Tough As Old Boots

Lets call her Gladys. I meet a lot of people called Gladys in my work. Gladys is in her eighties.

Gladys had taken a tumble but not your average tumble, she had fallen down the escalators at one of our tube stations.

Not just a few steps. She'd fallen down at least 30 of the hard metal stairs.

Two members of staff met us at the now familiar 'Rendezvous Point'. You can spot them outside the stations, they are the little plaques with 'RVP' written on it.

I arrived to see Gladys sitting on the now stationary escalator surrounded by Underground staff. I'd come fully expecting to see someone covered in blood who would need to be 'collared and boarded' out.

Instead she was sitting up, apparently not in pain and in good spirits.

Now, I'm a bit of a 'nervous Nelly' when it comes to people injuring themselves in such a manner – I have a strong desire to take them to hospital to be looked over by a doctor.

Unfortunately Gladys was refusing.

I checked her out. She had a lovely lump on the back of her head, and that was about it. I checked her neck and she told me that there was no pain. I wanted to make sure that she hadn't collapsed or fainted, she told me that it was her luggage that made her fall backwards. I let her know that I wanted to take her to hospital, she refused.

I did manage to persuade her to come to the ambulance for a blood pressure check, and there I was able to confirm that, apart from the bump on her head, she seemed unhurt.

A little trick for my fellow ambulance personnel. After an accident people will often feel fine and this is the effects of adrenaline pumping around the body. Then, as the adrenaline leaves the bloodstream, the person becomes a lot more 'shaky', and may feel sick. It's best to wait until this 'shaky' time is over before you leave them. Sometimes the effects of this will let you persuade the patient to come to hospital.

Gladys didn't get shaky.

I sat chatting to her for twenty minutes, and she was fine throughout. She was adamant that she be allowed to continue on her train journey home. If she'd lived in London I would have taken her home myself. Unfortunately I think that Control would have a dim view of me wandering across into Kent.

And this is where I was impressed by the staff at the Underground station – not only had they looked after her really well while they called for the ambulance, but they then arranged to have her met by staff at the other end of her tube journey. The staff would also talk to the tube driver so that he could keep an eye on her. Then one of the Underground staff stayed with her on the platform until she got on the train.

Top service.

I wasn't hugely happy about her heading off on her own, but she seemed a sensible soul and she wouldn't be on her own sitting in a busy tube train. She also promised to call an ambulance if she felt unwell at any point, and as she lives in a warden controlled flat she wouldn't be alone there either.

All that was left to do was the paperwork (meticulously written to cover my back should anything happen to Gladys), then get ready for the next job.


Over the weekend both my brother and I will be at the Birmingham Comic Convention. Where I may be pimping a script idea for a comic about ambulances. If you are around feel free to say hello.

14 thoughts on “Tough As Old Boots”

  1. I think its lovely that you wanted to give Gladys a lift home, and the way the Underground staff organised things is fantastic! I can totally understand Gladys' feelings about not wanting to go to hospital though. Bendy Girl

  2. “A little trick for my fellow ambulance personnel. After an accident people will often feel fine and this is the effects of adrenaline pumping around the body. Then, as the adrenaline leaves the bloodstream, the person becomes a lot more 'shaky', and may feel sick. It's best to wait until this 'shaky' time is over before you leave them. Sometimes the effects of this will let you persuade the patient to come to hospital.”I experienced exactly this after falling from the horse and breaking my leg. Apart from being concussed I felt fine at first, but after about 20 mins I was shivering and shakey. At first I could hardly feel the pain in my leg. As I'd probably been KO'd and despite the fact I was sat up the crew decided to collar and board me just in case. They explained that the pain of the fracture could be hiding pain in my back and neck. I also felt rather sickly which wasn't good for going in a helicopter. I also couldn't have any morphine as this has made me badly sick in the past so they didn't want to risk it even with the anti sickness drugs they'd given me. It turned out my back and neck were fine, but I'm glad they took the precaution, even if it did mean I didn't get to see the view from the chopper!

  3. I got hit by a car a few years ago, and was foolish enough to demonstrate that my knee didn't hurt by jumping up and down on it.Later… it hurt. Probably more than it would have done if I'd just sat down and waited for the ambo.

    Justin.

  4. Yay for the tube train staff!My mum in law (who is very deaf) got on the wrong train, because she couldn't hear the change of platform announcements, (think what a bewildering place a main line train station must be if you are deaf.) I received two calls from a member of staff, telling me where she was; how they were going to get her back to the right station and who was assisting her. Then a third call, from the same member of staff, to ask 'I am doing my NVQ in customer care, could I put your name down as a reference please?' Of course he could! and spot on that staff are taught how to care!

  5. Britain was BUILT on old ladies like that, more power to her!And it's good to see some praise from Tube workers. In fact, a nice story all round. Yay.

  6. I can't remember which country it was in but I do remember a few years ago an old lady in her 90s survived for about a week under a collapsed building. (Might have been an earthauake somewhere).Sometimes old people and tiny babies seem to be the strongest with these things.

  7. I have found the underground staff very helpful and grateful in the past. I helped with a lady who had falled a few steps down the escalator at Euston. The underground first aider was very grateful as she had only been a qualified first aider for a week. The casualty was passed to the station OH? nurse with possible # arm. I was rewarded with a big mug of tea in the staff room.The old lady surviving the earthquake was in the 1980's Italian quake – she survived eating chillies!!

    My Grandma bounced around a few times in the past (Alas sadly popped her clogs last year aged 90) – thank goodness for strong bones!

    It is amazing how strong older folk are and will carry on regardless!

  8. I've got a G'ma like that – she must have been a cat in a past live with 9 lives!I'd like to know if that is the sort of job that makes you wake up each morning (or evening!) and be happy to be who you are, doing what you are doing.

    I am in the middle of the EMT recruitment process (out of London, since LAS nipped that opportunity in the bud!) and need to know if what I am giving up now (house & unfulfilling job in France, to come 'home' to help the 'needy') will be worth it. I've followed this blog for a good while now (cracking book too BTW!) and I think I know the answer or I wouldn't be contemplating it, but insider's support & comments are always nice to have …

    Keep up the good work

  9. When my gran was in her nineties she was looking after a blind daughter and her sister with Alzheimer's. She passed on nine years ago having seen her daughter die of cancer before she did. Also believe it or not – her sister is a multi-millionaire who has hoarded every penny and lived with my gran in a council house all her life. The sister is now 101 and still lives in the same house. Her motto is If she can't take it with her, she ain't going!BTW. Don't think about making friends with me. I'm not in the will.

  10. Forgot to mention. In 1942, my gran gave birth to her youngest son under a metal frame bed in an air raid shelter during a bombing raid. They don't make 'em like her anymore. RIP gran.

  11. I was taken ill on the Tube about 3 years ago – horrible vomiting prior to gall stone diagnosis. Staff were absolutely superb with me. Nice to know Gladys got the same consideration.

  12. I had this after falling down a 20ft sea cliff and landing on sharp rocks (stupid thing to do I know). I had gashes and bruises everywhere and had to swim in the sea to a boat but I was fine afterwards I even wanted to drive the boat :s. Although I admit I felt a little queezy as grit was picked out all my cuts at the surgery. I think the adrenaline kept going through my veins for days though!

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