My very first job as a paramedic was an eye opener, and an experience that will probably stay with me the rest of my career, just as my first cardiac arrest will. Though this will stay with me, not because I saved a life, not because it was a massive RTC, not because it was any gory trauma, but because I saw and experienced first hand the abuse that the ambulance service suffer every day.

It was my first placement shift, and I had just got on station and met my mentor. Learnt where the toilets are, where the brew facilities are (important stuff, y’know?!), and learnt all about the equipment we carry and what my mentor wanted me to do to help him when we were with patients. After about half an hour, we got a job…a mile or so away from the station. Jumped in the car, blues on, sat nav (B***H in a box!) telling us where to go. Hoofed it up the road, around a few roundabouts and down the street she told us to take. Flicked the halogen alley lights on, found the house number, and parked up. Got out, grabbed some gloves and the bags – feeling like a packhorse as I get loaded up! Walked up to the door…

On the door is a lovely hand written sign – “I’ve got CCTV, I can see you”. A shared “what the…?” with my mentor, and rang the bell. Walked in to find a rather rotund gentleman sitting quite happily in the first of many ridiculously shabby and messy houses I’ve seen. The smell of cigarette smoke clings to everything, and the reek of vomit and booze is in the air.  My mentor asks what’s wrong. “I’ve burnt meself” is the reply. He lifts his t-shirt to show a first degree burn, if that, smaller than the size of a CD, on his stomach. I go out to the car to get the dressings bag, and I tear open a burn dressing, my eyes watering at the smell of the house, and put it onto his burn. As we’re about to finish our paperwork and leave, Mr Housekeeper pipes up “I’ve got chest pain”, “My stomach hurts”, “I can’t walk”, “me doctors useless”.  For those not in the ambulance service, as soon as someone says they have chest pain, we have to take it seriously, and most of the time, take the patient to hospital.

But no, he doesn’t want to…in fact, he’s adamant he’s not going anywhere with us “PRICKS!”. He insists he can’t walk, he needs his wheelchair to go to hospital. But he won’t let us do any form of examination – no ECG, no history, nothing. He stands. He looks at us. Suddenly he reaches down, picks up our Lifepak (defib and ECG) and suddenly hurls it at our heads.

–To be continued–

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When it’s time…

Posted: January 26, 2012 in Work
Tags: , , ,

A collapse, simple job, check the patient over and maybe send him in for a check up…

As we speed along the dual carriageway, an update over the radio “patient is in cardiac arrest, no CPR being carried out”.

The car suddenly speeds up as my mentor jams the pedal to the floor, wheels squealing as we tear round roundabouts and corners, through junctions and over bridges to get there even faster.

We arrive on scene, leave the lights running, grab our bags and jog into your house, following the screams and hysterical crying into the living room. One look and we can tell your husband isn’t breathing, his lips and ears blue, eyes lifeless. We pull him out of the corner, rip his shirt open and I start on chest compressions as my mentor starts breathing for him. Counting under my breath “28…29…30”. We slap the pads on his chest, look at the monitor to see the crazy lines of his heart quivering in ventricular fibrillation (VF). Charge the defibrillator and shock him, energy coursing through his chest, making his limp body stiffen for less than a second, and then back to pounding away on his chest, feeling ribs crack under my palms, feeling his chest give way.

A crew arrive to back us up, and he is cannulated, adrenalin, amiodarone and fluids all coursing through his body, desperately trying to start his heart again. You’re in the kitchen, crying with your daughter and son-in-law, as we desperately fight to save the life of your husband. We scoop him onto a stretcher and run out to the ambulance, and I’m grabbed into the back and we accelerate off, flying over bridges so fast I swear the wheels and my feet leave the ground, as I desperately try to keep his blood moving around his body.

