Category Archives: Things That Amuse Me—

An Example Of Social Media

Yesterday Google released it's 'Streetview' service in the UK. This allows people who use Google's mapping website to look at panoramic photographs of the areas covered.

The first place that I looked was for my house, sadly the Google camera car stopped one street away. I looked for my Mum's house, and again the photographs stopped one street away.

Then I looked for my ambulance station.

View Larger Map

All very clever, and as the streets are public, not a problem. Anyone with nefarious purposes are better served by actually visiting the place in question. For example, in these pictures of our station, you can't see the security cameras…

But then I thought about the road outside Newham hospital, had the camera car been down there?

Sure enough they had, and what was shown was a patient being unloaded from an ambulance.

Now, I'm not too sure if the road that the hospital on is public property or not, but ethically there is surely an expectation of privacy when you are on an ambulance or being wheeled into A&E? It is this expectation of privacy which is important1.
Being a bit busy I just twittered about it and thought nothing more about it.


However it would seem that someone with a bit more energy behind their ethical standing took notice of it and reported the image to Google, and being generally good guys, they quickly removed it.

Then today I saw exactly the same picture printed in The Metro, with a screaming headline about privacy concerns. Really, if they were that concerned about privacy, they shouldn't have printed the picture along with the story…

I suspect that someone on the Metro reads my twitter feed (actually, I personally know someone who does, but they are quite smart and are unlikely to have been involved in printing the picture). But what it does show is the surprising speed of information via various 'social media' networks.


For those that listen along, the next Podcast thing is up where I apologise for the delay between 'casts and read the next half an hour of my first book. You can find it here.

1Here is an excellent guide for UK Photographers and the law.

If I Only Had A Little More Time…

I have ideas. Terrible, dark, painful ideas.

But I'm not talking about those today. Instead I'm talking about the ideas that I have about doing things with the internet. It was as I was looking at some of my hosting providers I realised that I have a terrible habit of having a good idea, registering a URL and then utterly forgetting about it and/or just not having the time to do anything with it.

Here are some of the URLs that I own and short notes on what I wanted to do with them.


This was going to be a site where all the ambulance news in the UK would be posted up. I realised that I wasn't a news editor very early on in my blogging 'career' and so the sites have lay fallow.


I was thinking about running a UK 'Blogher' conference – a place for women who are active in the blogging/internet world to have a bloody good chat and learn from each other. I suspect I'll never have the time, or expertise, to sort this out. So I throw it open to anyone who is interested in doing this.


Heaven only knows – I got these URLs years ago – I suspect it was going to be some sort of blog scraping site – or maybe a groupblog.


My brilliant 'get rich quick' scheme – a 'one-stop-shop for purchasing blogger related items, if you wanted a Scaryduck t-shirt, you could come to this site and get one. I'm still trying to think about such 'accessory goods' for this site, it's a shame I don't have a logo that I can stick on mugs and then sell to my readers. Perhaps I should work on it…


It was going to be a weekly webcomic. Unfortunately it all fell through due to lack of time. However I am working on some new scripts which may see the light of day, perhaps under this URL. Ultimately I'd need an artist. Either that or throw them up under a Creative Commons license.


This was going to be a fan site/Podcast for the Warhammer:Age of Reckoning online game. Unfortunately Warcraft dragged me back with the Wrath of the Lich King expansion. W:AR is a bloody good game though.


Another blog – it was going to be an 'encyclopaedia' detailing the 'small gods' of London, such as the God you pray to in order to find a parking spot, or the God that you give offerings to in order to avoid the attentions of the free-paper distributor on the street corner.


Aggregation site for people who blogged about their jobs.


Was going to be another aggregation site for… you guessed it, Podcasts related to health.


Three gaming/guild forum sites – one for City of Heroes, one for a Live Action Roleplay game and one for a guild I set up in World of Warcraft. Knightsofalbion and realheroesunion may still be active…


Aggregation site of Podcasts lasting less than five minutes. Hour long podcasts are fine, but sometimes you just want something to dip into.


Pretty much used for hosting images and the like for this site to avoid potential bandwidth issues – when I can be bothered I'll set up a redirect to this blog.


I was going to run a forum based off the website, something that never really happened, although there is an empty forum over here that I was going to run but then realised that there wasn't really a direction for it, so what would be the point.


