Today was a difficult day for me.
When I started this blog, I knew that one day I’d be writing about something that has affected me in some way, and I knew that it would be hard to convey my feelings in the text you’re reading now (Hemingway, I ain’t!) . Nonetheless, writing about incidents that I struggle to leave at work is a good way to release the stress.
I was part of a non-qualified crew today, working with another Student Paramedic, within the scope of an ECA (Emergency Care Assistant). We were to be used to transport GP Urgent cases – non-emergency transport that needs an ambulance to A&E, backing up Paramedics on a car where the Paramedic will travel if any intervention is given/needed, and dealing with non-injury falls.
Our first incident was a P1 backup (the highest priority backup for an ambulance clinician on scene with a truly life threatening emergency) for a crew on scene with a 55 year old lady having an asthma attack. We were required to help with a lift, as the patient was quite large.
After a short emergency drive, we arrived at the address to find one of our colleagues ‘bagging’ (assisting respirations with a bag valve mask) the patient who was unconscious on the first floor of a small house. We helped as best we could by fetching spare oxygen, drugs and equipment to help us get her out of the house. We also called HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Services) with a Critical Care Doctor onboard, as the patient needed sedating and intubating (passing a tube down the windpipe to secure an airway). Once they arrived, there was a lot of people in a small space, so I took it upon myself to look after the patient’s 18 year old son. When there’s only two or three of you at a busy job like this one, it’s all too easy to neglect the family, so it was nice to have the time to spend explaining that his mum was very ill, and we’d be rushing her to hospital for emergency treatment. All he kept asking was “will she be ok?”, all I kept thinking was, ‘No. Probably not.’ I reiterated that his mum was very ill and the sooner we get her to hospital the quicker the Doctors could investigate and treat her condition. I asked if there was anyone he could call. The only people he had was his mum and his sister, who was on her was on her way back from work.
We eventually got the patient out of the house, and blue lighted her to A&E, and because my crew mate had travelled in the transporting ambulance (the first crew), I had followed to pick him up. Once there, I sat with the son again to check he was ok. He wasn’t. I don’t like seeing the faces of family members who are realising the gravity of the situation, it’s even worse with one so young.
I don’t yet know whether she survived or not…
The day got better, until our last job. An elderly lady being admitted with acute confusion. She’d had a Larygectomy so didn’t have the ability to talk, so I was lip reading. One moment, she was a perfectly normal lady, and we were ‘talking’ about her family and other things, then all of a sudden, her eyes would look like that of a startled horse. Big, glazed and staring. Staring at me, while grabbing my hands tightly mouthing ‘I love you’ and ‘where’s my mummy?’. This broke my heart.
Moments later, she’d ‘snap out of it’ and ask what just happened. I told her in full. The look on her face let me know that she knew she was, for want of a better expression, ‘losing her mind’. She broke down into tears when I left her in A&E, I don’t know whether she thought I was her Dad, or a family member. I can still she her terrified face now.
Hopefully a better shift tomorrow night. For now, a delicious chicken salad and a cider 🙂