Monday, August 21, 2006

But the bus won't get through

The call was given as "89 year old female, ?suspended". I was working on overtime with another EMT, so the first thing we did was ask control to make sure the FRU was being sent, as it had a paramedic on it.

At the start of a shift with someone I don't normally work with, I always ask them what they'd like to do, as I really don't mind whether I drive or attend - especially when I'm on overtime. My crewmate had opted to attend, so as with every cardiac arrest, or "suspended" call, I put my foot down just that little bit harder.
On the way to the call, my crewmate clearly felt he was helping by shouting through the windscreen at traffic to "get out of the bloody way", even though they couldn't hear him.

I threw the ambulance round into the not-too-wide-but-not-exactly-narrow road of the address and parked it (or rather, dumped it) unceremoniously behind the FRU that was already on scene, leaving the blue lights on to indicate there was a good reason for not parking properly.

As we were grabbing our kit from the side door, a middle-aged woman came storming out of a neighbouring house.
"Oi!" she shouted. I looked around to see who she was talking to - surely she wasn't talking to us.
"Don't start looking round, I'm bloody well talking to you!"
"Sorry love, we're a bit busy at the moment," I replied, continuing to grab the resuscitation equipment.
"You can't leave your ambulance like that - the bus won't be able to get through!"
I stopped.
"I beg your pardon?" I couldn't believe what I'd just heard.
"I said you'll have to move your ambulance - the bus won't be able to get through - it's due in a few minutes."
There was one of her neighbours - a well liked lady in the street I found out later - apparently at deaths door, and this stupid woman was concerned about a bloody bus.
"Well it'll just have to wait," I retorted, and hurried off after my crewmate who'd already gone inside.
"But how's the bus going to get through?" the woman called after me. I ignored her.

It turned out that the 89 year old lady had been asleep, having a lay-in and her other neighbour who checked in on her every day had been unable to wake her up by knocking on the window and feared the worst.

We gave her a check-over anyway, and I waited until my crewmate had finished doing the lady's obs before wandering back out to the ambulance ten minutes later. There was no sign of the bus, but the irate neighbour was still there.
"Now I'll move the ambulance," I told her, and parked it properly, before retrieving the folder with the patient report forms in for my crewmate. The lady didn't want to go to hospital (and she didn't need to) so we were going to complete some paperwork and leave her in the care of her neighbour.
"I was worried the bus wouldn't get through," said the woman.
"I was worried your neighbour needed her life saving," I replied evenly.
"Is she ok then? She's a lovely lady."
"Yes, but she may not have been - and you delayed us. I suggest you re-consider your priorities before you have the unfortunate need to call us for a member of your family - how would you feel if we took a bit longer because we had to consider the way we parked above the need of a sick family member?"

She didn't reply, but returned to her house looking rather sheepish.

6 Comments:

Blogger Carmelo Alongi said...

Lovely post. People can become so wrapped up in their own lives, can't they?

9:11 am  
Anonymous Jo said...

Oh, nicely said!! Well done for being so polite and professional but for letting that lady know just how selfish she was being!

2:10 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took you ten mins to realise she was asleep, and three of you to do obs? You could have been less obstructive and moved the ambulance once you realised she was not in cardiac arrest.

3:41 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

nope - we discovered she was asleep straight away. There was plenty of room for the bus to get through if it had come - I was a bus driver (but not in London) before joining the ambulance service and have got full size coaches through smaller gaps than I'd left, hence the description of "not-too-wide-but-not-exactly-narrow". I was making a point to the woman.

6:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you guys are too polite over there. If this happened here in New York, I'd tell the woman to shut the hell up.

8:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good man for giving her what for, I'm sure you risked having a complaint made for doing it - but certainly the right thing to do. Tom.

8:28 pm  

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