Potential Podcast named for Stuff That Interests Me. Never even got off the ground.


Either a political activism blog, or a website for a Roleplaying game I was going to run. Think 'X-Files' crossed with 'Network'.


I think I was drunk at the time. Possibly related to, only detailing the fictional miracle workers that live in cities. Think 'Neverwhere'. May have been a gaming resource. May have also been a way to link up the various 'Magikal' practitioners of London. Have a guess.


Not actually dead. The idea is to have a 90 second video podcast reviewing books/gadgets/technology/news as a way to present ideas in small chunks. After I stalled following a few example episodes I really should get working on it again. Especially now that I've found the power lead for my camcorder and read a book on Final Cut Express.


A site that would have encouraged people to document where CCTV cameras were placed. I still have the first post sitting in a folder on my computer somewhere along with the pictures of the 40 CCTV cameras I passed on the way to my local newsagent.


I was drunk at the time. I think I was watching 'I Am Legend'. Dunno. I'm so good at this internet stuff that I can arrange Domains after two bottles of wine. Just don't ask me why I arranged them.


Supposedly a blog of all the non-ambulance things that I fancy writing about. It would be updated more if I had a shade more free time. I think I may turn it into a pure short fiction site. Get me into practice for the potential 'Book Three'.


Another World of Warcraft gaming Guild site. But no-one joined so has sat there gathering dust. Nobody loves me. *Sob*.


The complete collection of all my writings, including Twitter updates. Mainly put in place for those who use RSS feeders that can't read the RSS feed on this site.


I may still get around to doing this – essentially it was going to be the homepage of the Twitter feed of transmissions sent supposedly from the future. Part apocalyptic, part war-story and part Utopian hope. All in under 140 characters at a time.


This site I really want to do. A cynical/ironic 'mock news' approach to encroaching technology. 'Campaigning' for universal databases and bar code tattoos in order to 'fight crime and terrorism' – in reality to allow the highly advanced AI computer system of the future to enslave mankind. The NHS database is a fine target for this. I'd love to still do this (in part because I think it's important), but… I think I need partners for this one.


As you can tell, I have the ideas but seldom follow up on them, partly because of a lack of time and partly because it's awful tricky doing these sorts of thins on your own. So, lets open this out for people – if there is anything you would like to give me a hand with, anything that you would like to take on yourself or anything that you think shouldn't be allowed to languish in the back of my mind while I grind reputation in world of Warcraft, please let me know. I'd especially like to take into an actual physical form, perhaps as a group-blog.

Of course, the big idea that I had that I know I haven't the technical skills to handle would be the Amazon-like site that lets you collate and download any e-book from the number of publishers that create such things. There are e-books out there that people can't find because they are on the individual publishers website or because the Waterstones e-book search is so awful it makes my eyes bleed.

But it's hard to do any of this when large chunks of my time at home away from work are devoted to recovering from the previous twelve hour shift. My sex drive sadly died last year for much the same reason, but I need to fight having my brain just turn to mush and drip out my ears.

Don't I?

Getting High On Someone Else’s Supply

I am a known lightweight when it comes to laughing gas.

The evidence…

Ripped to the tits.JPG

So, when you are a patient in my ambulance it really isn't in your best interest to breath this painkilling and euphoric gas so hard and fast that the majority of it is blowing out your nose.

Into the cab.

Where I am.

Because if you do, I will be getting high like yourself – and feeling sick…

(Currently struggling with a post that is resisting being beaten into shape and tackling statistical analysis for another, as yet unwritten, post).

The Future Of The NHS

Seasonal Affective Disorder – You know it's getting bad when you look at the blank, white page of your blogging software and your mind just shuts down.

So lets tell you about the future of the NHS, and how it's going to drive me crazy.

On my patch we have a hospital. This hospital has two buildings, one is the traditional hospital that all UK residents know and love, corridors, wards, doctors, porters, nurses, radiologists and others walking around. Slightly grubby, dodgy café, doctors running clinics.

The other building, 400 yards down the road is shiny and new. It is 'nurse led', there are posh coffee bars, the floors and walls are clean. Not much in the way of wards, but this building is only supposed to be used for day-case surgery. Nurses run the clinics and there is a sculpture outside. This is the future of the NHS, a pre-polyclinic polyclinic.

