Monday, May 15, 2006

Corpse In The Bushes - Part 2

For part one, click here

I was sitting in the car on standby trying to decide what to have for breakfast when the MDT (computer in the car) rang with a job.

The location was given as “West Common Road, near the church”.  I knew where it was without checking the map.   It was literally just down the road.   I read further, “Male lying on the floor in the bushes, possibly deceased.”

These calls usually turn out to be one of two things.  Either it’s someone who’s been out drinking, got completely trolleyed and decided to sleep it off in the bushes, or it really is a dead body.

I set off and, as is common, the MDT rang with an update.  A quick glance showed me that there wasn’t a lot of extra text on the screen which might indicate safety concerns, but the word “deceased” had changed to “dead”.

I’ve got to know Mark Myers quite well, and was joking with him only the other week about how he keeps putting “dead” on the screen instead of the more usual “suspended”, “purple” (LAS slang for dead) or “deceased”, so I knew it must have been him that was taking the call and had noticed that it was me that was running on it.  It was his way of saying “Hello Steve!”

I arrived at the location given and was met by the police. “We’ve had a look up and down the road, but we can’t see anyone lying in the bushes.  We’re going to get the informant to come and show us where this body is.”  They shot off, and squealed round the corner into a side-road.  

I updated control, and they told me that an ambulance, callsign Z302 was on the way.  I knew the crew had just got back to station and there was a crew already there, so the other crew should have come out first.  Then I remembered that there was a new trainee technician on Z302 on her “training supervisor” period – this is when trainees first come out after completing their course, and start working as a third person so that they can be guided through their first few calls.  They must have said they’d do it because it was possibly a dead body – and it’s nice to get the first one over and done with when your still with a friendly supervisor!

The crew arrived while I was waiting for the police to return. I asked them if they’d been given the update, but they hadn’t.  I filled them in, and then the police returned.  “It’s in the bushes opposite Friend Street.” The crew piled back into the ambulance and I got in my car, and the convoy shot off down the street with blue lights  flashing and sirens blaring (great at 8.30 on a Sunday morning eh?  Still, I’ve had to get out of bed early…..)

We trampled through the bushes, and eventually spotted what looked like a leg.  As we made our way over, I saw a hand move.  

The patient was lying under what used to be a large tree branch.  We lifted the branch out of the way, and Liz, the trainee, started to assess the patient.  The smell of alcohol was almost palpable.
“Hello, we’re from the London Ambulance Service, can you hear me?”  This was a fair enough start – always start politely.  He was having none of it.  He’d decided to be “unconscious”.

Liz tried again, this time also pinching his ear to assess for painful stimulus, but it’s surprising how many people can stand the ear pinch.  She was beginning to get a little flustered, so I decided to help.  

As a new trainee – and we’ve all been there – you’re never really quite sure how far to go with pain stimulus, but once you’ve been to a few drunks and been verbally abused, spat at, had vomit spat at you, had to duck a fist or two, you soon get any sympathy for them knocked out of you, so you’re happy to take it a bit further than the ear pinch.

I pressed hard onto his chest with my knuckles, rubbed them up and down the breast bone (this bloody hurts, but doesn’t harm the patient) and shouted “Come on matey, wakey wakey.”  
That did the trick.  He opened his eyes and swore at me.  We dragged him up into a sitting position and Liz tried again, but all he would say was, “I Polish”.

After making sure he wasn’t hurt, we got him to his feet and, after he’d initially refused to come with us and was threatened with being arrested by the police, walked him to the ambulance.

Considering he’d been laying in the bushes all night, he was surprisingly warm, and all his obs – pulse, blood pressure etc – were good.  The police asked him a few questions then left, and I left the crew to it and returned to my car.

I was doing the paperwork, and glanced up to see our patient walking surprisingly well down the street.  After the police had gone, he’d refused to go to hospital and walked off the ambulance.  We’ve got no powers of detention, so all we could do was let him go and hope we didn’t get a call back to him.