We arrive at hospital, shock you once more, and a doctor tells us to stop…he listens to the chest, looks at the screen, and decides to call it. As we tidy up, you arrive with your family in my mentor’s car and you’re taken inside to talk to the doctor. I get out, go and get my lunch that was bought just before we got the job, and sit down with a cup of tea. My mentor comes out, gives me a grin, and we head back to station to tidy up and re-stock.

I’m sorry we came running into your house.

I’m sorry I didn’t ask your name.

I’m sorry we couldn’t save him, your toyboy, after you’d been married almost 60 years.

And I’m sorry that it’s only just hit me, and made me think.

We did everything we could, tried everything possible, and fought the only way we know how to save his life.

So at university, apparently you have these things called lectures – who knew?!

For 9 weeks, from September til… (checks calendar) November, we had all sorts of lectures, some of which were useful, some…not so much! For those of you reading this who are on the course with me – you know who you are, and you know which lectures I mean!

We then had the wonders of OSCE’s… If you haven’t done any sort of medical training, you’ll have been spared the nightmare of OSCE’s, or Objective Structured Clinical Examinations (basically, practical exams), but they are either skill based or scenario based, and apparently videoed, and we had to prove that we could inject a plastic buttock with water, do a manual blood pressure (which I have yet to see done ‘on the road’), do a basic set of observations, stab someone’s finger to do a blood glucose test (didn’t actually stab a finger, just talked it through), demonstrate how to manage an airway, and show that we can lift things… Oh joy. Luckily for me, and unluckily for my future patients, I passed! Though more on them later…

Oh, and during all this – the wonders of assignments and essays. All of which, I am pleased to say, I have passed (though still waiting for the marks for one last essay I submitted just before Christmas…so maybe not).

And then out on placement, being driven very fast, powersliding round roundabouts at 2 in the morning, going about 90mph or so. Muchly fun, and highly recommended – for those who have blue lights on their cars! Hopefully I’ll be doing my emergency driving course in the summer and so will be let loose on blue lights in September time…watch out!

Hey folks of the wide wonderful interwebs!

So I suddenly realised it had been AGES since I had updated this…so I thought I’d make a start by letting you know what you can expect over the next few weeks:

  • A mini-series (I hope!) on applying for and being a student paramedic!
  • Some fun stories on my first semester of lectures
  • Some interesting, some sad, and some downright bizarre stories on jobs I’ve been to on placement
  • And some other random happy stuff

In the meantime, I would like to draw your attention to a few interesting YouTube videos, on the benefits of hands-only CPR – I’ll be talking about this in more detail later this week, but have a watch, and please let me know what you think.

The British version:

And the American version:

Oh, and if you’re on Twitter – please follow me…you get inane ramblings from me when I’m in lectures or on placement, and random retweets, mostly health related! I try to keep everything roughly on subject…

So a while ago, I talked about a few of the things that annoy me – believe me, that was just a small toe dipped into the great ocean of things that annoy me, but that can wait for another time.

However, I did mention about both eating your five fruit and veg a day, and also about people who complain about not losing weight, but yet have made no changes to either their diet or their exercise regime. This came about from a discussion I was having with my brother quite a while ago, about some of the people who worked at his office. We came up with a fantastic diet plan, known as the Eat Less, Move More Plan – two easy steps. First, you eat less. Second, you move more. Simples. Or to expand ever so slightly, if you eat less than you currently eat, but are exercising more, you are going to burn more calories than you are eating – thus, the weight is lost. There are other minor details, but I believe that should work for most people.

The other thing about healthy eating that really gets to me is when I’m standing in line for the checkout at a well-known mainstream supermarket (*cough* Tescos *cough*), and I look around me and see the amount of pre-processed, pre-packaged, artificial food that people are piling into their trolleys. Particularly when I strive to have a nice healthy trolley, full of lots of fruit and vegetables, and lots of stuff that isn’t processed, that isn’t artificial, and isn’t stuffed full of salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners or other chemicals. Now, I have no problem whatsoever with the occasional guilty treat, but it should be just that – occasional. What is even more annoying is that my trolley load of, as I put it, healthy crap, will cost about twice as much as the trolley load of processed s**t, but will go out of date sooner, or go bad sooner. Even so, I still don’t have much of a problem with other mature, informed adults pumping that stuff into their body. Where I have the problem is when I see parents with children, and they have a trolley load of pre-processed stuff – so much for teaching your kids to eat healthy eh? And you can see the effect it is having on children – they are already obese due to an overload of sweets and junk food, and not enough fresh air and exercise. Do people not realise the harm that their bad habits are having on their children??

