What Necks…..?

December 14, 2006


 Correct Scarf Positioning

I seem to be having a bit of a Victor Meldrew phase at the moment.

What is it with people wearing scarfs in a what can only be described as a hoity, toity, dandy, fandy, quasi fashion statement?  


Incorrect Scarf Postioning

A scarf is an article of material used for the warming of ones neck region during weather of a rather inclement nature i.e. when its cold. The said strip of material, hereon in refered to as the scarf, can be of many types of cloth. Ideally it should be woven from wool or a good hard wearing tweed. Colours can be bright or subdued dependant on the wearers taste.

But, and this is the point of all this pointless drivel, it should be crossed and folded from underneath the first crossed section. Not intertwined in some convuluted statement of architecture. Its a scarf to keep you warm, not high street fashion for Gods sake! 

Next installment….”Is skimmed milk just coloured water?”


Freedom of Speech….

December 13, 2006


I,ve recently read xfiles blog http://journals.aol.co.uk/thexfileman/TheParamedicsDiary/ and was dismayed to hear that he has been getting grief off colleagues at work. I know that xfiles does not name patients, crews, locations or anything that might breech confidentiality.

If he has ruffled a few feathers then perhaps it is because those who feel agrieved have read his posts and recognised themselves. I dont think xfiles has defamed anyone and he has not gone out of his way to be confrontational.

So here lies the rub…like myself, like many others, xfiles has started his blog as a diary of sorts, a sounding board, a scrap book , a comment on our times. I have found it to be informative, theraputic at times and it has opened up a new world to me full of like minded people, not like minded people, funny people, sad people and every other type of person. So why have some people taken offence at xfiles blogging?

I can only put forward my opinions on why this is. Its not jealousy, its not vindictiveness, its not from a feeling of isolation, its not some form of paranoia seeing an underlying conspiracy. Its this….bullying!

When I first joined the Ambulance Service I was expecting to join people who were level headed and unbiased. And for the most part they were, and still are. But it soon became apparent that there was a culture within. This culture revolved around sexism, racism and any other “ism” you can think of. (You do need to bear in mind that in the service we do tend to use “dark humour” which is a survival instinct. Its to what degree does this affect your personality, your perceptions of others and your interactions with the outside world.)

A common theme within the inner culture was to never stand out, never try to better yourself. I was once almost sent to Coventry because I paid for myself to go on a course. A crime most heinous in the eyes of the old sweats of the inner clique. When I confronted the main antagonist of my seclusion he said that they dont like people “putting their head above the parapet!”. Over the years I have seen people ridiculed at every turn for showing keeness and/or enthusiasm and not allowing themselves to be lowered to the levels of the inner clique.

This was allowed to go on as it was seen that the inner clique were “good lads, a bit of a laugh, always up for a pint!”. I know that this applies mainly to the larger stations as the rural stations had a different mindset. What should be seen as friendly rivalry between crews/stations can turn into something more insidious. What large station does not say “we are the busiest!” and the smaller rural stations say “but we have a longer run in time to A/E so we do more with the patient!”.

Thats the usual banter up and down the country in every service. Its when people turn on each other without realising that they are being bullies thats the problem. Things that get said in the Ambulance Service would probaly get you the sack in other professions. If the Ambulance Service is not careful we will be going on “Diversity” courses the same as the Police do now.

I just find it abhorrent that just because someone blogs about something that someone else disagrees with they should be subjected to vilification or abuse. You, I, we have the right to be heard and it is a basic tenet of “Freedom of Speech!”. Before anyone says that the inner clique have the right to freedom of speech, they have, but it is not socially acceptable to be ignorant and definately not acceptable to bully.

I hasten to add that 99% of people in the Ambulance Service are well balanced individuals and I cant think of a better job to be in. Like everything nowadays its the few that spoil it for the rest!!

Rant over.



12 Days of Christmas…

December 12, 2006

I was going to post a razor sharp treatise on the ins and outs of the NHS and what the future holds in store for the pre-hospital care environment. Then I thought…..”naw, do it next time!”



The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the 12th. day of Christmas my control room did send to me:

  • 12 gents with chest pains,

  • 11 ladies a fainting,

  • 10 yobs with stab wounds,

  • 9 long bone fractures,

  • 8 pulmonary embolisms,

  • 7 kids with bruises,

  • 6 diabetic hypos,

  • 5 “Golden Hours!”

  • 4 blocked catheters,

  • 3 RTCs,

  • 2 epileptics fitting,

  • and a drunk leant against a lavatory!!!


Are we all in the Christmas spirit yet?



Booze Britain…

December 11, 2006


A rather interesting series of episodes on the binge drinking culture of our fair islands has been screened recently on digital T.V. To me it is just a rerun of all the jobs that I have attended at sometime or another in my career. To my wife, Mrs. Magic, it is a real eye opener. She is astounded at some of the antics that goes on in and around the drinking streets/establishments of our towns and cities. More than once I have had to explain that these are not isolated incidents….this is how it is on the streets (or in da hood!).

Firstly, the prelude to a “good night out”, is to start early at home with some friends. This can include knocking back a bottle each of “Buckfast” (a very potent tonic wine of the Scottish variety), drinking copious amounts of “Lambrini” (wine like lemonade which seems to appeal to women in white shoes and visiable thongs) and/or drinking plenty of spirits. As you would imagine some people are ratarsed before they even leave home!