I finished the paperwork, and then sent a text message to Mark, asking if he was working today.  We thought it might be a good idea to let you see how a call works from beginning with the 999 call to the end when we finish with the patient.  We know it’s a bit of an anti-climax with the possibility of a corpse in the bushes ending up with a drunken man staggering off down the street, but it shows that sometimes calls just don’t turn out to be as they originally seem.          

Update:  We decided to try doing this when we realised we’d been involved with the same call – is this something you’d like us to try and do again in the future?  Did you think it worked well? Let us know what you think


Blogger Dave Goodman said...

Fascinating to see a call end to end like this!

1:04 pm  
Anonymous Sweet Pete said...

Another senseless waste of taxpayers' money.

2:18 pm  
Blogger PJ said...

Wow! Tag team blogging, cool.

7:59 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like it this way, I think it'd be cool if you two made another blog (of the multi-author sort, which I'm sure you can do with blogger) for this kind of thing maybe?

10:42 pm  
Anonymous John Robertson said...

It works well - would be good to see more.

1:18 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree, very cool. in the LAS do you not have to get the patient to sign a refusal like in the US?

4:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was definitely interesting to read. I think that it would be great to do another posting like this in the future, it nice to read about a call from start to finish like this.

4:07 am  
Blogger Spike said...

Excellent getting both ends.

7:11 am  
Blogger olivia said...

It really works - please do more, as it's fascinating to see both sides of the call.

9:53 am  
Blogger Steve said...

Anon - we do have a box for patients to sign when they refuse treatment or refuse to wear a seatbelt, but I'd be very surprised if this guy had signed. He was apparently rather unco-operative after the police and I had left.

10:26 am  
Blogger caramaena said...

Cool idea guys. I like seeing how things go from start to finish :)

10:37 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As I said to a friend earlier, when you guys hook up it's like when Casualty and Holby City do one of their bizarre joint disaster programmes :)

I think it's really interesting - if you guys have the chance again I'd like to read more of this sort of thing!

11:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shame the boys in blue didn't stick around to see it through really but sod him, if he was going to be like that.

Excellent idea having the post across blogs - worked very well I think!.


1:06 pm  
Blogger essjay said...

Oooo very much liking the cross blog story ..... it worked great !!

5:19 pm  
Anonymous Morticiah said...

Most excellent ..... as an ex-Undertaker, married to working Undertaker I'm ashamed to admit to being everso slightly disappointed it wasn't a Dead body, just to see what happened next! In a purely professional way of course!

The future of blogging .... from NewNaw, to EMT to Mort ...

7:07 pm  
Blogger HEALTH said...

Wow man, you can write. You make the job seem so interesting you know inspite of the neccesary stress involved. I see ambulances here in Nigeria, but I don't think they have radios like you do. YOu really opened my eyes to the honourable work of an ambulance man.

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7:20 pm  
Blogger Wierdo said...

Good idea. Not only is it different but also I've discovered a New blog! I've never been here before *looks around nervously*

8:00 pm  
Anonymous Greg said...

Great idea, would love to see it again

1:40 am  
Anonymous Paul said...

i love the sternal rub...

freaking third party calls...
get a lot of people here who see 'dead' people sleeping by the train stations / etc, and of course even though they are usually drunk..they are still concientious when they get off the train 30 mins later, get home have a cup o tea they then call 911...freaking idiots..
um no..they just like sleeping where its warm...

or of course maybe they just drank a bottle of mouth wash / hair spray and having an afternoon nap..


getting to hate drunk natives...

take care

11:29 pm  
Anonymous Melly said...

Very nice cross blogging! As a former disp I know how hard it is not to know an outcome of calls...good job boys :)

6:47 pm  
Blogger NotQuiteHere said...

Belated responce - I've been in the world of assignments for a while :/

Do like the tag team blogging though, and as usual - to both of you - keep it up :)


12:48 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it a bad idea to want to try rubbing my knuckles on my own breast bone after reading this ?

6:51 am  

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