Category Archives: News

Pre-Stabbing

After a long stretch of work (including the sheer and bloody horror that is getting in to work at 6am), I finally have a few days off. I have a feeling of utter joy at the huge stack of laundry that stares at me whenever I enter my bedroom. Maybe if you all buy my second book1

I also find myself laughing at the ineptitude of the terrorists of today. Burning a car is a local pastime for the children around my area, and they aren't daft enough to set themselves on fire. As for the London car bombs – I could make a better bomb. It seems that if they are really al-Qeada, then that bunch of stone-age wannabes are really scraping the bottom of the barrel.2

I'm not scared of terrorism, no-one I work with is scared of terrorism3. We recognise that the chance of dying in a terrorist attack is much, much smaller than the numerous other causes of death and injury that we face everyday.4 What makes us more nervous is considering what the British government might do in response to these pitiful attacks.


The other thing that has been in the news is another cluster of stabbings in London. It was only a few nights ago that I found someone in what I like to call a 'pre-stabbed' state.

Seventeen years old, he'd come home from 'hanging around' in another part of town. While standing around on a street corner some men in a car had pulled up, grabbed him and beaten him up. No reason for this attack was given. He had a few minor injuries – a head wound that could be glued together, some grazing to his arms that could do with a clean up and a nose that was swollen.

The police arrived at the house moments after we got there, as he wasn't seriously injured I told the police that they could get their interview done before we took the boy to hospital.

Of course, it wouldn't be as simple as that – he started off by claiming that he didn't know where he had been 'hanging out'. He also didn't know who he had been with, what type of car the assailants had been driving, what they had looked like or even his friend's home address or phone number. He wasn't going to tell the police anything.

All of this was given in a terrible Jafaken accent (the accent du jour around these parts, always hilarious to us emergency workers).

My local knowledge let us know where the assault took place, it's just down the road from where I live, and I know the 'kids' do so love to stand on that particular corner eating their chips and play chicken with the traffic.

But that was all he would say, the police understandably decided not to waste any more time with him. So our patient and his mum walked onto the back of the ambulance and we headed off to hospital. While in the back his mum told me how he was always getting beaten up, that she had tried to stop him going out and meeting up with the wrong sort of people. She'd enrolled him in college and recognised that he was walking a thin line. He'd already been convicted of a minor crime and she was obviously concerned that he may end up in more serious trouble.

So I gave him my lecture about the people who we pick up having been stabbed – how they are mostly people like him. That they hang around in gangs, that they indulge in minor crime and that they tend not to listen to their mums. I told him how you lose all your macho attitude when you have half a dozen stab-wounds in you. It's an attempt, no matter how pointless, to try and scare them into turning their backs on that kind of life.

1 Yes, there should be a sequel; this blogpost also took an hour longer to write than it should because I was trying to find a way to write superscript elements in Ecto without having to handcode them in the HTML view. Then I realised that the Rich text view won't show it anyway. Now I'm having a nice cup of tea.

2 I'm of the strong belief that we should mock terrorists, we shouldn't call people 'suicide bombers', instead they should be referred to as 'Brainwashed morons who blow themselves up because of superstitious fairy tales from the middle ages'. The pleasure of being an atheist…

3 Most of us can remember living under the IRA for a start. I long for the days of 'Special Black' rather than 'Critical'.

4 Look at my driving for instance…

Paramedic Tackles Gunman

A paramedic who tackled a wheelchair-bound gunman has been hailed a hero.

Garry Perkins was honoured for his bravery by a crown court judge after he and a colleague came face-to-face with the armed man during a routine call-out.

But when they arrived at the house the two paramedics found Ian Wilson, who has no legs, sitting in his wheelchair asking for morphine.

But while Mr Perkins called the man’s GP, he noticed a gun on a radiator.

He said: “We both saw it and looked at each other, then the man produced a gun from down the side of his wheelchair and pointed it at John, smiling.

Myself? I would have either thrown him the drugs and told him to take them all at once – then call out the armed police, or just run.

That the man was in a wheelchair is neither here nor there, you can shoot from a wheelchair as numerous paralympic medal-winners have shown. I've also known wheelchair users who have run quite successful drug dealing businesses.

I particularly like one of the comments left on the site that says,

I have had the dubious 'pleasure' of having met Mr Wilson as a result of my job, and although on the face of it, it is hard to believe that a man with no legs, and confined to his wheelchair could be a threat to anyone,believe me he is a very threatening, aggressive and thoroughly odious little man. Good work from the Paramedics.

Just a snapshot of the sorts of things we can walk into.

Many thanks to the reader who sent me this story.

Community Care

I had an interesting job yesterday, but for various legal reasons I’ll have to wait a bit before posting about it.  You’ll see why when I do post about it.