Which is why I'm surprised to find myself responding to a standard 'chest pain' inside this building.

The patient is there to see one of the nurse clinics, she develops a bit of chest pain and the first thing that the nurse in charge does is dial 999 for an ambulance.

I get there second as one of our FRUs was parked within sight of it. As I enter the room, not only have they moved the patient (resulting in us having to do a bit of searching) but there is a bit of a flap going on.

You se, a doctor has been called and he is panicking. He's shouting orders to the FRU, orders which could be extremely dangerous (for the medics in the audience he wants us to give GTN/NTG before checking a blood pressure). Our patient is sitting quite happily in her wheelchair watching our FRU take quiet control of the situation.

This is an absolute 'meat and potatoes' call for us, we deal with this sort of thing day in and day out – just by observing the patient and listening to her we suspect that it isn't her heart that is causing the pain.

But the doctor is screaming about getting 'crash carts' into the room and the nurses are running backwards and forwards like headless chickens. A manager from the other site arrives looking flustered – they confide in me that they turned up because they were worried about what these staff 'were up to'.

After a little more kerfuffle we wheel the patient down to the ambulance, do an ECG (which is normal) and transport her the very short distance to the A&E department where, after some more ECGs and blood tests, is diagnosed with indigestion.

I'm reminded of my nursing days when I saw a GP doing the world's worst CPR on a woman who had pretended to faint – I would have thought her trying to fight him off may have given him a clue that it wasn't a cardiac arrest.

This isn't a post about daft doctors and silly nurses though, after all if I were called upon to anaesthetise someone I'd certainly make a pig's ear of it. We do have our own area of expertise and I can't expect everyone to be as expert in the emergency treatment of chest pain as myself.


This was a 'nothing' call, even without the benefit of hindsight – but as it was seen as an 'emergency', the best thing that the staff could think of was to call and ambulance and then a 'crash doctor' (and heaven alone knows why he was the only one to turn up, perhaps that's all they have staffing the crash team).

This points to there being a distinct lack of planning around what happens when something unusual happens, I'd dread to think what would happen if the patient had suffered a full cardiac arrest – they would have been little better off than collapsing in the street.

So, this is the future – you go to the nice, clean, artistically designed hospital for a minor treatment – but if you have a serious complication or something untoward happens the first thing they'll do is call for two blokes in a clapped out van.

Maybe it's just cheaper to 'outsource' emergency care to the ambulance service, maybe the next big thing for the NHS will be ambulances being called to deal with in-hospital cardiac arrests because then you won't need to pay for a full 'Crash team'.

I'm hopeful that somewhere in the planning for this 'healthcare centre' a manager getting paid a serious multiple of my pay-packet didn't think, 'well, if there is an emergency we can save money by just calling for an ambulance'.

I hope.

Almost completely unrelated – my mum went to her hospital a few days ago and was told by a doctor that she should 'drink lots of water so that she doesn't catch diabetes', at which point she walked out in disgust. The same doctor recommended physiotherapy for something that would only be made worse by it. So its not just me that sees this sort of thing.

Even more unrelated – does anyone know a good (or want to set up a) heavy RP guild on Warhammer:Age of Reckoning Ellyrion EU server? Edited to say *Obviously* for the side of Order…

Going Sarf

Normally if I get sent to someone who isn't 'sick' I'll start grinding my teeth and begin composing angry blogposts in my head. However, sometimes it's great to go to someone who isn't acutely ill.

We were on the edge of our patch following our last job and were dismayed to find that the current job was going to send us far, far out of our area. We assumed that it wasn't going to be an easy job either as it was sent to us as 'Mentally ill man, walking down middle of the road'. The last job I remember like this the man was 6'2″ tall, naked and covered in his own faeces…

But the police were the ones who called us, so we guessed that the scene would be safe.

Our patient turned out to be in his fifties and suffering from dementia. A check showed that he hadn't suffered any physical harm. The police had already determined where he came from – he'd escaped from his care home two days ago. He'd also crossed the river so in order to return him home we'd have to head into the dreaded South London.

To be honest, I don't know why the police didn't return him themselves – I suppose that there was a fear that they would miss some tricky medical condition. Or maybe it was just that they share our dislike of crossing the Thames.

