“Eighty-nine ear old female, stuck in the bath”.
One of our 'regular' types of calls are to the elderly who have taken a tumble, normally while going to the toilet in the middle of the night, sometimes they just slip out of their bed. We turn up, we pick them up, dust them off, and go on our merry way with the patient's thanks ringing in our ears.
'Stuck in the bath', is not something we often do.
Let me explain how difficult it is for two ambulance staff to get someone out of the bath.
First, the bathroom is often tiny, and the bath is normally up against a wall. What this means is that our usual method of hoiking up someone can't be used. Normally we'd each take an arm and lift, but with the wall in the way you can only get under one arm.
Next the patient is wet and naked. This makes them embarrassed and slippery. Neither of which is conducive to an easy lift.
Finally we often have to lift them over the lip of the bath, which means lifting them higher than we normally would.
We arrive at the patient's house to find that she is well and truly stuck – she's using a lifting gizmo that she sits on, but this seems to have stopped working. She's also not the lightest person in the world.
Thankfully she has a very upbeat nature and, after getting a dressing gown on her, we start to attack the problem.
What we can sometimes do is a 'top and tail' (which will probably make any manual handling person cry out in horror), essentially one of us comes from behind the patient and lifts under their armpits while the other ambulance person lifts the patient's legs.
Unfortunately, because of the shape of the lifting device if we needed to put her down in a hurry (which can happen during a lift) she would find herself sitting on two rather pointy looking bits of metal.
I had a delve around the lifting device to see if I could fix it, but it was well and truly stuck.
Time for backup.
We have a wonderful bit of kit called a Mangar Elk – essentially it's an inflatable cushion – you put the patient on it when it is deflated then pump it up. It expands and the patient comes up with it. I've used it in the past and it's been a real godsend.
Unfortunately we don't carry one on every vehicle, so we called for a station officer to fetch one from the ambulance station.
We waited for only a short while before the officer turned up, handed us the bag and gave a look that seemed to say 'I hope you folks know how to use this bit of kit'.
Thankfully I did, we would get our patient to rock from one side to the other so we could get the cushion under her, then inflate it and Bob would be your uncle.
The patient did as she asked and moved to one side.
And then her lifting device started to lift her up.
Click, click, click it went.
Up and up she went until she could swing her legs over the bath and, with a bit of assistance, get out of the bath.
The officer looked at us as if we had called him out for a joke.
So we had a chat with the patient, a bit of a laugh and then went on our merry way. The officer taking the unused Mangar Elk back to the station.
At essence a simple job, but one that was a bit more complicated than normal.