Friday, October 27, 2006

A quick post

This is only going to be a very quick post as I am on holiday, and internet access here costs £1 per 15 mins, and I've used half of that time already checking e-mails and catching up on other blogs.

Next week, I move home, and my ISP says it will take 10 days to move my broadband service. Why I have no idea, but there we are. Hopefully they will provide me with at least a dial-up service while I'm waiting to get connected.

So I return to work on Monday for two shifts, then have the rest of the week off while I move. And at a time when I need to do overtime to get some extra cash, the LAS has £3 million taken off it cos it managed its finances so well last year and finished in the black last year. This now means that overtime is almost non-existant as the service cannot afford to pay us.

Looks like I might have to go back to doing some ad-hoc bus/coach driving to make the extra cash. Good job I've still got my bus licence....

Friday, October 20, 2006

Helpful Passers By

If you haven't seen the Big White Taxi Service before, please feel free to follow the link, but remember that this is a "Virtual Messroom" for ambulance staff up and down the country - and from abroad too, and as such is filled with the kind of language you might hear in the messroom, and not the polite language we use to our patients. It is our "Sounding Off Board" so is filled with the general moaning about the job etc that we probably wouldn't get away with at work and certainly not in front of patients. It is also filled with "Black Humour". You have been warned!

I found the following on the forum and gave me a good belly laugh. I've reproduced it here for all to see. It will certainly be appreciated by ambulance staff:


Would all helpful passers by please note:

If you really must ring for an ambulance for someone you see collapsed/dead/fitting/sat in a shop doorway, please ring then, and not three hours later, by which time – not surprisingly – the deceased has got up and left.

Two adult males sitting outside South Kensington tube station, sharing a bottle of Diamond White cider are NOT collapsed – they are having breakfast/dinner/lunch/a party. Singing, talking, vomiting and belching are all indications that the said males are alive.

Someone who is sitting in a shop doorway when it’s pissing with rain is SHELTERING, not collapsed.

Just because someone with crutches is sitting down, they are not necessarily in need of medical intervention. Having hospital crutches is a clue. They have already been to hospital, and have been discharged.

If you really feel you just have to interfere in the life of a person happily sitting there drinking himself into alcoholic oblivion, when you ask him if he needs an ambulance, please take it as a massive clue when he says “Faaaaaaaaarrrrrrkkkkkk Ovvvvvvvvvvv!!!!!” This is his little way of saying “Thank you for your concern, but I’m fine.”

When someone tells you they are fine, and they do not want an ambulance, please, please, please believe them. They are NOT lying – they know what they are doing.

Someone who is staggering between point A and point B CAN walk. The helpful clue is the movement of the legs and feet. If someone tells you that they cannot walk, but their legs are moving, THEY ARE LYING. Don’t believe them.

Green stuff coming from a drunks’ nose is NOT a reason for an emergency ambulance – it is actually a reason for an emergency hankie. Green stuff emanating from the patient’s nose is very rarely Cerebro-Spinal Fluid, despite what you might have learnt from Casualty, ER and Holby City. It is SNOT.

If you see a pair of legs under a car, and the legs are surrounded by mechanic’s tools, the person under the car has NOT been run over – he is more than likely to be FIXING it. Other clues are the radio playing nearby, and the deceased singing along to the music.

Talking of cars, if you happen to see several cars colliding with each other, and you can’t get through to the ambulance service, have a look around you. Yes, the other twenty people with phones stuck to their ears are ALL calling the ambulance service. That’s why you can’t get through. And please tell us the right location – saying you are on Greenford Broadway when you are on Southall Broadway is less than helpful. And please don’t insist you are right and the other twenty callers are wrong – it is highly unlikely.

Oh – and – please do not call the ambulance service if you see 200 people fighting on Fulham Broadway on Friday night. We are not remotely interested, and will not become interested until the police arrive. The police have guns, batons and CS gas, and can deal with a large fight a lot better than two female LAS personnel who are five feet nothing and jointly weigh 12 stone, and are only armed with rubber gloves and a frothy cappuccino from the Wild Bean Cafe. Please ring the police first – we’ll pop along a bit later. Honestly. We will.

Finally – the dictionary meaning of the phrase “passer by” is “A person who happens to be walking past someone or something.” It does not say “A person who stops and interferes. Don't do it Mate - it's not worth it!!

Originally posted by "The Saint" on the Big White Taxi Service Forum. Link to the original post is here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006


I'm moving home over the next couple of weeks so there's going to be a bit of a shortage of posts, plus it'll depend how quick I can get broadband connected at the new house.

And in the middle of it all, we're going on holiday for a week. Not entirely sure how that happened, but not the best timing I'll admit. Still, might be good to break up the stress of moving.

I'll post as often as I can.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hysterical Lodger

My crewmate has taken this weekend off, so I'm working with reliefs this weekend.

Last night....well, actually early this morning, we were called to an 83 year old lady who'd been found on the floor at the side of her bed by the lodger, a young lady from Wales who is training to be a teacher.

Mary couldn't remember how she had ended up on the floor. She remembered coming upstairs, but nothing after that. She had no pain, and careful prodding didn't reveal any wincing or cries of "Ouch!" so we sat her up.

I was worried that she didn't remember how she ended up on the floor, and suspected she may have blacked-0ut, so I suggested we pop her down to hospital for a check up with a doctor. At that time of the morning, the local A&E shouldn't have been too busy and it was possible she wouldn't be there long, but Mary was adamant that she didn't want to go.

