The Waiting Room…..

February 20, 2007

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I step into the gloom of the darkened hallway. My eyes struggle to focus on the shadowy shapes and outlines before me after coming in from the bright sunshine outside. Its been a warm day for a change, one of those days when you just want to chill and relax in a park with your loved ones and forget all of life’s woes.

Before my eyes have chance to adjust to the ambient light filtering through the chink in the curtains, my nose picks up the distinctive smell that permeates everything in this place. Its an all too familiar smell for me, the first time was almost twenty years ago, and it does,nt change. I carefully tread ever more slowly to find the source.

Through the kitchen I can see the outline of another door, and I notice the smell is getting stronger. Through the gloom I notice that everything seems tidy, in order with things where you would expect them to be. I pause at the door…knowing that on the other side I will find the reason for my being there, the reason for the smell, the reason neighbours have called for help after noticing a strange aroma emanating from next-door.

The door moves slowly open with the hinges protesting loudly against the silence all around. I step inside the room and again I struggle to make out anything solid within the darkness. All I can see are black, dark grey sillouettes beneath a beam of sunlight sneaking through the top of the curtains lighting up a million dust particles disturbed by my opening the door. Outlines begin to take on a familiar shape…a chair, the fireplace, a bookcase in the far corner and to my left…a settee.

It takes a few seconds for the image to make sense in the gloom….sat on the settee, upright, head held high, hands on his lap looking straight ahead. And very still. Very dead. I have found the source, his skin is mottled black and dark blue, his features swollen with the build up of gas from within his decaying body. He is at peace. He looks as if he will wake up if the curtains are suddenly thrown open or the light switched on. But I know he wont.

I call up on the radio for control to stand the crew down and to inform the police that we have a sudden death. Soon after, I hear the footsteps in the hallway and the crackle of a radio as a police officer joins me. Quickly I explain what I have found whilst waiting. Nothing suspicious so far, mail, letters, newspapers are piled up behind the front door…going back two weeks! No medications lying around to indicate any previous medical history. But why should there be…he is only 24.

The police officer reels back at the sight of his body and the smell which sticks to your clothes and nestles inside your nostrils. She goes outside and is sick in the garden. It is her first sudden death in these circumstances. It is not my first, and not my last unfortunately. Soon more police officers arrive and one by one I show them through to the young man and one by one they leave to find fresh air outside. I find myself having a one way conversation with the occupant. Apologising for the intrusion and asking about relatives, friends? Someone must have missed him?

He was last seen more than two weeks previously which would tie in with the post piled up behind his front door. A friend was located via a telephone number scribbled on a post it note stuck to the fridge door. He confirms that no-one has seen the young man for sometime, that he was fit and well and to his knowledge did not use drugs recreational or otherwise. He knows where the family live and will contact them. More footsteps in the hallway and a police inspector comes into the room as it needs to be certain that foul play can be ruled out.

Sometime, about two weeks ago, this young man had come home from work and sat down on his settee. He then died. And since then he had been waiting, on his own, in the dark with only the occasional phone ringing or the door bell disturbing the silence now and then. Sat there waiting…and waiting………and waiting………….for someone……me…..to find him. I step outside into the bright sunlight and breath clean air which seems better than it did an hour ago. I make a mental note to go to the park tomorrow.


Here, There & Everywhere…

February 18, 2007

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The new improved Foxtrot-Oscar RRV/RFU…

Since finishing my last set of nights I have been on the Foxtrot-Oscar Response car (Paramedic/Police combined response unit), which was fun filled, and also on the normal RRV/RFU (rapid response vehicles).

Nights were busy as usual…attended a serious armed robbery on a security van which I cant really give details about. The guard was okay (minor head injury) and the robbers got away with a large amount of cash! Seems to be an increase in this sort of thing in my area, a bank was ram raided shortly after with a large truck!

The last job of my last night shift was to a 93 year old lady with a severe chest infection at a nursing home. This was one of the better nursing homes I,ve been to and the staff seem to genuinely care for their residents. Anyway the lady was sat in her own wheelchair with an audible wheezing and ruttling coming from her chest. (no need for the stethoscope). She was slightly confused and apprehensive, very pale and also very hot due to the infection. We calmed her down with distraction chat to take her mind off the impending visit to A/E and gave her some O2 and then nebulised her with salbutamol to good effect.

