Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Crossover Post With Beaker

The call seemed to be a run-of-the-mill straightforward call.

"30 year old female, unconscious in clothes shop," said the screen - well, actually it named the shop, but I'm not going to here. "Patient woke up, but has gone back to sleep again," the screen updated. Probably a bit of attention seeking going on.
My phone beeped - it was Beaker. "I've taken your call - beep beep, shit truck coming through!" It had become a bit of an in-joke after the total rubbish we went to the last time our shifts coincided.
"Probably seen the price of the jeans," I joked to my crewmate as we made our way to the call.

We arrived at the address. It wasn't a clothes shop, it was a general corner shop. The caller had given the wrong name for the shop. I made a mental note to tease Beaker about it later.

As we walked to the door, I noticed a woman sitting in the window of another section of the shop. She was reaching to shelves on either side of her, pulling things off them, ripping them apart, throwing some on the floor, and shoving some into her mouth.

We entered, making sure to keep a safe distance from her while we assessed what was going on.
My crewmate spoke to the patient, who replied by turning round and spitting at her, spraying the shop with half chewed bread and sesame seeds.
"I'll get the police," I said, and made my way back to the truck. I was waiting for control to acknowledge my request to speak to them, when I was tapped on the shoulder. I turned round, and a man said "She's come out of the shop now, and is sitting in front of a bus." He pointed to where the woman was. I stepped back so I could see her - sure enough, she was sitting in front of a bus. Then she crawled under it. She'd managed to bring a very busy high street to a stand still, and there was quite a crowd gathering to watch. I pressed the priority button on the radio, and asked for urgent police.

While we waited for the police, the bus driver got off and took a picture of her on his phone. "My boss'll never believe me if I don't," he said, then added he would be adding it to facebook later!

The police arrived, dragged her out from under the bus, and then detained her under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 1983. This is where the fun really started.

None of the local mental health units had any space, so we waited while the police tried to find a bed for the patient. One unit was closed due to lack of staff, another wasn't taking patients in because there was an "incident" going on, and one refused point blank because the patient was on "their" patch.

Eventually, after about 2 hours sitting at the side of the road, and the Chief Inspector had got involved and lost his temper with the police Mental Health Liason, a bed was found at a hospital miles away. We set off, arriving half an hour later. We pressed the buzzer at the door of the secure unit, and a nurse came to the door. He proceeded to have what became quite a heated argument with the police as he refused to accept the patient, again because she hadn't been picked up locally.

The officers with us got back on to the Chief Inspector. He was far from happy, and told us to stay where we were while he made a few more phone calls. We waited, and waited. Then we waited some more.

Finally he came back to us, telling us the nurse would be reappearing shortly with good news. He did, and we were able to leave our patient in the care of the mental health team.

We'd spent over 4 hours on that job. It never ceases to amaze me that if the local unit is full, it can be an absolute bloody nightmare finding a bed for a patient in need of help from a mental health unit. I don't understand how a unit can refuse to accept a patient when they have the space available, just because they were picked up in a different area. It annoys me immensley - these patients need help, not to be used as a human tennis ball being batted around between units who fight amongst themselves over who's going to take them. Meanwhile, the police and ambulance are stuck, unable to become available for the next person needing help.

Still, despite the eventual result of the patient getting appropriate help from the appropriate team, the government will still see this as a failure - we arrived on scene 10 minutes after the cll had been answered by Beaker - the government says we should have got there in 8 minutes, because it was a category A call.

Ah well....bugger 'em!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Full Circle

In the last week, in consecutive jobs, I've seen the full circle of life - albeit back to front.

The last job of my last shift last week was a cardiac arrest. Despite the job running exactly as it should, the patient sadly died on scene.

The first job of the week this week was what's known as a "BBA" - Born Before Arrival (at hospital). I delivered a beautiful baby girl.

It's strange how the job goes sometimes, but these events remind me that as well as the tragedy of a family losing a loved one, we also see the joy of a new addition to a family.

I also recognise that I have witnessed in consecutive shifts, the balance of nature.