One of the things that the newspapers seem to like to do is to stir up trouble between different racial groups, one need look no further than the amount of press given to the Forest Gate demonstration last week – less than 100 people turned up, and yet it was ‘important’ news.

Actually living and working in Newham gives you a much better picture of how people get along, and it has nothing to do with mainstream media’s attempts to split us apart on behalf of various vested interest groups.

I was sent to a ‘little old lady’ who had fallen over earlier in the day, she had been found by her next door neighbour who looked after her.

My little old lady was White British, while the family who looked in after her were Bangladeshi Muslim.

For a number of years they had helped her and her husband, checking in with them to make sure that everything was alright, the son of the neighbours would help out around the house,

When my patients husband had died, the family only stepped up the amount of help they gave her.

So it was the neighbours son who had found her and called us.  It took us some time to deal with the patient – she had an obviously broken hip and we needed to give her a large amount of painkillers before we could move her.  During this time the Bangladeshi mother and son stood watching, making sure that she was alright.  The mother spoke no English, but even I could recognise her prayers.

As we loaded the patient into the ambulance both the mother and father were praying, and it brought a smile to my face when their son shouted at then, “Will you both stop that, we aren’t in the village anymore”.

When the patient’s real son turned up he appeared more concerned about the inconvenience that his mothers fall was causing him.  The neighbour’s son was more concerned with her health.

 

This is what I see – I see communities working together and looking after each other, not because of government sponsored ‘multi-racial community days’ but because, quite simply, we all live together.  The only thing is that you don’t hear about these small acts of humanity when so-called ‘community leaders’ are shouting about perceived unfairness.

Meal-Breaks

For the first time *ever*, ambulance crews are going to have rest breaks.

For too long we have been working 12 hours a day without a break.  Sure, we may be able to sneak a cup of tea at hospital, but if you take longer than half an hour to unload patient, handover to nurse, clean and restock the ambulance and finish your paperwork so that the patient can’t sue you, then we often get asked if we could ‘green up’ for another call.  Trust me when I say that it can easily take longer than half an hour to do all the above.

We rarely get to see our station, too many people call us and we simply don’t have enough ambulances to deal with all the drunks, cut fingers and coughs and colds that we get sent to.

European legislation means that we should all get a short ‘rest break’.  If you work for 12 hours, is it really too much to ask for a half hour break at some point?

Apparently it is too much to ask for ‘The Sun’.

Some journalist, who can no doubt have plenty of cups of tea during her day, decides to attack our service for (a) following the law, and (b) treating it’s staff like human beings who need feeding and watering.

It can be hard work on an ambulance, while a lot of our work is fairly simple, there are days when, not only are you run ragged, but you also have a string of tricky jobs.  Why shouldn’t we be like everyone else and get a break.  The police have meal-breaks, nurses have meal-breaks, doctors have meal-breaks and the fire service have meal-breaks (if I were being uncharitable I say that the fire service have occasional breaks in their meals for work).

So why should we be any different?

We make enough sacrifices for this job – shift work knocks years off your life, wrecks your health and social life.  We go into dangerous situations on a daily basis, get beaten up and sit in enclosed spaces with infectious patients.  We also don’t get paid enough considering how the government keeps expecting us to hold together the tatters of the NHS.  Until we got breaks we would also be eating unhealthily, wolfing down fast food between jobs, so physical fitness is a concern for us – gym memberships are a waste of money when you work half the time they are open.

So ‘The Sun’, rag that it is, wants us to work like robots.  Instead they should ask why, despite meeting targets,despite an annual increase in calls, despite being told we should cover the shortfall in GPs and A&Es the government has taken money away from us.  Ask why we can’t have more ambulances?  Ask why we have to go to people who have stubbed their toe, got a wart on their foot or have ‘man-flu’?  Ask why, after dark, it’s us and the A&E departments against the world as all the psychiatric teams, social workers and care home staff vanish along with the sun.

Maybe that would be proper journalism.

I’m already hearing about crews getting abused due to this article, one person reports being shouted at while having a sandwich, while another received abuse from a patient with a cut finger (needing only a plaster) – all because they think we should be running around ‘saving lives’.  It only needs someone to abuse me on this subject and they would get a lecture on how you shouldn't believe everything that you read in your chip wrapper.

In reality meal-breaks won’t make much difference in responding to emergency calls, it just means that the ‘stubbed toe brigade’ will have to wait half an hour for their free taxi to hospital, while true emergency calls will be covered as well as they are at present.  Being able to have a protected break may also mean crews will  be refreshed, meaning that they will ‘green up’ that bit faster, improving our response to those genuine calls.