The classic attack from an ambulance crew to a woman in normal labour (sometimes out of ear shot, sometimes not) is to gripe that they’ve had nine months to plan for this event – so why are they calling for an ambulance now! The most common retort from the patient is to say that the midwives told them to call for one when their contractions get to a certain duration.
Now, this could be true in some instances but I don’t believe it in most. For when we enter the maternity department of a hospital with our patient in tow – sometimes walking, sometimes in a chair or sometimes on a trolley bed. Sometimes even, in the throws of spitting out a new born baby from between their legs . . . it makes no difference – the look of indignation and abject loathing they get from the midwives is enough to burn permanent holes into their very soul. Its as if in those first few moments they are being dared to explain why they’ve had the audacity to call an ambulance.
So, for a midwife to tell a patient to come in by ambulance seems somewhat obsolete to me.
Yet, patients in normal labour still do this. On a massive scale. And a classic ‘maternataxi’ job is a very simple affair. One that is best illustrated in the way my crew mate, Marvin*, handles it.
Marvin has a very monotone voice in the best of instances. Yet he manages to cover every single base of questioning . . . he is after all a tech 4, with many more years experience than me. When I’m faffing and going to pieces over something as trivial as a cardiac arrest, Marvin is there to gently and calmly steer things in the ‘right’ direction. However, listening to him deal with a maternataxi makes me chuckle. It reminds me somewhat, of Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy and how he deals with people in general . . . the following is an example on how meticulous he is with questioning. Picture the monotone voice and the calm methodical movements of a man who’s done this a million times . . .
We had been called to a thirty something year old woman in labour. On arrival our patient was standing in the living room with a rather large bump bulging from thier dress. The husband looked, as they always do, panicked.
Marvin: Hello my dear, what’s the problem today then?
Patient: I’m having contractions
Marvin: How far gone are you?
Patient: **insert duration here**
Marvin: When are you due?
Patient: **insert date here**
Marvin: Any complications?
Marvin: Waters broken?
Marvin: Any show?
Marvin: Any bleeding at all?
Marvin: How far apart are your contractions?
Patient: **insert time over five minutes here**
Marvin: You have the urge to push or bare down?
Marvin: Is this your first baby?
Marvin: How many others do you have?
Patient: **insert number here**
Marvin: Any other pregnancies?
Marvin: Any medical conditions?
Marvin: Any regular medication?
Marvin: Any allergies to medicines?
Binder: **interrupting on cue and sniggering** Penis all in?
Patient: No! Penicillin!
Binder: . . . er, ok . . . **long pause**
Marvin: Have you phoned the midwives?
Marvin: What did they say?
Patient: **insert excuse here**
Marvin: Got your notes?
Marvin: Got your bags?
Marvin: Set of steak knives? Cuddly toy? Fondue set?
Patient: . . . . ?
Marvin: **turning to husband** You coming with us?
Husband: No. I’m following in the car
Marvin: I thought you might. Come on then, lets go.
And there you have it. Barring the observations performed on the ambulance – job done.
*not his real name of course