While on my rest days, I thought I’d recall the tale of my first operational shift on a front-line emergency ambulance. It was, unfortunately, a night shift. I was so nervous and excited I didn’t manage a moments sleep beforehand.
It was the start of December and pretty cold; with my new fleece I had my neatly ironed uniform, my freshly polished and bulled boots, my new “Student Paramedic” epaulettes and my very own stethoscope. I was ready…or so I thought.
Having worked in our control room as an emergency call-taker, I had a pretty good idea of what sort of incidents came through on 999. Many of the calls are for Shortness of Breath (SOB). One of my first ever callouts was to a lady short of breath.
Now, in our training, we’d covered heart failure. I’d even done a small presentation about how it can cause SOB and people can be very unwell. What we didn’t leant in training, is that heart failure (or as it’s known in our field, LVF and essentially causes the patient to drown in their own fluid) causes a look of fear so great that you feel almost powerless to ease their worry.
This poor lady was in such a state, we could hear her bubbling with every breath before we entered the room!
Thankfully, at this stage I was ‘3rd manning’ with two Paramedics with over 50 years experience between them. They took control of the situation rapidly, giving a cocktail of drugs that undoubtably saved her life. I drove on blues to the hospital with her onboard, straight to one of their resus bays.
I suddenly realised that this is where I’d do my learning, not in a classroom. That experience terrified, excited and intrigued me greatly.
My first shift over I had a taste for it and couldn’t wait for my next shift.
I still get a buzz from it all now.