It's their own fault then that they didn't get to meet the care staff, nor have the satisfaction of being thanked and seeing the patient returned home safely.

It actually seemed like a nice home, the carers seemed decent people and

I commented on the security bars over the windows of the home to one of the staff, suggesting that it should have made it harder for our patient to escape.

“Oh”, she said, “that's not to keep the residents in, it's to stop the locals from smashing the windows and stealing the residents property”.

Is it any wonder I don't like going South of the River? At least in my part of London all we have to worry about is terrorists.

And if I can be allowed one bit of snark at the expense of two people who might be found innocent, is it any wonder the NHS is in the state it's in if doctors (who are supposed to be smart) can 'mastermind' one of the crazier attempts at bombing civilians? Exploding gas cylinders? Really? Is that the best they could come up with? Still they did manage to get one half of suicide bombing right.

I mean – civilian crazies are better at making things explode, even if it is at the wrong time.

Please note, all disparaging remarks about being South of the River, and of the inhabitants of South London being the sort of people who eat their own children have been made purely for comedic effect.

And when did Iceland become terrorists?, I mean, there isn't any other reason to use anti-terror legislation is there?

‘Bird’ Means…Oh Never Mind.

It's great to see the discussion going on in the comment section of the last post. I love the fact that people here can disagree politely.

This story is a little segment from the LAS internal 'magazine' that I've scanned in direct. IT just highlights the sorts of jobs that we can find ourselves going on. I've written before about my call to a dead dog.

Internal News Story

Finally, and perhaps a little cryptically, 'Moab Is My Washpot', thank you very much.

On Video

Obviously I am superb at everything that I turn my hand to. To believe otherwise would mark you out as a fool.

So when the Open Rights Group asked for volunteers to star in a promotional video it would have been dreadful not to give them the benefit of my Oscar wining acting style.

So here I am.

Who's Watching Who? from Dean Whitbread on Vimeo.

(What you should perhaps keep in mind is that I was asked to 'ham it up')

For those with lower bandwidth you can also watch this on Youtube.

And if anyone is at the Green Party Conference, I shall be manning the ORG stall there. I may also threaten some bunnies with death and cooking if they don't all join immediately.

That should work.

Handy iPhone Software

Over on Mental Kipple I thought up some ideas for iPhone applications that I'd like to see.

The one most relevant to people who read this ambulance blog is #10

10) A copy of the BNF for offline reading, and not for £100+ please.

And what should I find on release but Epocrates Rx, a free application that does much the same as the BNF (British National Formulary, a list of all the drugs in circulation) but will also help me out when I come across pills in unmarked boxes and makes it easy to look up potential drug interactions.

Trust me when I say that it is infuriating to ask a patient what medications they take and they don't know and instead hand me a plastic box with half a dozen different pills in it.

It can be especially dangerous when we want to give them drugs of our own but have to be careful about it interacting with the patient's own medicine.

Really rather quite handy and quick to look at when I don't have my BNF to hand. The only problem is that it is American software and they have some different drug names that us Brits, but it is good for some things and is definitely worth what I paid for it.

I still want #2 though,

2) An Augmented Reality Game, perhaps crossed with social software overtones – consider if you will a game that is location based to where you *really* are. Using the location services in the phone (either original iPhone, or the AGPS of the 3G iPhone)

Anyone writing one want a story consultant? Or have we enough coders here who could group together to write such a thing under my benign dictatorship…?

Some Degree Of Schadenfreude

A hospital has admitted clamping ambulances for parking infringements and charging £50 for their release.

Security staff at King's College Hospital, south London, are clamping the non-emergency ambulances for spending too long in drop-off bays.

These ambulances are privately run ambulances who took up the contracts for patient transport. This is something that the LAS used to do in London, but then with the sneaking privatisation of the NHS the private companies started to do things cheaper and so the LAS lost a lot of these contracts.

They have, as far as I know, no exemptions to where they can park (unlike us proper emergency ambulances).

I'm not quite sure how “They clamp ambulances parked for more than an hour “to allow other vehicles into the area,” works though, surely if they are clamped then they are still blocking the area?

I don't know, I'm an ambulance driver, not an ambulance parker. And if you've ever seen me park, that much is pretty obvious.