Ah well, their choice. Me, I’ll choose to eat healthily, even it costs slightly more, if it means I get to live a bit longer and without any major diseases, thank you very much. And I’ll also keep exercising like mad, mainly because I enjoy it, slightly because I want to look, but also so I’m going to be able to run around for ages like a mad maniac with my kids (whenever they happen to come along).

So, someone I follow on Twitter, and whose blog I can highly recommend, posted a while back about a Radio 1 Newsbeat article suggesting that nightclubs should have paramedics “in-house”. Read the original article here.

Now, I agree with this in principle, but in practice, the ambulance services in the UK are struggling to find enough paramedics as it is, and really, what paramedic is going to want to give up their time to be treated like crap by drunk punters in a loud and noisy nightclub, potentially for quite a bit less than they could earn by doing an overtime shift? I do, however, agree with schemes such as the SOS Bus Project in Norwich. This is a fantastic scheme that provides a central assistance and first aid service, voluntarily, in Norwich city centres on busy nights. Having had a quick flicky through their website, their initial funding information makes interesting reading. The number of different private and local public organisations that donated money to set up the project is fantastic. This ties in with a comment on the original blog post – that football clubs have to contribute to policing costs…so why shouldn’t nightclubs contribute to both police and medical costs??

As a final note, I’d like to draw your attention to a fantastic organisation – BASICS. Check out their website, and check out the website of an amazing BASICS doc!

Things that annoy me…

Posted: July 9, 2011 in Personal, Rants
Tags: , , , ,

You know what – there are LOTS of things that annoy me, but these are just a few…

  • People who either don’t pull over for emergency vehicles, or worse, the people who decide to pull out and follow the ambulance or whatever past all the rest of the pulled in cars.
  • People who claim that “eating healthily is hard” or that “it’s too expensive”. WHAT. A. LOAD. OF. CRAP. This article shows that eating your five fruit and veg can come to less than 50p (yeah, I know it’s the Mirror, but hey…ooh, hang on, better article – oh wait, it’s the Daily Fail…tits.)
  • People who whine about how much they hate their job, or how much they want to do this or that other job – just suck it up, apply and get the hell out of the job you don’t want to do. It’s what I did, and yeah, it can be hard, but surely having a decent work life so you enjoy the rest of your time is better?
  • People who complain that they’re trying to lose weight but it’s not working…it’s not hard – you eat less, and move more (I should really market this as a diet plan…stay tuned!)
And I’m sure there’s more, so the list will get longer as I think about them…

Is it just me, or is our damn stupid British weather changing a lot more frequently? One moment, bright sunshine and the next, lashing rain…

We must be the only country in the world that suffers from a weather system with Attention Deficit Disorder… (credit must go to the Now Show on BBC Radio 4 for that one!)

Ok, so I’m blatantly nicking an idea from another blog I follow religiously, here (so Kal, please don’t kill me!), but I have days off at random times during the week at the moment due to being on a 24/7 rota, and so need things to fill my time. I already kill myself at the gym trying to get fit, slim, and toned (I wish…), but I also love my photography!

So in that vein, I want your ideas of things you want me to take photos off around Nottingham – anything novel, strange, interesting, or anything at all – surprise me, let me know, and challenge me! Let me know your ideas in the comments section!

Guys (and gals) – check out this bunch…they are a pair of doctors, who met at medical school and started recording parody songs, check out some of them below!  Read the rest of this entry »