a large 'un trying to get her out the house safely.

    It'd be interesting to know more details.

  4. Didn't even notice the typo, must have been tired reading it too! Two points, one about Tom's post, it is hard to find out what peoples disability is at that point, I can never quite work it out myself, and its not fair on the patient to ask the carer either is it. One day I will find a tactful way of asking I am sure, for now I just continue to bumble through. As for the care staff travelling it must be a good centre, most of the places I go too never send someone, even if we are telling them that they have no choice, they still come up with excuses about staffing levels, I usually come back with putting themselves in that situation, it works from time to time.As for the removal of large people from premises, whether it be medical reasons or personal, people really don't understand what it takes, they call us for help, but expect us to be able to magically move people. I know of someone who had to be removed by a light rescue team from trumpton along with several members of the ambo service. Its not that we want to take the time to remove them from a property, the last thing we want is to spend hours on end trying to get someone to hospital. With that case, obviously we don't have all of the facts, so its difficult to comment, I don't like to comment on jobs that my colleagues do most of the time, only because you act on what you see, hindsight is a wonderful thing, but unfair on those who have had to make the decision on the ground there and then.

  5. Just came to post that story actually, which I saw in Metro sans a few of the Beeb's details, and was curious as to your take on it. The Metro story alleges that the woman's husband told the EMTs/paras not to lay her on her back as it would obstruct her breathing, I'm imagining they didn't have much of a choice though.I must admit that my thoughts were something along the lines of “well, obese patients ARE difficult to move, fact of life, it may not be your 'fault' but it is what it is”. I find it hard to imagine EMTs making fun of someone in respiratory distress.

  6. I shouldn't have sniggered at your post – but I did. There's something redolent of Harry Enfield's Mr Cholmondeley-Warner about “avoid using terms like 'mong' or 'window licker'” that rather charmed me…. sorry!On a happier note, am I the only person who comes here after a big catchup on the daily news, because I almost know that there's going to be something on here that restores my faith in human nature – if not Tom's main post, then it'll be one of the regular commentors.

    Call me sappy, blame it on the big glass of chilled Waitrose perry I'm working on right now* but I love you lot!!!! :o)

    * Perry – 8% ABV pear cider, aka, tramp juice tarted up for the middle classes….

  7. There must be a typo in that story – 17st isn't *that* fat. From the photo and a quick skim of the article I assumed they must have been talking about someone extremely obese, possibly over 200kg.

  8. It is not uncommon for the fire department to be asked to help in situations like this 'round our way. I am paged out all the time (I am a firefighter and an EMT) for 'Lifting Assistance'. Sounds like her husband didn't realize this was a practical means of solving the problem and not an insult.I was touched by the politeness of the term you used for quickly loading the patient and treating en route. Here in the mountains we call that 'Sh*t and git'. :o)

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