Now, before I write this, let me just make something clear. I have a number of friends who work in the Police. They are as busy as we are (if not more) and equally, are under financial pressures with cuts to Officer numbers and an ever increasing amount of paperwork. I will not have anything bad said about the Police as their job is, at times, unenviable!
Now, that probably gives some indication as to what I’m about to write about.
Many months ago, in the middle of the night, while working with a Paramedic from another station, we were called to a 2 year old girl having a seizure. As we’re a rural station, it was about a 14 minute drive. Our ambulances weigh almost 6 tonnes and are powered by 2.5 litre engines with upwards of 250,000 miles on the clock, so they’re not that fast, especially through the winding lanes around here.
We arrived to find a Rapid Response Paramedic who had been there around 5 minutes, administering Oxygen to a very grey, lifeless looking little girl lead on the floor twitching. I think we all simultaneously thought the same: “SHIT!”.
We set to work with our ABC’s. I first made sure we had an airway by inserting a Nasal Airway (google it, seriously) and taking care of the Oxygen, while my colleagues began trying to find the cause in order to correct it. We noted she had a high temperature and a new rash on her chest, her parents said she had been grizzly all day.
She was still fitting so we gave a drug which works to stop the seizure. It didn’t work. This is what we call Status Epilepticus – a condition that quickly leads to death if left untreated – possibly caused by ?Meningitis! Thankfully, a critical care doctor from our HEMS unit had arrived by road. She carried a greater range of drugs and was able to give something to sedate the girl in order to stop the fit as well as an anti-biotic to try to stop the infection doing any more damage. We lifted her onto the stretcher and prepared for the blue light drive to a Children’s A&E in the nearest city, some 10 miles away.
Off we went, me driving, 2 Paramedics and a Doctor in the back of the Ambulance with a critically unwell, unconscious 2 year old on the stretcher. At this point, the Doctor was breathing for the patient with a Bag Valve Mask (BVM).
It was an uneventful journey, taking it steady through the lanes making sure not to turn corners too hard as it makes working in the back very difficult. Into the city on the wide empty roads meaning I could make good progress. In the near distance just off a large roundabout, on the exit I needed, was a ‘Police, Road Closed’ sign, with a response car blocking the road and a single Officer stood there. I drove up, blue lights flashing, wound down the window and asked what was happening.
“A man is threatening to jump from the roof so I can’t let you through.”
“Oh” I replied “but I’ve got a patient I desperately need to get to hospital.”
“I can’t let any traffic through at all.”
“You don’t understand, I’ve got a critically unwell child onboard that I need to get to the Children’s Hospital immediately.”
“Sorry” came the reply.
I shouted through to the Doctor in the back that we would have to take a diversion.
“Didn’t you say that this child is critically unwell?”
“Yes, I did” as I fumbled with the MDT to find a new route in this unfamiliar city.
Diversion planned, we pulled away and continued ‘blueing’ to Hospital.
We arrived safely and took the patient into resus’ where the Doctors and Nurses worked hard to save her.
Thankfully – as I found out about a week later – she survived and was doing well on a ward.
My gripe here isn’t really about the Police Officer who was following orders, but to the selfish man who decided he wanted to try to jump from a roof!
All ambulances received a message stating that Police had requested a ‘silent approach’ to all jobs (lights but no sirens) in order to stop this man jumping. So, because of the actions of ONE man (who never did jump, following 4 HOURS of negotiations), multiple ambulances were hindered getting to emergencies, and the little girl who wasn’t breathing could have died due to the delay in getting to hospital!
I’ve been to suicides before. Those who actually want to do it, do so quietly without bothering anyone else. This idiot, it turns out, wanted attention from his ex-wife! Which I’m sure he got.
I’m glad nobody did die. and it is easy to get the ‘red mist’ when dealing with an unwell child, but this one really made me mad and still gets my back up a bit!