Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Festive Tears

Today I was working as part of a double crew with a female Paramedic, well our day started out well, we had just finished out our tea and coffee and the phone went … it was the Dispatcher asking for us to go out and stand-by at a tactical deployment point (TDP). Now TDPs are designed to allow us to reach areas within a specific time scale, which, because of the distance from the station we would not normally be able to achieve if an emergency call were to come in.

So we arrive at the TDP and settle down, turning on the TV in the room and watching some daytime TV. The mobile rings and we are allocated onto an emergency call for a patient with chest pains, off we go, lights and sirens going. We arrive and handle the patient, carrying out a 12-lead ECG and making the patient more comfortable before heading into Accident and Emergency.

After clearing we are sent back to station, where we re-stock the equipment and drugs used and settle down to chat to some colleagues, the emergency phone rings again and we are off, this time for an elderly female who has fallen in the house. Upon our arrival we find the house secured and hunt to see if we can gain access to the property but to no avail. Just as we are about to request the Police arrive to assist in gaining entry a neighbour tells us that the patient has a key safe, which contains a spare front door key, we find the safe, get the code number from the patient (after shouting through the letter box again) and make our entry into the house. We are met by an elderly female, who is stuck on the floor with no obvious injuries, we check her for any pain / injury etc but after giving her a quick head to toe we assist her into a chair. We settle the lady down and make sure that she is happy to stay at home until her home help arrives and after getting the necessary paperwork completed we bid goodbye to the woman and return to our vehicle. We advise the EMDC that we are clear and they tell us to return for our lunch break (11am).

After our break we are allocated onto another emergency call and whilst en route the Dispatcher advises that this call is possibly for a child in cardiac arrest, we arrive within 3 minutes of the call being allocated to us and hear screams coming from the house that tells us this is not just a child who is fitting or has been holding their breath.

We are met by a distraught neighbour who tells us that her mum is a nurse in a Glasgow A&E department and that she is in the house with the mother and child, we walk in with all our equipment to be met by a hysterical female who is begging us to help her child, the child who is lying on the sofa, still and doll like, the neighbour’s mother is looking at us willing us to do something and we do, we take over from her, check the child and discover that this 2 year old boy is lifeless, not breathing and has unfortunately been dead for some time.

This is the worst part of the job, telling a relative that there is nothing we can do for their loved one. It is especially hard when it is a child who has died, now this is only my second death of a child and the last one was still viable; unfortunately this was not the case in this call.

Our focus of patient care moved from the child to the mother, the mother who is screaming and sobbing and begging for us to help, we comfort her and tell her that we unfortunately cannot help her child. My colleague is consoling the mother and I make my way to the vehicle to set in motion all the necessary support mechanisms (Police attendance, Family Doctor etc). The Police arrive soon after us and start with their procedures, by this stage the Gran and Great Gran-mother arrive and I meet them in the hallway of the house and break the news that they are not wanting to hear, they go and comfort their daughter / grand daughter.

My colleague and I console and comfort the three women, whilst maintaining a professional image, even although we both want to walk away and cry.

Some time passes and because of the nature of the call, we agree with the Police to transport the mother and deceased child to hospital (this is not normal but because the mother was not wanting to be separated from her child we gained authorisation from the Duty Manager in the EMDC). Upon our arrival a Doctor and Nurse met us at the doors to the Accident and Emergency unit and take the mother, deceased child and gran as a group to a relative room to allow them some time to come to terms with what is happening. We hand over the care of this group to the staff and went to our vehicle to sit and review what had just occurred over the last 90 minutes. We were comforted by two of our colleagues, who spoke to us in the vehicle and when we were returned to the station we were booked out of the system for a stress break. This is when it really hit us, my colleague and I went our separate ways and broke down, the release of emotion was overwhelming it turned us both into walking crying wrecks, we were consoled by our colleagues and station manager and given time to reflect and discuss the call.

I am sitting here, some 9hrs on still numb but I know that I will, over the next few days, cry whilst thinking about the call… I cannot imagine how the family are feeling just now and I don’t know that I would want to feel the emotions that they are experiencing.

All I can hope is that they know that we did everything we could for them. Unfortunately I know it was not enough.

God bless.



Well as you will know if you have read my blog, I am not a big fan of exams and I have recently completed my finals for my Technician qualification. So I can now put the prospect of exams to the back of my mind.... NO instead I decide to put myself through the stress of the Paramedic Pre Entry exams. Now these are two papers, one multiple choice (MCQ) and the other consisted of 5 short written answers, now these sound simple but they are in fact 5 questions with 2 or 3 sub questions in each and you have to answer all the questions within 2 hours.

