Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review: Lysa Walder - 999

Beginning of last month I was fortunate enough to get an observer shift with the London Ambulance Service. And fortune didn't stop there, it pointed me in the direction of the Rapid Response Vehicle of Lysa Walder.

Lysa is not only a paramedic with extended skills (ECP - Emergency Care Practitioner), no, she is also an author. Read on...

- ~ -

Structure & Style
The book is an amalgamation of short stories, each chapter its own little focus on a job that Lysa has gone through. This allows you to read a story here and there and bit by bit. Or,  you could just keep on reading and let the stories engulf you until the last page appears. I chose the second option.
I found the writing style to be informative not only in a way of "let me tell you a story", but also along the lines of "this is job, this is how I do it, give it a go!"

The book has some great little nuggets of life on its pages. The stories range from quirky to sad, from smelly to mad. 
The book is divided up into multiple themes, so you always pick it up and read something appropriate to your mood, be it hilarious, strange or just plain wrong.
What struck me was the lack of negativity. Us ambo folks can be a real good bunch of whingers: not enough money, not enough skills, the ambulances are too small, the patients are annoying, my right toe has an itchy twitch....none of that to be found here. Which is a refreshing change. 
There is not much clinical knowledge to be learnt from this book, but that is not what it had been written for.
Yes, the emotional side of the book is fairly prominent, but that is not a bad thing. It is a direct reflection of the job - having to be scooped up by an ambulance crew is never without it's own little private hell endured by the patient.

In one word: Positive.
In a couple more words: A slice of life out on the road, neatly presented, written well with a glowing positive attitude. One gripe though: it could be a little longer.
What I can say from a professional point of view, is that I would have loved to have this book 9 months ago before I actually hit the road.

All in all? I'd say: Buy it. Get a copy. You want to know what our work is like? Take a parrot peek from Lysas shoulder. Considering joining the profession? Come on an observer shift in your mind. Newbie at the job? Grab a piece of the experience pie that Lysa has on offer. Already in the job? Have a read what Life is Like in London. Already working for the LAS? Support good book from a great colleague (on amazon here. Aussie Buyers HERE)

'Nuff said.


I am putting together a folder for next years newbies who will hit the road in about four months. I am looking to include all the information I wished I had when I hit the road, but had to find and fight for myself. Here is a brief idea and overview for its contents:

General Medical/Treatment Tips
Maps of Hospitals
Capabilities of Hospitals (Trauma/Neurological centres)

I'm still currently in draft stage, and would appreciate any input from you guys out there. What did YOU want to know, but were too afraid to ask when you hit the road?

Cheers in advance :-)


...or Alternative Paediatric Analgesia.
Following up on my earlier post, a couple of days we were called to a Kiddie who had got his finger stuck in a door. Screaming his head of when we arrived, he calmed down a little once I got down to his level and introduced myself and told him we're going to make his finger better. Distraction part one, we're getting there.
My colleague then begins to bandage his finger, after taping it up she draws a big smileyface on the tape hlding it together. "Show me your teeth!" Kid give us a big gappy grin, my collegue draws little teeth on the smiley.
"Stick you tongue out at me!" Kid is laughing by now, pokes his tongue out at us. Smileyface gets a big tongue drawn.

We're ready to go to hospital. En route our patients finger is only "a little sore", but he is in good spirits. To keep it that way, I make him a toy elephant out of a rubber glove, and let him draw eyes, mouth and hair. Kid makes trumpety noises and plays "charging elephant on an african savannah" in the back of our van. But the fun doesn't stop there: Hairy the elephant (I encouraged Kiddo to give the elephant a name) and Kiddo get dressed up in swine flu masks and safety glasses, dad takes a picture for old times sake.

By the time we're at hospital Kiddo is happy, has a new toy and a story to tell at school next year. And I didn't have to give any chemical pain relief :-)

Saturday, December 19, 2009


Standing in a pub at my girlfriends Christmas Party, a waitress approaches our group and offers me some sausage, dripping with oil, wrapped in bacon, dripping in fat. I am torn between health and hunger, but the latter wins.

"Yum. May as well die a slow and painful death" I say.
 "Thank you." she replies.

I should have stuck a wooden pole through her heart.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pity the fooled!

A recent shift. We started off with a full drug bag, and managed to nearly deplete all our pain relief.
Did everybody really need the pain relief? Pain is something very personal - so if someone seems like they are in pain, they will get some pain relief.
Did everybody really deserve the pain relief? Not my call to make. I'm not experienced enough to say for sure if someone is faking their pain, and I would rather give out a little more than not enough.

I will be interested to see my take on this issue in a couple of years time with more experience under my belt.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Still a little hazy...

We pull up with the ambulance outside the hospital, ready for a transfer out. Still not quite there yet, it's my second shift back from holidays.

I stare blankly at my colleague in the passenger seat beside me. I then turn to the windscreen and give it a good, long, hard, blank stare. I am thinking. What do I do now? 

Ah, that's right, get the stretcher. What a jolly good idea!

The day could continue...