She was concerned about leaving her dog behind, which is strange for a nursing home to allow pets to be kept. The staff said that they would look after “Ponderosa” until she returned.With this she seemed to calm down and we wheeled her out to the truck. We then got the wheelchair on the back and then lifted her “top & tail” onto the stretcher. It was when I moved her comfort blanket to place the monitor leads on her that I jumped back….there nestled in her lap was a small brown dog, curled up in a ball sleeping peacefully away.

A quick double take and a request for my crew mate to have a look to confirm my findings. Only on closer inspection did we both realise that the small brown dog was in fact one of those battery operated breathing things that look like the real deal! So “Ponderosa” travelled with us as the dog seemed to calm the lady more than we could. It was fun and games trying to explain to the nurses at A/E what “Ponderosa”was, especially after a sister tried to bollock me for bringing a dog into Casualty!

Incidents on the Foxtrot-Oscar response car were the normal assaults and drunken behaviour expected on a night out in any big city in the UK. Although we did attend a heroin overdose where we had to remain quiet so as “not to wake the kids up!”  Also attended the most bizarre drugs job that I have ever been to involving a teenager, 5 Es, numerous aerosol canisters and a shit load of booze. This young girl was tripping out of her mind and unfortunately because of her behaviour and previous drugs related forays into the dark world I can really see her ending up dead somewhere…I hope not but of all the addicts I,ve been to she seemed like she was on  self destruct !


Zombie Cars….

February 10, 2007

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Foxtrot-Oscar Zombie (Z) Car

Another shift awaits me tonight on the Foxtrot-Oscar response car. A combined Paramedic/Police unit dealing with mainly drink related accidents and public order offences in Big City on a weekend.

I think that most people I have seen and treated (with the odd exception) have been totalled out of their heads, ratarsed to such an extent that some appear more like zombies!

I always like my little adventures into the dark and mysterious world of the other universe where logic is reversed and incidents are always avoidable yet people still walk/stagger/stumble/trip/argue/fight their way into them!

Lets see what the shift brings tonight……


Snow, Snow, Quick, Quick, Snow…!

February 9, 2007

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Ambulance Driving in Snow…

(imagine a British ambulance…but driving on the correct side of the road)

Another set of nights nearly over and done with!!!

Pretty busy with a real mixed bag of jobs from medical calls for breathing diffs, sick, overdoses, self harmers, cardiac arrests, RTCs, assaults, only two drunks (!), abdo, bleeding PV and bleeding PR, one armed robbery (involving a substantial amount of money) and a dog!

 

Used most of my skills and gave plenty of drugs. Averaged 8 jobs per shift. Will post later on some of the more unusal jobs like the dog!

Off to sleep soon…I hope!

(For some reason I cant get my posts to align left!)

 


Theory of Relativity…

February 7, 2007

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Me before my haircut…

It is a well known fact that the kettle is linked to the station alarm.

I have worked out the formula “Tea = mc2″ which is every time you try and have a cuppa it equates to “many casualties!”

In the universe there is “dark matter” which cannot be replicated in the laboratory and there is also “dark energy” which is pulling the universe apart!

The station alerter is controlled by “dark energy” as it is powered by the  collective sub-conscious when tea is thought of/mentioned/made.

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Tea…best drink of the day/night….when you can get it!


Brass Monkeys With Welding Sticks…!!!

February 6, 2007

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Its a bit nippy tonight…!!!

Guess what…? Yep! I,m on nights again! Another four nights of adventures into the dark wonder world of tiredness! Marvellous!

Please forgive me for my next profanity…”Its bastard freezing!”

So far I,ve been kept waiting outside peoples houses in the small hours like some amateur burglar freezing the old nadgers off whilst waiting for the door to open!

Also the heater on the vehicle only kicks in on arrival at the A/E!

And I made the big mistake of getting my hair cut before going on shift…a number 1 shave! I thought it would make me look more efficient and streamlined but all it has done is freeze my brain cells further and highlighted my bushy eyebrows more!

Will post more later tonight on shift 2 if I thaw out!


Food For Thought….!

February 3, 2007

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Ambulance disguised as Batternberg cake…

A Paramedic crew have recently been sacked in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service area after refusing to attend a 999 call. The reason…? They had not had a break for 6 hours! Details are still a bit sketchy as they have gone to appeal.

A report by the BBC details the main facts surrounding the incident.

It is a Cardinal sin to refuse a 999 call in the ambulance service. We,ve all done it at some time, that is thought about refusing a 3 niner, and we,ve gobbed off to control but we did the job then complained about it. I,m not supporting the dismissal, far from it, and I can understand someone snapping. Also…there is no mention of what the call was, so therefore you could assume it was a numpty job! Both crew members have a fair whack of service between them and I think personally that getting the sack was harsh.

