Monday, 23 August 2010


Red 2, the second highest priority for a call coming in to the ambulance service. In the main determinant - the old favourite - Difficulty in Breathing. In the extra information the screen tells of a 40-year-old with a history of asthma. We race to the scene, find the front door open, and call in to find where the patient is hiding. We take in the oxygen bag, defibrillator, and all manner of equipment to deal with this life-threatening emergency.

A voice calls from the front room, and we follow the noise. The room is one of several in a large house, clearly now divided into several micro-apartments. A shared bathroom and filthy kitchen the only rooms with no external locks on the doors. The patient is sitting comfortably on the bed in the tiny room that is a bedroom, living area and laundry room all rolled into one.

Recently I've been charged with mentoring a student paramedic, (a brave decision by the powers that be...) and for most of this mentorship, he's in charge of the patients.

"Good morning. My name's Sash, what's your name?" Confidence is one of his strong points.

"Adam". A man of few words, obviously.

Adam seems to be having no difficulty in breathing at all, so Sash is a little confused.

"What seems to be the problem this morning?" Morning at this point is just after 5am, after another very long and busy night.

"I can't sleep." The words resonate well with your local friendly insomniac, yet at the same time grate a little.

"How long have you not slept for?"

"Since I woke up yesterday morning."

Whilst Sash is questioning, I'm checking his basic observations. A matter of course, and of course it matters. I think.

"So it's just been tonight that you've not been able to sleep?"

"That's right." I look up, just to make sure I heard correctly.

"Has this ever happened before?" Sash's perseverance is starting to show signs of frustration.


"So why have you called the ambulance? What would you like us to do?"

"Just take me to hospital. Maybe a doctor can tell me why I can't sleep."

Home remedies were suggested, a visit to the GP was suggested, an attempt to go to back to bed with a cup of cocoa was suggested. And all were rejected out of hand.

"I just want to go to the hospital. You're not doctors. I want to see a doctor."

At a loss for options, Adam was invited into the ambulance, took his seat, and we set off for hospital. We still can't refuse to take people to hospital if they're adamant they want to go.

I stay in the back of the ambulance to keep an eye on Sash and his ambulance aid, whilst our driver for the shift takes her place in the pilot's seat. We all know that there's not much to be said or done, yet I'm keen to see how Sash deals with a call that really shouldn't be.

The hospital is about a fifteen minute journey away. Sash starts to fill in the paperwork, name, address, baseline observations. Adam's not in any mood to talk, Sash has nothing to say, and I sit observing from the sideline.

About two minutes into the journey, I cough quietly. Sash looks up from his scribblings, and I mouth a 'Well done' to him. Confused, he asks me what for. I nod in Adam's direction and congratulate Sash on fixing the patient.

I can only stare at the patient as a strong feeling of jealousy starts to creep over me.

Adam's sitting there, held in place by his seat belt, quietly snoring and sleeping like a baby.


RapidResponseDoc said...


trojan631 said...

No way is this the crap you have to put up with?

Also why were there three of you in the truck is that because you can then propely supervise the stoob?

And another great bit of writing A* mate keep safe out there.

Eileen said...

My younger daughter - now a paramedic - ALWAYS went to sleep within 5 mins of being in the car! But please tell us what happened when you got to hospital - with the chief complaint being a lie and all... Did Adam realise the irony?

@trojan631 - a student is a student. Not qualified so can't treat, if they're there to be in charge of the patient there's not a lot of point being the driver in the front - so a full crew, one drives, one is with the patient making sure the student does it right.