Not content with getting as much booze down their necks in as short a time as possible, some even devise ways of absorbing the alcohol more quickly. One way is to “snort” the spirits through the nose (leads to faster absorbtion through the mucus membrane and bypasses the liver to a degree), and the other is the “strawpedo” whereby a straw is placed in the bottle and then contents are drunk very quickly leading to a quicker rush. It was interesting to see one lad who had vomitted 5 times already (once before he even left his house!), inhale his drink and then lo and behold he is ill again! 


What caught my attention in one episode was seeing a police officer actually arresting someone for being “drunk & incapable”! I thought I was seeing things….why cant this happen more often? I had my own preconceived ideas on this but they have now changed since reading “Wasting Police Time” by PC David Copperfield. A must read book! I did get the impression though that the police were trying to palm off some of the drunks onto either taxi drivers (who dont want vomitting passengers) or onto us the ambulance service. At the end of the day they should be charged a fee for going to hospital for a drink related issue or arrested and made to face the consequences of their actions! The drunks not the police.


Another thing that caught my attention was seeing an ambulance RRV/RFU running people home! Bollocks!! We have been trying for years to rid ourselves of this taxi image and here is someone giving the green light for drunks to think its okay to call an ambulance! Beggars belief!

But what else amazes me is….how much do these people earn that they can go out 3 or 4 times a week and get blitzed? We will see a massive increase in the numbers of chronic alcoholics and acute alcohol poisonings. What we need is zero tolerance for drink related crime….drunks/assaults/criminal damage etc. then maybe people will think twice about what they are doing. We live in hope!!! 


Eternal Youth…

December 8, 2006


Another job we did tonight was to a woman with chest pains. Nothing special about that…but this lady of 86 years was a breath of fresh air. To say she was cheerful would be an understatement. With all due respect, she was a game old bird!

She has had chest pains radiating into her left arm all day and kept putting off having to dial 999! She lives alone and her house is immaculate and full of souveniers and furniture from around the world. 

I asked her about her pains and we examined and treated her taking her blood pressure and 12 lead ECG (no ECG changes apart from slight ischaemia), gave oxygen, aspirin, and GTN spray. All the while she talked of her family and of her part time roles in two very famous TV soaps. After placing a cannula in the back of her hand we take her to the local Assessment Unit for further investigation.

She probaly has unstable angina and was peeved that she was going into hospital as she had so much to do. A very nice lady who I hope only has a short stay in hospital. Its nice to get a sincere thankyou from someone for a change rather than abuse.

Looking Through the Bottom of a Rose Tinted Glass…

December 8, 2006


Alcohol…killing our youth

 Our first job of the shift…called to an early twenties male on the other side of the city. Reported as being sick but with a psychie note attached to the data terminal message.

We arrived at the address and was asked in by a rather nervous young man. He goes on to tell us that earliar in the day he had run out of his house wearing only a dressing gown and knocked on many doors trying to get help. He says to us that he keeps seeing hooded people but with no faces, and that voices all around are telling him that he will die and that he keeps getting attacked on both legs by these apparitions and that it hurts.

We ask all the obvious questions ref drug use/abuse, alcohol or mental illness in the past. It transpires that he has not had a drink of alcohol for nearly four days. He is not sleeping or eating. He looks shit scared. He looks awful. He is going cold turkey suffering from alcohol withdrawal.

We calm him down and let his relatives know that we are taking him to the A/E so that at least he is not on his own. All his family are away so we contacted his gran. He needs help.

I know we all hate alcohol related jobs but usually its when its in the acute phase ie. ratarsed and belligerent. This is different. This is a young man suffering from chronic alcoholism…in his early twenties.

He has dreams and ambitions and wants to join the army. But first he must win the biggest battle against his adiction. He appears to be a decent lad from a nice family and I feel for him as we take him into A/E and other people, including an ambulance crew, look down on him because its “drink related”.

We are going to see a lot more people in the near future with chronic alcoholism who are in the prime of their youth. All due to the binge drinking culture we have now in this country! I hope he gets the proper care and attention he needs and gets to realise his dreams and ambitions.

Size Matters….

December 7, 2006


Suits you sir!

 On my third night shift….9 jobs so far and two hours of the shift left!

My Hi-Vis jacket (which I need when attending RTCs, building sites, industrial units and when its dark!) is falling apart. This is due to the normal wear & tear experienced by ambulance crews up and down the country…climbing through wrecked cars, reaching through broken windows/doors to gain entry, numerous washes to get rid of blood/vomit/mud/spit/shit, patients grabbing hold of you etc.).

With each new batch of uniform I always order the same size as previous believing that clothing firms use the same measuring devices. Not so! If I order a new Hi-Vis jacket in a medium it will come back saying medium but will really be an extra large! I,ve always maintained that our uniforms should be measured properly rather than “off the shelf”.

The only time this ever happened was years ago when the service got rid of the blue/white shirts with black clip-on ties, dark blue trousers and NATO woolly pulleys in favour of the then new “squad suits”. The new “Greens”. A couple of tailors (or so we were led to believe) came to HQ and everyone, over two days, turned up to be properly measured.

Weeks later we all received a box with our new “Green” kit. And hardly anything fitted! After a hell of a lot of returned kit, sometimes three or four times, it was revealed that the “tailors” were actually “ex. funeral directors”. And they were only used to measuring people laid down!

We are yet again in the process of changing our uniform! They must get it right this time but by the state of the Hi-Vis measurements I,m not holding my breath! The consensus of opinion is that we will be going for the National Green colour with gold markings. Please dont let anyone in management choose “day-glo” orange or “sky blue”!