I wanted this blog to give an insight into daily Ambulance life for an English Ambulance Service, but I’m aware that I tend to concentrate on specific cases of interest. So, I thought I’d write about today – a typical day.
Arrive at work 06:45 to relieve the night crew.
We say hello, ask how their night has been then set to checking the vehicle over for our shift. The night Paramedic signs over the Morphine to the day Paramedic and advises of any issues with the vehicle, any problems at local hospitals or any incidents requiring intervention from an Officer.
We are supposed to have 20 minutes to complete a Vehicle Daily Inspection (VDI), but such is the nature of the beast that if an emergency comes in at 1 minute passed starting time, we have to go.
Today however, we remained undisturbed for 20 minutes. We check that the defibrillator is functioning, that we have full cylinders of oxygen, all of the drugs we need to carry are fully stocked and in date, that our response bag has all of the diagnostic equipment we need, that we have all of the paper work that we need, that the heater works, that all the blue lights work, that all of the vehicle lights (headlights, brake lights etc) are functioning, that we have fuel and lots of other things. Quite a lot to squeeze into 20 minutes.
Anyway, here’s a run down of today’s emergencies:
1st call was to a male who had collapsed in the bathroom after having a shower. He had no recollection of fainting and awoke on the floor covered in blood. He had a nasty cut to the head which had bled heavily – he also took blood thinners which didn’t help! He alerted his wife who had called 999. We dressed the wound, fully assessed him and took him to A&E as he needed stitching and further assessment as to why he collapsed. Also, as he took blood thinners and had suffered a head injury, we wanted to check that he did not have a bleed on the brain as a result of the trauma.
Our second call was while we were heading back to our base station, a lorry driver parked in a lay-by flagged us down as his colleague had hit his head on part of the lorry causing it to bleed. By the way he was frantically waving we thought it was bad, but, it was a small nick the size of the nib of a pencil. We gave him a plaster, completed all of the other checks that we need to do, filled out our paperwork and let him back to work with instructions to see his own Doctor to check his Tetanus status.
As soon as we cleared from that call, we were sent details of a male who was possibly having a heart attack. It was a patient I had seen about 4 months ago when he had his first heart attack. He was at his Doctor’s surgery with atypical pain. His doctor was concerned that the pain he was experiencing in his shoulder was referred pain from his heart. One of our Rapid Response cars arrived shortly before us and conducted an ECG which showed no abnormalities. His Doctor had booked him directly into a medical assessment ward to bypass A&E so the car took him in as it was unlikely he would deteriorate.
We just got back to station for some lunch, and no sooner had I put my baked beans on the hob that we got sent to a nearby town for a male who had fallen more 8 feet from a crane and was unconscious. We were asked to provide an early update of the air ambulance. We arrived to find that the he was in fact fully conscious and alert with no serious injuries, so stood the helicopter down. He had been knocked out for less than a minute and sustained a relatively minor head injury and a probable broken wrist. We took him to A&E giving him some good pain relief on the way.
5th call was an urgent case (normal road speed admission) for a lady with a looooooong medical history of just about every ailment you can imagine. A recent blood test revealed that her kidney function had reduced so she needed to be admitted to a ward for treatment. The Doctor felt it appropriate to book an ambulance to transport her so she could receive a full set of medical observations and and ECG so we might correct any problems we encounter. Everything checked out fine and it was an uneventful transport.
Our final emergency was at a Doctor’s surgery for a lady who possibly had pneumonia. A middle-aged lady who had a 2 day history of a cough with shortness of breath. Her Oxygen levels were reduced below normal limits so she needed admission to A&E. We took a quick hand over from a very busy Doctor and took her to the ambulance. We listened to her chest and heard a pronounced wheeze, so we set up a nebuliser (oxygen mask with a drug to help with the breathing) which worked a treat. We performed an ECG to rule out a cardiac cause of the shortness of breath – it revealed no abnormalities. We did, however, note that she had a temperature and her blood sugars were slightly raised. That along with a fast heart rate (tachycardia) and increased respiratory rate meant it was possible she was septic following a chest infection, so we took her to A&E where they will perform blood tests and chest X-rays to diagnose the problem and treat as appropriate.
120 miles covered, 6 patients and 3 cups of tea. Not a bad day overall, even managed to eat my beans on toast in the end!
Hopefully this highlights how we have to be learned in a wide range of things, from life threatening trauma to routine medical problems. All part of the enjoyment of the job – you really never know what you’ll see next!