Thursday, 2 December 2010


The patient we'd just dropped off at the hospital only became a patient when the police turned up. Far from being police brutality, it seems that they just seem to have an overwhelming effect on some people. Paulo had driven home from the pre-Christmas office drink, a warm up for the main event that was scheduled for mid-December. It was only supposed to be the planning meeting, but he decided to sample some of the drinks to help him decide what to make available for everyone else. Then he drove home. Well, about half way, before he met the kerb, burst a tyre and was stopped by a grass verge. A good Samaritan witnessed the incident, and as he drove past and kept going, he called for an ambulance. Paulo was uninjured, the crash and his escape a dichotomous result of his drunken state. The police turned up a few minutes later, and as soon as they said the magic words informing him of his arrest, Paulo collapsed.

Paulo fell to the ground, making sure he found somewhere soft to drop. His eyelids held tightly shut and hands making tight fists, he failed every test for unconsciousness known to any paramedic worth their salt. However, he still refused to open his eyes or speak, and therefore won the first round. The police had no choice but to send him to hospital, although rather than being let off by them, Paulo was accompanied all the way, and would be watched until he recovered from his mysterious ailment. Round two would be won by the police as soon as he woke up. Far from being sent home, Paulo would spend hours in A&E, and then more hours in a police cell. Round three would be up to the judge.

Having transported an officer and their quarry, we were then free to go back out on the road. We left the hospital, and half way back to station, saw a car veering across lanes, bouncing off the pavement, and showing a general disregard for any rules of the road. We called control and let them know that there was probably another drunk driver on the road and asked for police to attend before anyone was injured or worse. Following the car, we were given permission to use lights and sirens to see if that would help stop the driver, but both were completely ignored.

The car seemed to be accelerating away from us, and was heading directly for a line of traffic waiting at a set of lights. Assuming that our presence might be making the driver act more erratically and dangerously, we turned off the lights and sirens and slowed down. We waited for it to skirt around the line of cars, jump through the red light and across a busy junction. That wasn't even close to what happened.

The car didn't even brake. It slammed into the car at the back of the line and stopped dead, steam pouring out the hood seconds after impact. We pulled up behind the car, radioed in to let control know what had happened and requested another ambulance, as we'd probably have at least two patients. 

The blue van that had been stationary was shunted forwards a good distance right into the middle of the junction. Luckily the lights had changed, so there was no cross traffic and the car in front had already moved off, missing an impact by the thinnest of margins. The driver got out, and looking a little dazed, walked over to us cradling one arm in the other. Even from a distance we could see that he'd fractured his wrist. The police turned up at that point, and were tasked with babysitting him until we could assess the other driver.

The front of her car was half the size it should have been. She hadn't moved since the impact, and as we approached we could see that she was conscious, breathing, and seemingly uninjured. The expected smell of alcohol didn't materialise when we opened the door, although her speech was slurred, she was confused and her behaviour was erratic. Sure drunken signs, but lacking evidence, we carried out further checks. Within under a minute, we had the answer. As a police officer looked for physical clues, we searched for medical ones. A blood sugar check was all it took. Her sugar level had dropped to less than one (or eighteen for you Stateside persons). Most people I've seen with that level have been totally unconscious, and nowhere near a steering wheel. A few hundred drops of sugary water directly into her blood stream were enough to bring her back to reality, although not the one she remembered.

"What happened?"

"Well, you've had a hypo, and crashed your car. It seems that you've come out of it OK."

She took a moment to digest the information. A look of horror suddenly crossed her face. "What about the person I hit? Are they hurt?"

"Don't worry. They're on the way to hospital for a check-up." I didn't have the heart to tell her about the broken arm. "What's the last thing you remember?"

"I was having a meeting with some guy. I run an inn, and we were planning their Christmas do. He had a couple of drinks, maybe more than a couple, and I told him he probably shouldn't drive, but he went anyway. I hope he made it home in one piece! Maybe I should've taken my own advice too..." 

We asked about her medical history, whether she'd been eating regularly, all the other relevant questions for a diabetic whose blood sugar levels have dropped so low. She'd been doing everything right, so the reason remained unclear. There was still one thing we wanted to quiz her about.

"Do you remember the name of the person you met?" I couldn't believe the coincidence, and I didn't expect the answer. 

"Yeah. It was a foreign sounding name. Pablo I think." 

"Pablo? You sure?" 

She sat looking thoughtfully into the distance. "Oh. No it wasn't. It was Paulo. Not Pablo. Definitely Paulo." 

Two ambulance crew stared at each other in total silence, barely accepting the answer we'd just heard.

She broke the silence after a few seconds. 

"Instead of telling him to get a cab, maybe I should have asked him to drive me! It would probably have been much safer..."


flobach said...

London is a small place :-)

oneunder said...

To be fair, if she went with Paulo then there would have only been one car driving erratically not two.

And only one ambulance not three.

We need bolt guns, it would be quicker and cheaper in the ling run.

Nicki said...

Small world! Thanks for clearing up the BG reading of <1! I live in the US so 18 sounds a bit more familiar. Our meters would read "Lo" if they got much lower than 18!

I love the police-induced jobs! The ones that fake unconsciousness get a 16 gauge needle for an IV. I mean, they ARE unconscious, afterall! We can't take chances here! =)