So, did ya miss me?

It’s time to come back from my writing break. While I have been hermit like I’ve had time to try and sort myself out – and by Jove, I think I’ve done it! I still haven’t had my month off work, I’m horribly bad at organising stuff! Some interesting stuff has happened at work, some good some bad. The bad was when a violent drunk landed a surprisingly well aimed foot on my shin then proceeded to “chase” me and my crewmate back to the ambulance and then down the road… (I use the word chase in the loosest possible sense of the word – he could barely walk…) That was bad because I pride myself on being able to out manoeuvre your average drunk – I was highly disappointed with myself! And the good thing is about to form the main part of my story…

It was a lovely sunny day (we have had some – honest) and my normal crewmate was off so I was with one of our lovely new technicians. We were sent a job which had been given one of our lowest priorities; it was to one of our regular abusive callers. She’s a fifty something year old who seems to call an ambulance just to hurl abuse at us, only once have I ever seen her *actually* ill and even then it was only a nasty case of the ‘flu. Today she had called because her knees were aching. So when we were cancelled for a higher priority call I wasn’t broken hearted…

The call arrived on our screen as  “RTC 25 year old male with a head injury.” This usually means a minor bump to the head… but not on this occasion… we arrived 3 minutes after the call was received, the police were already shutting off the road. What rattled me slightly was the fact that the police looked a little too pleased to see us. There was a small crowd of people around something on the floor and a police officer waving us over. We stopped next to the unknown object, as I opened the door of the ambulance I noticed a twisted lump of metal which was once possibly a motorbike or moped – it was hard to tell. As I approached someone shouted “his airway’s compromised” and all of a sudden I realised that I was about to experience my first real trauma job. I called to my crewmate and asked him to grab the suction unit from the back of the ambulance and made my way through the crowd, as I started my primary survey I looked past the large deep cuts all over his face and realised that the guys breathing was not good – his airway was clear which meant that it was probably his lungs. A closer inspection of his chest and I noticed subcutaneous emphysema– this is never going to be a good thing for him and the associated pneumothorax would explain why he was struggling to breathe. With an impact fast enough to cause injuries like that we had to consider a possible c-spine injury, so we tried to immobilise him, this was to prove difficult – due to the fact that he was now suffering from cerebral irritation. For those who don’t know, it is caused by a lack of oxygen which in my guys case could have been caused by either the failure of his lungs to work or because of a head injury – either way it’s something which I couldn’t do a lot about except keep the oxygen mask on him. At this point I asked my crewmate to get on the radio and request HEMs urgently, shortly afterwards our FRU arrived and I was pleased to have an experienced pair of hands with me. It was still only about 7 or 8 minutes after the call came in so I gave her a quick run down on what I’d found, she began to remove his clothes so that when HEMS arrived they would be able to do their thing immediately. My crewmate was getting the bed and spinal board off the back of the ambulance and I was doing my best to maintain an airway. HEMS arrived quickly – and I’ve never been so happy to see the orange jump suits! Once they arrived they anaesthetised the patient, inserted chest drains and stabilised him, it was quite something to watch his oxygen levels return to normal. We took him to hospital and the doctors got straight to work.

It was only when I was talking to the HEMS doctor afterwards that I realised what had just happened. So many things had been in that guys favour, he was only minutes away from an ambulance when the accident happened, then another couple of minutes after that he had 3 ambulance people working for him, and he was very close to the Royal London Hospital which is where HEMS come from and it’s also an expert trauma hospital. It was good for me because I got to do what I was trained to do, and the feeling that I actually played a part in saving someones life is one that I won’t forget.

Another thing I realised is that the first people on scene were people not trained in trauma management – they were first aiders who had stopped to help, I have no idea how they must have felt because even with a fully stocked ambulance behind me I have never been so relieved to be able to hand over a patient. I never thanked them at the time, but they had done all the right things, they were trying to keep him still and doing their best to maintain an airway, if this sounds familiar – well done guys and gals!

And there’s good news, despite some substantial injuries the guy involved is now recovering in hospital, and it looks like he’ll make a good recovery! It’s things like this that make me remember why I signed up…

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~ by Laura on September 26, 2007.

7 Responses to “So, did ya miss me?”

  1. YES. YES. YES. Glad you are back, you sound like you are in good shape !!! And rightley pleased with a job well done ref, the RTC. Catch you again Doc xxx

  2. Well done Laura!

    I’ve started my course now by the way….BLS (again) and denmark hill tomorrow! x

  3. welcome back honey! how was last nite??!! x

  4. Hiya hun glad you’re back! Was last night good? We must meet soon feels like ages since ive seen you!!! xxx

  5. Welcome back! I missed you!

  6. Welcome back, thank goodness you changed to black text on white, the old white on black was doing my eyes in.

  7. Yay! Welcome back Laura. So glad that you have been able to get yourself sorted out. I hope that life will be kind to you from now on … you definitely deserve it.

    As for the theme of the post … well that was certainly a lucky chap. Every link in the chain of survival made of gold-plated top quality tough stuff. As you say a big well done to those first aiders. I’ve been a FAW (for 6 years about 7 years ago now) and I’m not sure that I would have been able to do as well as them in a similar circumstance. Apart from the refresher courses, I never actually got to practice what I had learned. BTW I wonder if those first aiders know that this was a successful job and that they played a big part in saving the patient?

    So Hooray for a good job and a chipper Laura!

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