I finish the MCQ with 30 minutes to spare and decide that I should not read over my answers but just submit and leave, then after 90 minutes in the short written I am once again finished and decide that I have done as much as I can. I wait for my colleagues who were also sitting the exams and chat then head away home thinking "Oh well if I fail I can sit it again in the future".

Now I get on station today for a day shift 7-7 and find a letter in my pigeon-hole telling me that I have in fact actually passed and that the next stage of the process will be in January and will involve me participating in practical assessments... so wish me well and keep your fingers crossed in January!

Monday, December 19, 2005

Festive Time

Well I have been given my shifts for the next two weeks and I am working night shift over Christmas and New Year, I do not mind working Christmas as I have no children and Kal is going North to his folks over the festive period so I will get time to spend Christmas with my folks (briefly between my nights) and then I am driving up to meet him at his parents. We are both then working New Year, Kal is volunteering with the British Red Cross at the Edinburgh Hogmanay street party whilst I am working 7-7 nights at my station so it will make for a logistic challenge to meet up.... (hint hint Kal).

I am looking forward to the shifts, yes I know this sounds strange, but the staff that are on will be fun to work with and as you can imagine it will be busy, but when you have a good bunch of people to work with it makes it slightly easier.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

I've read your blog!

That was what I heard when I answered the phone the other evening at the station. I was working nights and the phone rang, my colleague answered it and said it was for me.

I took the phone and I was told by one of the EMDC Dispatchers "I have been reading your blog for the last 3 days, thanks for making it so interesting" Well I didn't know what to say, but thanks to the EMDC Dispatcher for being honest, I hope that you enjoy it and will continue to enjoy it, but you shouldn't sit still for that long, you might get a DVT!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Nollaig chridheil huibh

Well it it getting close to that time of year, therefore I thought I would wish each and everyone "Nollaig chridheil huibh", "Nadolig Llawen", "een plesierige kerfees" or in plan simple terms......

Merry Christmas

I hope that you have a good one and a peaceful New Year.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Weekend Overtime

Well I was meant to be off over the weekend, but with nothing much planned and Kal being busy I decided to accept the offer of some extra shifts working with the SORT (Special Operations Response) Team. I roll into their base at 1855hrs on Friday night all flustered and flapping as I had been out Christmas shopping and then went to the cinema to see the new Harry Potter (Very very good). I am met by my colleague who looked slightly less stressed, but had spent nearly 90 minutes trying to get into work as well so we were both in a good mood...not, anyway I was made a coffee by one of the "Decontamination Operatives" and chilled out whilst checking the "Dog Van" (That's the name given to their small rapid response van which looks just like the police dog vehicles) equipment and booking on with the Dispatcher. We were chilling out watching some TV after checking the kit with PS who was my "Driver and Runner" for the evening (well until midnight when he then went on call) and discussing how I like to operate at calls etc when the phone rang and we were off, speeding our way down one of the main streets to a patient with chest pain. We arrived about 5 minutes after the call and a double-crewed Ambulance arrived at the same time, so we checked with them if they were happy to attend themselves and cleared.

Back at the station we settled down again to the TV and 15 minutes after our second coffee we were asked by my other colleague to deliver some new information to the EMDC and Divisional HQ for specific managers, so off we went again. We delivered the information and letters and collected some other equipment from the station around the corner and headed back to our base for our meal break (take away Chinese buffet! yum yum), having just finished the phone went again for a patient who was having a diabetic hypo in the street, when we arrived the patient was fitting and had an un-recordable blood sugar level, PS and myself started treating him and he was given a Glucagon injection to raise his blood sugars, although the first one did not raise the level enough so a second one was given. The patient started to respond to this one just as the crew arrived to back us up and he was handed over to their care.

Back at base again and 35 minutes before PS was due to finish the phone went again, this time for a 17 yr old who had "? drink spiked" off we went, lights flashing, arriving 6 minutes later we are met by a frantic mother, calm / stern looking father and a very sheepish 17 yr old sitting on the toilet seat after decorating the bathroom with vomit! The crew arrived 2 minutes after us and they took over the care of the patient and once again we were clear and started heading back to drop off PS for his finish time.

