Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stop, Swap'n'Roll

I believe that was what I was told in first aid if I ever find myself to be in the unfortunate situation of being on fire.

A colleague approached a while back, asking if I could do a shift for her, as she had to go to a friends wedding. I agreed, as I needed someone to cover a shift for me for a concert that would have normally fallen on one of my rostered days on. I was also coaxed in to the swap with a "it's a cosy little depot, we usually do two jobs a day."

So there I am, just got the basics of my uniform on, and have just checked our drug bag (haven't got to check to ambulance yet) when a priority one comes in, ten minutes before shift start. We're the only ones around, so it's us. My partner looks at me with that look in her eye: "it's all your fault, normally this never happens". Person fallen from roof, approx 3m height. So off we scoot, take all our gear and save our patient who was cleaning the gutters, but whos roof didn't feel like putting up with the strain. A good job, invovling a lot of monitoring, scene organizing and sweeping broken bits of roof.

We clear from BiggerHospitalFurtherAway, and get sent to a minor job in that area.Nothing of interest, patient is taken to BiggerHospitalFurtherAway. We try and make our way back again. Another little job comes up around the corner, but in our local area; patient taken to LocalHospital. Just as we clear we are assigned to another priority one: patient collapsed on toilet.

"Ah, syncopial episode" my partner waves it off as. "Was on the loo, pushed a bit to hard, increased blood pressure went to his head and made him faint". I'm a little sceptical. Partner is sure it will be a nothing call, and promises me a little jig if the call proves her wrong. I take all my gear with me just in case. And indeed, patient is lying on the floor near the toilet. Patient is also being obstreperous, and will not sit up straight, even less push with his legs in order to get us out of this tight spot we're caught in (people tend to fall in awkward places...). I'm about to get annoyed with said patient, and tell him off why he isn't cooperating, when I remember to ask a little question: "Can you wriggle your toes for me sir?" Patient wriggles toes on one foot only. "Can you wiggle your fingers for me please, sir?" Patient wiggles fingers only on one hand. Adds up with patient unable to sit up straight...patient has more than likely had a stroke. Luckily, there are friends and family around to help with extrication, and we end up 'one-ing' our patient in to hospital (lights and a little siren use). Another god job. And a little jig performed just for me, unfortunately cameras not allowed...

Time for some food, and whilst standing in the queue at the local american restaurant, a teenage girl turns around, spots me a exclaims loudly and excitedly to her friends: "Look, it's an ambulance dude!". Yes, dear, it is an ambulance dude. Hungry ambulance dude actually.

We nibble our food in the ambulance, and don't make it back to the station. Someone with breathing difficulties has called us. Patient is a regular, his emphysema plays up on him every now and again. My partner has seen him a couple of times, an easy call. Well, I've already earned my title 'shit magnet' today, so I don't take anything easy, and grab all the gear just in case. But patient is not in too bad of a shape, and walks to ambulance.

We finally get back to the depot for 10 minutes, then get called out again for a transfer from hospital back to a nursing home. Done, easy, and of course another job pops up on our screen: "person feeling dizzy", a non urgent call. It's been a long day, and we only have another hour left to go before our shift finishes; fatigue is slowly replacing enthusiasm.

Sounds simple enough, and we are around the corner. In we go - greeted with histeria, screaming and tears. All coming from the wife, who probably has apocalyptic feelings rushing through her head right this very moment: Her husband is in the middle of having a tonic seizure. Rigid as a plank of wood, every visible muscle in his body tense, spitting phlegm, breathing like a raging bull.

And there I stand, lonely me, clinging on to my little drug bag like it was my rucksack on my first day of school.

My Colleague though, cool as a cucumber, hovers over to the wife and hands her a pen and a piece of paper: "It's really important that you fill out your husbands details so we can help him. Thanks!".

My freeze moment only lasted two seconds, I am getting some drugs ready in case they are needed, plus I am regretting not taking any other equipment in for this job. Luckily, cool cucumber colleague has done her paperwork bit and is getting all the stuff I ask her for.

The rest of the job is easy: Pt stops seizing, patients wife calms down, take patient to hospital, patient still can't remember what happened, but is grateful we are there to help him.

Phew. What a day.