These are my few thoughts on the issue and I have brought in other factors which will hopefully paint a more clearer picture of life on the road. (or maybe not as the case may be).

The Ambulance Service is a demand driven service, so we eat when we can. Sometimes this is not possible even when you are back at station you may be restocking kit/vehicle after a traumatic job or a cardiac arrest. (nothing worse than being caught out at a job with missing kit). So we restock the ambulance first and then refuel ourselves….or try! 

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Fish & Chips…mmmm! nice!

Look around you next time you are in a restaurant….do you see that man/woman over there with flames coming off the knife & fork as they eat quickly? Chances are he/she will be in the Ambulance Service. Even when you are on a break back at station you still need to stuff the food down your neck in case you get called out before the half hour is up! If I could add up the cost of food that I,ve wasted from leaving/throwing away due to being called out for a job then I,m sure it would be a princely sum! 

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Dog Burger…lovely!

Getting a break is one thing…having the time to eat properly and chew your food is another. Ambulance crews are noted for having digestion problems and ulcers from poor eating habits. And the food is not healthy either…fish & chips or burgers with coffee or cola as you can at least eat them “in the saddle” if you do get another job before finishing your meal break. I am, by definition, a professional forager. A good Ambulanceman/woman/person/stretcher monkey will always find a cup of tea and a biscuit within a 1.5 mile radius of their vehicle. But we should not have to forage or rely on getting drinks from wards etc.  

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If you are unfortunate enough to require an Ambulance due to illness/accident, check out the crews uniform. Are there any tell tale signs of crumbs or dried food on their tops/jackets? Is there a dried egg smear across the lower face? Can you hear loud burping noises every now and then when your back is turned? Its not bad manners…its the result of having to wolf down their food. Again….As per usual….Normal state of affairs….Its the way! 

Throw into this meal break madness 12 hour shifts and now you are on your way to a very unhealthy lifestyle indeed. (I know some crews prefer 12 hour shifts and if it works for them then fair play.) For me it doesnt work. I work 0700 to 1900hrs day shifts and 1900 to 0700hrs nights shifts. Therefore my breakfast is either very, very early or not at all. And then lunch will be taken at any time other than the normally accepted hours of lunchtime (if at all!). Teatime is none existent as I am out on the road and I dont want to eat when I get back around 1930hrs (thats if we dont get a late job!).

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Proper Sleep…I wish…

10 hour shifts suit me as you can organise some of the days meals at home better. 0700-1700hrs/1200-2200hrs/2100-0700hrs. So the shifts are not good when you are hungry. And when you are hungry you get more tired. But the shifts dont allow you enough time to relax and wind down and eat healthily. Therefore fitness levels drop and sickness soars! 

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Healthy Food…I wish…

All we want is the opportunity to be able to sit down and eat a healthy meal in good order so that the fuel we take inside ourselves will help us better with the demands of the job/shifts/punters etc.  

Eat/Sleep/Exercise

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Mrs. Magic & myself on hols…

I wish…


Hairs on the Back of My Neck……!

February 2, 2007

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We have all had those strange moments when the hairs on the back of the neck stand up and a chill runs down the back. Its due mainly to the realisation momentarily, that “…there but for the grace of God go I…” or the hearing of strange tales that make you wonder “…how would I react to that?….”

On ecparamedics blog Social Dispatch his post on “Ghosts” reminded me of a patient that I went to last year. The gentleman in question was a tetra-plegic, paralysed in all four limbs from the neck down. He was, and still is, lovingly cared for by his wife of many years. We were asked to admit him to a local hospital for treatment for a chest infection.

The reason for the paralysis was due to a serious RTC during the 1960s involving two HGVs. He was the driver of one of the lorries. Against all the odds he had survived horrendous injuries which unfortunately cut short his future career in the Police. He had just enlisted and was awaiting joining instructions.

It was whilst talking to his wife about the gentlemans condition in general that she related to me a very strange and totally bizzare event that had occurred recently. They had taken a holiday abroad and had boarded the plane ready for take off. He was sat towards the rear of the aircraft to accommodate his disability and was chatting to a fellow passenger.

Unbelievably…..this fellow passenger sat next to him was the driver of the other lorry that had crashed into him over 40 years ago! And he still carried a small picture of the crash scene in his wallet as his life had hung in the balance too!

What would I have done or said in a situation like that?

I hope I never have to find out!

 


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