I was now a single crewed RRU and on a Friday night I expected to be busy.... and I was not wrong, getting sent and stood down to numerous calls, picking up drunks, holding hands of elderly and at one stage being driven by a very helpful police constable to the A&E department with a patient in the back seats of the "Dog van" because of the lack of ambulances and number of outstanding calls. After about my 4th call I was up at the EMDC having a well needed coffee and chat with some old EMDC colleagues, sitting in the EMDC made me realise that I did not miss that aspect of my career, but the people who work hard in the department.

Several calls later I eventually get the RTB (Return to Base) message from my Dispatcher that night and head back, fuelling the vehicle en route. At 7am I walk out the door and think to myself "MMMMM bed".... then I remember that I am still on call for the team until Sunday night at 7pm when I commence my next SORT shift.

Sunday night and I go in early to get fitted for some new equipment which is being issued to all operational staff, I have my coffee after the test (you are exposed to the same tastes as that of the stuff you put on your nails to stop biting them!) and head out, via the shop to the EMDC as it was my turn to take the biscuits up when I was dropping of mail. I meet my Dispatcher, who is relatively new to me, we chat and I explain that I hate sitting doing nothing, so I would be happy to attend anything that she needs help with, prior to me arriving in the EMDC she had sent me to a patient who had been assaulted and turned out to be a minor injury, therefore allowing the EMDC to down-grade the response of the ambulance to a "COLD" (not using lights and sirens) emergency call.

After coffee again, I am off to a 4 month with a non - blanching rash who is floppy, a male who does not know where he is except in the middle of Holyrood Park (A very large area, taking me 20 minutes driving around to discover nothing), I get back to the EMDC and he calls again, this time with better information and I eventually find him, once again no ambulances available so off we go with the "Dog van" to the A&E. I also get the chance that night to respond to a patient fitting in an area covered by Community First Responders, who I had previously been involved with their training, it was good to see the scheme in action and working so well. I was returned to the EMDC to give cover to that side of the town, as the resources for that side of the city were all dedicated, so I was it, at 0545hrs I head back to base, once again re-fuelling en route and topping up my caffeine levels once back at base.

7am Monday morning and our relief crew walk in, we chat and this time I think..."BED all mine and NO PAGER!!!"

Thursday, December 01, 2005

29B05 Traffic / Transportation Accident - Unknown Status

Well it was a fairly usual mid-week night shift; we had just cleared from a call and were heading back to station via the BP to fuel up. As we turned onto the final straight back to the station the radio sprang into action with its "do do doop" noise and there it was "Outside Jet Garage, Main Street... MY VILLAGE!!" My colleague asked what it was and I told him, so lights on and off we went. Further "Do do doops" tell us that the call that we are attending is a two car accident with the Police en route and then the radio starts ringing (indicating that the EMDC Dispatcher wants to speak with us... He tells us that they are being told that the car has rolled and that there are reports of persons trapped and requested an update ASAP... I advised that we would be on scene within the next 30 seconds and would update as soon as.

With this we swing around the corner and see a warning triangle in the middle of the road and beyond in the glow of the garage lights a car on its roof with other cars scattered around and people milling about. As we slow through the cones that were places to protect the scene (Thanks to the Jet garage for their supply!) We are flagged by a bystander who updates that everyone is out and have been taken into the garage. I jump out and my colleague goes to check the car for damage etc.

As I enter the garage I am met by what can only be described as a blood bath... which is coming from one of the 4 occupants of the car, there is blood pouring from his left arm and his hysterical girlfriend is waving her bleeding hand around. I update the EMDC Dispatcher and request a second vehicle. I got the two most seriously bleeding patients into the ambulance so I could check them out properly.

The lad had multiple lacerations to his left arm, which turned out to be the side that had came into contact with the road for the period of time the car had slid along. There was lots of glass fragments in his arm and hair, this was cleaned to the best of our ability. My colleague treated his girlfriend and she was complaining of neck pains, because of this we treated her as a possible spinal injury and she was placed on a rigid spinal board and a collar applied with head support blocks.

By this time the second ambulance had arrived and they began dealing with the other two patients (who had minor injuries) and one of the crew popped his head into our vehicle to see if we needed further help, his offer was declined and we started to get ready to leave.

Because of the nature of the incident, we could not take any of the patients to the local A&E and had to travel to the larger A&E centre in Edinburgh. We arrived there 22 minutes later and both patients were taken into the Immediate Care section of the department and handed over to the nursing staff. We then had the task of cleaning the vehicle, which to anyone passing would resemble a butchers shop with the amount of blood on the floor, walls and seats. 30 minutes later and a nice clean ambulance we were ready for another call... We got one; it was a voice call from the EMDC Dispatcher offering us our meal break.