'Male, collapsed in alleyway ?attacked”
We are supposed to wait for the police before we go to such jobs, just in case the attackers are still on scene. Like many ambulance crews we don't worry about such things if the text of the job doesn't set off our 'danger-sense'. This job was during the middle of the day and in the middle of a rather busy part of our patch.
If there is an assault in a public place we'll normally cruise up to it – if there is still something dangerous happening we'll be able to drive off quickly and wait around the corner.
In this case we arrived a few seconds before the police, they had followed us down the road. At first we couldn't see the patient, but then it soon became apparent that he'd wedged himself between a wall and some street furniture. The police were talking to a group of men who were standing nearby.
We approached the patient – there are two reasons why a person wedges themselves in place like that, the first is that they think that they are going to die, don't ask me why, but people just seem to do that, the other reason is that he is so drunk he thinks that he'l be safe and comfortable like that.
His face was turned away from us, and as we turned him over to see if he was still breathing we caught a whiff of alcohol, and if I can smell it then he must *really* be drunk.
Then we saw his face.
Swollen, misshapen and with missing teeth, he'd obviously been seriously beaten. The way that he didn't resist when we pulled him out of his cubby hole made me aware how badly he had been hurt. Something clicked in his arm as we rolled him onto his back.
Now, in an ideal world we would put a hard neck collar on him before we moved him, but as we were unsure if he were breathing properly clearing his airway takes priority (as it always does).
We stepped our speed up a gear – a quick assessment showed that the patient was deeply unconscious. Time to load him onto the ambulance, stabilise him and drive past one hospital to get him to a hospital with neurological surgeons.
As we got him into the ambulance he started to twitch, a sign that there may have been brain or nerve damage. We cut his clothes off to make sure that he hadn't been stabbed somewhere, secured him to the bed and made ready to leave under blue lights.
One of the policemen poked his head into the back of the ambulance, “How is he”, he asked.
“Potentially life-threatening”, I answered – that's the phrase that gets the police's attention, and in this case it was certainly true. Without a CT scan and other investigations I couldn't be sure if the patient's unconsciousness was due to drink or due to his brain being rattled around his skull.
“I'll follow you up to the hospital then”, said the policeman and he ran to his car.
So we blue-lighted him into hospital where we later learned that the patient was sent to intensive care.
But that wasn't the end of the story.
To Be Continued…