Friday, October 23, 2009

complicated communications

The dayshift had some challenges in it for me - all our patients were either demented, delirious or dead.

Included was one poor soul who burnt to death. Not a pretty sight, especially not for the bystanders who had seen the smoke and tried to help. There was nothing we could do for our patient, so after confirming this with our gear, we covered the patient with a blanket, and I took a look at the people standing around. With our initial patient having died in such a horrendous way, it was important to check on the members of the public to see how they were feeling.

I approached a lady who had an expression of fear and disbelief written all over her face. All I could do was offer her a seat in the ambulance, a chat and a glass of water. She seemed to pick herself up after a couple of minutes, and wanted to get on with her day. There was nothing more I could do, so I helped her out of the van and had another look around. Most people had left by now, but I had a chat to a few men standing around, who all declined any offers of help or seating. All that I could do now was paperwork and liaise with the other emergency services.

This job was up there in the top three of horrible jobs I've done so far. I would be lying if I wrote that it didn't affect me at all - it did. On the train going home that night I had to think about the job, not so much about the patient funnily enough, but the circumstances of it all. It was a sunny day, one of those days where you soak up the great weather and feel good all around, not expecting anything bad to happen at all. Then all of a sudden someone catches fire, and unsuspecting member of the public are drawn in to witness such a horrendous event, which may scar them for life. We as emergency responders expect to see these scene from time to time, even if we aren't immune to such sights. And the patients family?

It was more of a reflection of the job rather than feeling sad. I did not know the person. I did not see him die. We arrived and the the aftermath, no more, no less. Still, I doubt I'll ever forget that certain job.

Luckily I was working with a very understanding paramedic, and one with twenty years of experience. That job was also the first time that I had a good chat to my colleague about the situation. Just to talk about everything.