For the past four or five months I have been coasting at work. It's not really my fault, it's just that none of my patients have been… challenging.
I've been going to a seemingly endless supply of patients who either do not need an ambulance because their 'illness' is so minor, or have had such simple problems that helping them doesn't require much in the way of thought.
I haven't had to 'blue light' a patient into hospital for this period.
And so I find myself settling into a fug of relaxed 'easy jobs'. Nothing much requires thought and, for many of my calls all I need to do is a set of basic observations and write down a name and date of birth.
It seems to last forever, being able to walk through my workday without having to think, without having any worry.
It makes the days go very slowly.
Then I turn up to a patient, one who, to start with, doesn't seem too unwell.
But then he begins to get worse, he's getting a lot worse.
He starts sweating, he starts edging around collapsing, he asks me if he's going to die.
Suddenly, after months of sleepwalking through my day, I'm having to make decisions. I'm throwing drugs into him. Hell, I'm giving him drugs and I can't remember the last time I gave them.
We blue light to hospital and I'm eyeing up the ventilator, wondering if I'm going to have to use it when he stops breathing.
We get to the hospital and the doctor there does a stunning save. No faffing about, just straight in there with the best treatment.
By the time I've completed my paperwork, cleaned and restocked the ambulance and washed my hands, the patient has turned the corner – we part company with him shaking my hand and thanking me.
Which, you know, is not a bad way to end the day.
The trick is to be prepared for that worrying call. To not let the nearly endless stream of simple stuff blind you to the occasional, but important, serious job. You must not let yourself be caught out by it.
And lets face it, that's a lesson that works outside of the medical field.
Now, I have a serious question for any ambulance people who read this blog, and I think the answer will say a lot about the state of the ambulance services in the UK.
Who is the top EMS educator in the UK?