Monday, July 11, 2005

Random Acts of Reality [London]


by Reynolds at 12:59PM (BST) on July 4, 2005 | #

This post is completely egotistical – but sod it, I can blow my own trumpet sometimes…

I think I’ve just saved someone's life, but only because I’m honest.
It’s 6:20 am, and I had ten minutes to go until the end of the shift. I’d just finished a maternataxi at the other end of my patch, so I considered sitting there for the ten minutes of my shift before ‘greening up’. That way I wouldn’t get another job, I could get back to station near enough in time, and by extension be safe and warm in bed before 7am.

“Sod it”, I thought, “what are the chances of me getting a job in these ten minutes”. So I ‘greened up’, and started heading back to station.

6:28am. My computer display starts buzzing, “58 year old Male, swollen tongue”.


It’s at the other end of my area, on go the lights, on goes the siren, and I key the mike to ask Control if there is anyone nearer, or anyone who finishes at 7am who could take the job. There isn’t.

The problem with getting a job at 6:30 is that pretty much every other ambulance and RRU in the area finishes their shift at 7am. So if they have all been on jobs, they’ll sit out the last 20 minutes of the shift at hospital. Or they could all be genuinely busy.

If Control are holding a job, then they’ll broadcast it over the radio, and hope that someone will take it, which to be honest, someone normally does.

So I race around there, getting there is Nine Minutes. Damn, the job is a failure…I need to get to every job in under 8 minutes.
The patient has a swollen tongue alright, so much so it’s nearly falling out of his head. Apparently it started swelling up from last night, and has just been getting worse.

It looks to me that he is suffering an allergic reaction, quite a serious one as well, although he has no idea what he might be allergic to.

Ok, I think, if it’s taken that long, he has plenty of breathing time, we can wait for the ambulance, and the hospital can treat him with the nice drugs. The only drug I have in this situation is adrenaline, which can have some fairly nasty side effects (nothing serious, just it’s not a pleasant drug to have injected into you).

So we wait, have a bit of a chat, and I manage to calm him down.
“It’s still getting bigger”, he says. So I have a look, and it is indeed getting to a dangerously large size. If it swells much more his airway will obstruct, and he won’t be able to breathe.

“Alright then”, I say, “Time for that injection I told you about”.
500mcg of Adrenaline, straight in the muscle.

4 minutes later, and he tells me that “It’s getting smaller”.

10 minutes later and it is noticeably smaller, and he is able to talk in a much more normal voice.

His mum, 86 years old, and dressed in a little checked work pinny comes down and offers a cup of tea.

50 minutes after arriving on scene and after having a good chat about the state of English rugby, the weather and the good the NHS does, an ambulance rolls up outside.

The ambulance has also ‘greened up’ with 10 minutes to go on the end of their shift. Bless them.

I get back to station and finish my paperwork – it’s now 8am, one and a half hours overtime then. Back in 10 hours to do the same again.

Then I start thinking… If I hadn’t been honest (read: scared about getting caught and getting the sack), then I wouldn’t have gotten the job, the patient’s tongue would have swollen, and he could have choked to death.

All those little random decisions came together to help this patient.
And I managed to go home with a warm glow inside, rather than the sickness of fatigue, and the dejection of yet another drunk/assault/drunken assault.

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