Thursday, 16 June 2011

Two Feet

The rain is pouring down and I can't help but step across some muddy grass to get to the front door. I ring the doorbell and am thankful when it only takes a few seconds for Wendy to open the door - a torrential downpour is not my favourite choice of climate. As she pushes the door outwards, she looks back into the house and shouts. 

"They're here!" 

I wipe my feet and as I walk in I accidentally catch the strap of the bag on the door handle. 

"Can't your mate help you carry any of that?" 

"It's just me for now. There'll be another ambulance along soon enough." 

"Well, I don't know how you're going to get him off the floor on your own! I mean, he's been there for hours, and I've tried all I can do. He just keeps shouting at me that it hurts!" 

"Let's have a look and see. If I can help him on my own, then we'll do that. If not, I'll make sure he's comfortable, and we'll wait for a couple more pairs of hands." 

Clive's lying flat on his back, his legs in the kitchen, whilst his head and torso are out in the narrow corridor. It's rarely that these falls occur somewhere simple, and I have no choice but to step over him repeatedly, assessing for injuries and vital signs. 

"As long as I lie still," Clive's voice has a sing-song quality to it, "I really don't feel that ill. But if I try to get up or move, well, that's a different kettle of fish altogether." 

"Where's the pain?"

"In my left hip. I've already had the right one replaced, and I expect I've got the same treatment coming up now on the other side." There's no way I can move him on my own, and I've just been helpfully advised that the nearest crew may as well be in France. 

"The boss tells me you've been down here for hours. What time did you fall?"

"Oh, no. I only fell about ten minutes before she called you. She gets a little confused at times." He whispers the last bit, hoping not to upset his wife of more than fifty years. 

"I heard that!" She yells, out of sight, but clearly not out of earshot. "I don't get confused, thank you. Just forgetful!" 

Clive beckons me nearer. "Forgetful then, but selectively good hearing too."


"Told you!"

The crew arrive over half an hour later. In the meantime Clive's had all the pain relief I can safely give him, any minor wounds have been bandaged and I've strapped his legs together to try to take some of the strain off his hips. It takes about the same time again to manoeuvre a scoop stretcher into place to try to get him out the house. 

We split the scoop in two, separating the hinges at each end and gently move each side underneath him. We need to keep him as straight as possible to avoid moving his hip, but there's no way the now rigid stretcher will make the turn around the tight corner and into the narrow corridor. We try moving further into the kitchen to get a different angle, then try again to move in the opposite direction. The only success we have is in leaving dark footprints on the cream carpet. 

"I'm sorry, Clive, but there's nothing for it. We're going to have to stand you up. But don't worry, we'll keep you on this stretcher, strapped in, so you won't actually be standing at all. Is that all alright with you?" 

"No problem. Just do what you have to do." 

We add some extra straps for support, forming a "figure-8" around his feet and the bottom of the scoop, ensuring that when we stand him up, he won't move anywhere. 

"You can close your eyes if you like, it's probably a bit of weird sensation rising like a zombie." 

"With all that stuff you've given me, I feel like a zombie anyway!"

"Ah. That'll be the morphine. Told you it was good stuff." 

"You weren't kidding!"

After more to-ing and fro-ing, furniture moving and a few more wet, muddy footprints on the carpet, we finally manage to get Clive out to the ambulance and make sure he's as comfortable as possible for the journey. His wife joins him, and just before I shut the doors, I apologise. 

"Sorry about the footprints. If there's a next time, which I hope there isn't, I'll come in barefoot. Failing that, you could try calling when it's sunny instead." 

"Don't worry about it," says Clive. "Hopefully the next set of mucky footprints on there will be when I'm back on my own two feet." 


Anonymous said...

oh bless him, I hope he makes a full recovery.

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

I hope if I need an ambulance, the medics are just like you.

TOTWTYTR said...

Good work. I like that you folks use the scoop stretcher. It's incredibly effective for moving patients in tight areas. I'm a big fan of the figure 8 on the lower legs and feet. Do you use cross straps up top to keep patients in place if you have to carry them head first down a flight of stairs?

Michael Morse said...

I miss the scoop stretcher, they took them away a few years ago. Nice job telling the story, fely like I was there!

InsomniacMedic said...

Hey one and all! Thanks as always for commenting!
Lynda - most medics are. We might grumble a lot, but really we all wanna be loved :)
TOTWTYTR - Have also used the cross strap. Works a treat usually!
Michael - HOW can they take away one of the best pieces of kit??? Criminal...