The young lady was quite upset and shocked that she'd found Mary on the floor, and had had a fit of hysterics thinking that Mary might have been dead. Despite the fact we now had Mary sitting up, the hysterics continued, and she spent the next 15 minutes trying to persuade her to go to hospital. Mary was having none of it. I did her pulse which was fine, her blood pressure was a little on the low side but not horrendously, but her blood sugar was quite low. Mary couldn't remember when she'd last eaten, so I asked the lodger to go and make Mary a cup of tea with at least three sugars in it, and some toast with some jam on, and explained that this was to bring Mary's blood sugar back up.

The lodger went off to her task, and Mary told us all about how she enjoyed going on holiday to various places abroad, while the lodger continued her hysterics into a mobile phone while making the toast and tea. Then the smoke alarm went off. The neighbours must have been really impressed. The lodger had burnt the toast due to lack of concentration. Mary told us the lodger was training to be a teacher. "Not a drama teacher by any chance?" asked my crewmate flippantly. "Yes actually," said Mary. Somehow we weren't surprised.

As Mary didn't want to go to hospital, I rang control to arrange the on-call GP to visit. The voice on the other end of the phone sounded rather familiar and I suspected it was Mark from Neenaw, but I wasn't sure so didn't want to ask. I'm sure he'll tell me if it was.

We left with the lodger calmed by the knowledge that a GP was going to visit, and Mary had got herself to bed.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

We're not coming!

It was about 11pm on Thursday night when the activation phone rang and I answered it.

"Hello, do you know Ethel Smith?*" asked the dispatcher.
"Oh God!" I moaned. "What's she rung up for this time? Don't tell me, she's fallen with ?injuries."

My crewmate paused in the act of picking up the ambulance keys. Ethel is one of our regular callers. We're pretty suspicious of her calls on our station. We're usually sent to Ethel for "Fall ? Injury", but when we get there it ends up being something completely different. The last time a crew went to her, the real reason turned out to be because her commode was too far away from her bed and she wanted it moving closer. The time before that was because she thought her house was haunted. Other reasons include a lightbulb had blown and the TV remote didn't work.

"Er nooo, it's because she's too hot and wants her radiator turning off," said the dispatcher.
"You what?! You're not sending us on it are you?"
"No, I went down to the call-taker while the call was still in progress and told her I had no intention of sending an ambulance to turn off a radiator. I wanted to let you know because I gather you're collecting a list of the times she calls and what for."
"That's great, thanks."

When we get persistant regular callers who are blatantly misusing the service, we begin to collate evidence so we can do something about stopping them calling. We get regular callers who have genuine reasons for calling, and we do all we can to help them. It's the time-wasters we want to get rid of for obvious reasons.

On this occasion, she slipped up and told the call taker the real reason for calling, and the allocator refused to send.

If only she'd slip up like that more often....

* Not the patient's real name.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Calling 999

You know, it's quite bizarre that when I'm planning a post, Mark from Neenaw goes and writes about the same thing. I suppose it saves me some work....

I went to an old chap having a CVA (stroke) a couple of days ago. He had an obvious right sided weakness, with the right side of his mouth drooping down and unable to use his right arm. He'd also lost the use of his speech.
He knew that there was something wrong with him, because he kept picking his right hand up with his left, and dropping it down onto the bed as if to say "Why won't this work?"
We took him to the ambulance, and after doing the necessary obs, we took him to hospital on blue lights.

His wife came with us, and she was understandably quite upset. I reassured her during the journey, and she asked me how it worked when she made the 999 call, as she felt guilty because she'd kept telling the call taker to "hurry up", so I explained the process to her. She asked me to pass on her apologies to the call-taker, which I did through the radio operator.

So I was going to write on here about making a 999 call, but Mark Myers has beaten me to it. I guess he's better qualified to do it than I.

P.S. I know how much you all like to know the outcome of my patients - he's going to be in hospital for at least a few days, but the doctor told me he should make a good recovery.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Nobody Home

Last night, we were sent to a "collapsed behind locked doors". It's usually an elderly person who's fallen and can't get themselves up again, someone who has passed away, or they've caught their alarm pendant while they've been out and so there's nobody home. The MDT told us that the police were on their way to gain access for us.

We arrived to find the police there, and unable to gain any response from banging on the door - usually, if it's a person who's fallen, they'll call out so we know they're conscious. When this happens, we usually try to find a relative who has a key and wait for them to come and let us in. If we don't get an answer, then the size 9 key is used. If that doesn't work, the police get their "enforcer" out. This is a big heavy metal ram that is used to batter the door open and usually causes lots of mess and broken doors and frames.

The size 9 key didn't work, so one of the officers radioed up for the enforcer to be brought.
"Dave'll be happy," he told me. "This'll be the first time he's had chance to use the enforcer since he did his course last week." While we waited for the enforcer, a few more kicks were aimed at the door, which still refused to give way.

Then a neighbour appeared. "What's going on?"
"The careline alarm has been activated - we think someone's collapsed inside," explained the copper as he got ready to aim his boot at the door again.
"Stop - I've got a key for the back door. And there's nobody there - he's gone on holiday to Portugal," said the neighbour.

She let us in, and sure enough, the flat was empty. We located the careline machine, activated it and spoke to the careline call-centre. We decided there must have been a fault which caused the alarm to activate.

The enforcer was cancelled, and Dave sounded rather disappointed he wouldn't be putting his newly acquired skill of breaking a door down into practice.

At least the owner won't be coming home to find his door smashed....

Monday, October 02, 2006

Technical Question

I might be reasonably ok at helping to fix people, but I've got a bit of a computer problem I need some help with.....

I have an external hard drive which has got loads of files on that I need, but my computer has stopped recognising it and the device manager reports Error Code 10: Drive unable to start.

Has anyone got any ideas how I can get it working again?