Saturday, January 26, 2008

A Sense Of Perspective

I read a post by Kal, over at Trauma Queen. His is another 'Emergency Services' Blog I recommend. I personally find it interesting to see the shit these guys have to put up with, even before they get to the Hospital. Just don't call him / them 'AmbulanceMen'.

Anyway, since my Night Shift was relatively uneventful, aside from planning to elope with one of the Nurses to Cambodia, I was struggling to think of something to post. Kal's post struck a cord.

Now, I may have posted about this before... my memory bites, and I do have a habit of repeating myself, as any of Shroom's friends will tell you. But I just can't be arsed to plow thru' my own archives. So, if you've heard it before, I'm sorry. Perhaps someone could discretely let me know I've begun to tell the same tales over and over, before I turn into the old man in the corner, endlessly recycling war stories...


A little while ago, I was at home, visiting Ma and Pa Shroom. An old school friend and I were off out for a few drinks, passing through the collection of shops, restaurants and estate agents that goes to make up the senior Shrooms environs. As we approach one such restaurant (which, trivia fans, used to be a grocers), I see both Police and Ambulance outside. I am almost pathologically nosey, and sidle up to the window.

My gut tightens, then loosens, just a little. On the floor, surrounded by the attendant detritus that goes with it, is a young man being resuscitated. Full CPR. I approach the Copper on the door.
'Any need for a doctor on scene?' I enquire. In my experience, the Police are happy to let yo get involved. I remember him being young, and he looks pale, anxious, unsure.

'In there'; he opens the door, points unnecessarily. I can hear the sound cloud, the aural miasma that goes with an out of hospital resus. The Paramedic's voices, calm, ordered. Other voices, close to hysteria; these will be the patient's friends; we ask people if they want to watch the resus in Hospital, assign them someone to be with them, hold them, answer their questions.

These people have no choice - it's right here, live, interactive. No red button required.

The restaurant is divided into halves, by a low arch in the wall. Where I've entered is in the first half; the action is next door. The restaurant is full, and the patrons don't know what to do. Something dreadful is clearly happening next door; they can't see it, mostly, but they can hear it; they all know what's going on.

They don't know what to do. Most of them are eating, making small talk, desperately telling themselves that 10 feet away a small terrible drama is being played out. It's incredibly bizarre.

I pitch through next door, introduce myself, hoping that I will know this crew. I worked at the local hospital for 18 months, maybe they'll know me, remember me.

They don't.

Now, while the Police are usually happy to let any Tom, Dick or Harry through, the Paramedics and Techs are not. Why should they be? They know what they're doing; they don't need help, especially not from someone who might be a nutter. If I offer to tube the patient, and stick it in his belly, they carry the can.

Somehow, I do enough to convince them I'm on the level. 3 people on the resus makes life easier. They let me do compressions, the AED tells us when to shock the patient. He is young, maybe younger than me, and something terrible has happened to frighten his heart into the violent, spikey rhythm we see on the monitor.

When the drugs are gone, the time has come. Time to run, get him to hospital now; a wider selection of drugs awaits, and maybe, maybe salvation. I see it in their eyes - do they see it in mine? He's been down 20, 30 minutes in total, and while his rhythm is still in turmoil, and he's still having electricity passed through his failing body, his chances are bleak.

Now, and this was the point of this whole thing really, outside the restaurant, the road is narrow, two lanes only, narrow lanes, one already blocked by the DayGlo rig, that we jokingly used to call The London Big White Taxi Service. To get everyone out safely, the Police block the second lane.

Now it seems obvious to me, that when someone is wheeled out of a restaurant, Paramedics clearly engaged in CPR (and surely everyone knows what that looks like? Don't they watch Casualty?), escorted by Police, a crowd of tearful, sometimes screaming people in tow, that this person is not well.

That his situation might be more serious than your dinner / the pint with your mate / whatever else you will know be 10 minutes late for.

But, no.

While the cars further back quietly waited, used to jams around here, those at the front, those with the clearest view of the end of this man's life, begin to hurl a torrent of abuse. I see no point in reprinting it here, but suffice to say some of the invective was strong enough to result in an extra delay to discuss their choice of language with the Police.

5 minutes later and the road is clear. The diners are still eating.

I catch my mate, and we go for a pint, both just a little bit happier to be alive


Chrysalis Angel said...

People never cease to amaze me. We've had incidents hear where we were en route with a patient to the hospital and people are trying to pass us. Lights going, sirens...We turned in the license plates on some of these people, and they were ticketed later. I just do not get what they are thinking.

the little medic said...

Agree with the above, some people....

I wonder how they'd feel if it was them, or perhaps their children? Would they still hurl abuse... I suspect actually they would.

Some people are never happy but these sort of people are just wankers. end of.

Kal said...

@ angel
How nice that they're ticketed, the police in our neck of the woods couldn't care less about chasing up people who mess around when we're on lights!


Mousie said...

Saddened, disappointed, but unfortunately not surprised.

There are selfish wankers all around us...

Rainbow dreams said...

This should shock me - but it doesn't... it makes me sad that people can have so little understanding - they aren't even worth trying to explain to though - they still wouldn't get it...

Have come here via mouse and hope you don't mind I linked to you too.. Katie

Chrysalis Angel said...

Oh geez, I just stopped back in to check on you Shroom, and see that I'd made a grammar error. Sorry, I was coming down with a nasty virus and typed hear instead of here. I've been down all week with this. I hate when I do that.

I'm glad our police here ticket them. It's such a shame all agencies don't.