Attending ‘proper’ jobs in the Ambulance Service is a little like waiting for a bus. You can do hundreds of silly nonsensical jobs and then, all of a sudden, a few serious ones all come at once.
Having a student with you means ideally you want them to witness, and get involved with, as many different types of patient complaints as possible – especially serious ‘time critical’ patients. But this can be seen as being somewhat sadistic . . . because, in order for you to wish and get these particular jobs, you have to wish someone becomes seriously ill or gets hurt. And that’s a bit sick isn’t it?
Still, this is the human race and there is always going to be someone who might benefit from our services . . . or not.
Joey has been with us for a couple of weeks now and each shift has been packed full of the typical patients that make your eyes glaze over – especially when booze, vomit, piss, shit, spitting, swearing, abuse, violence and patheticness all seem to be at the forefront of reasons why we’ve been called.
But then, suddenly, our buses arrived.
First up was a traumatic cardiac arrest – car vs motorcyclist. We were last on scene to which there were more than enough people to be dealing with it. The patient, lying sprawled on their back was surrounded by medics all in the throws of advanced life support. The car the biker had hit blocked the view from one side whilst two policemen held up an ambulance blanket to shield them from the other side. But still, gathering round the boundary tape was a hoard of public onlookers, all pointing their phone cameras inward toward the scene hoping to get the best shot of the action.
“Is there anything we can do guys, got some spare hands free here . . . you need someone to take over from you?” I spoke my last words to the medic currently performing CPR.
“Yes please, if you could that would be great”
I motioned for Joey to step forward and take over. This was his first CPR on a real person. The others, all sensing this, mucked in and guided him carefully through his actions and helped him do it correctly.
Sadly however, the outcome wasn’t good. The HEMS Doctor called it on scene and after cleaning away kit and rubbish, we all returned to base for a debrief. This was our off job and so, after talking with other crews and the HEMS Doctor we had a cuppa and said our goodbyes for the night.
The next day was met straight away with a young woman in labour. We were second on scene and arrived to find the lady in mid throws of crowning. After saying hello to the crew I mentioned we had a student. They both looked wickedly delighted and beckoned young Joey through.
This time Joey didn’t look so good. It’s one thing to get involved in CPR but to get involved in the joyful mess of a screaming woman, who’s trying to squeeze something not too dissimilar to a Ford Focus out from between their legs is quite another. Still, giving him his due, he got ‘stuck in’ and helped, and before long the patient gave birth to beautiful* baby boy.
This ‘good job’ set the precedence for the day and kept our spirits up.
It’s funny, but when a job comes up on our MDT, we have no idea what it will be. It really is the luck of the draw. Statistically speaking though, it’ll be nothing more than the proverbial ‘pile of shit’ that everyone normally goes to. But, like the buses, it can also be a string of proper jobs, each one testing you to your limit and each one possibly resulting in a patient begging you with their eyes, to do something for them.
You could look at the two jobs above in a slightly philosophical fashion I suppose – as one person dies, another is born. Or, you could look at them in the way I was mentioning above – ie, in order for us to gain experience, someone needs to die or become ill. But regardless of how you look at it, from death to birth, our young student Joey managed to get a subtle glimpse into what this job can really be like sometimes.
More to come.
*No one really believes they are beautiful once first delivered do they?! Lets be honest, they look nothing more than little crumpled purple screaming aliens covered in lard!