The Ambiguous “Red 2”

The very first job we went to yesterday was a cardiac arrest.

It came down as Red 2, “fainting” with a post scriptum stating “patient making gurgling sounds”.  That was enough to set off some warning bells at least.

So, we quickly arrived, and along with an FRU, another ambulance crew and a , we spent the next hour dragging an old gentleman back from the proverbial “light”.  Continue reading

Physician Response Unit.  We have this in East London where an advanced A&E Doctor goes out with an advanced paramenace in one of the HEMS cars.  They are there as a sort of “nomad GP” if you like.  But with lots of other skills and toys to bring to the ‘party’.  Amongst them is the “auto-pulse” which is an automatic CPR machine.  So, having these guys turn up at a cardiac arrest can significantly improve outcomes. 


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 . . . Continue reading

Motion sickness

“Don’t you end up always feeling sick in the back of these things?”

My patient asked this whilst sat on the edge of their seat trying to peak through into the front driver’s area so as to focus on the road ahead.  And not be sick.

I stopped writing and thought about it for a moment.  Still staring at my document I realised I wasn’t sick.  Not even close.  Not any more.  I’d even managed to subconsciously compensate for the erratic movements the new service vehicles provide . . . Continue reading

Good old fashioned luck

If someone is to survive a cardiac arrest then certain interventions need to happen as quickly as possible.  The two main procedures in this instance are early CPR and defibrillation.  Of course, actually being able to get to your patient in the first place is probably just as important . . .

We were just helping our patient move across to the hospital bed at the .  He was fully alert and had been talking with us all the way to hospital.  As he hopped across, his face winced and he clutched at his ribs.

“Oh-oh-ouch!  My chest really hurts” Continue reading

 The London Chest Hospital is a Cath Lab.  A specific hospital specialising in cardiology.  Some hospitals have Cath Labs attached to them.  Either way, if our patients are confirmed having a heart attack or we are able to get them back from a cardiac arrest and they are still presenting with a heart attack then this is where we take them.  Even if we have to pass several hospitals en route to get there this is where we go – as this is where their best chances of survival lie. 

And then there are bus drivers

One thing I have learnt whilst being in the Ambulance Service is the way that different public groups are generally compartmentalised into different categories.  For example, The LFB are generally viewed with a sort of wary and suspicious respect by both the LAS and the Police.  The feeling, I’m sure, is mutual . . . albeit, I’m pretty sure the LFB look down on us with nothing more than pity and mirth.

London black cabbies are viewed with disdain and mistrust – especially with the predictable fashion in which they always put their arm out their window to wave you on, like they are masterfully controlling the traffic . . . and like we weren’t about to do that any way!  And all this after they’ve “surfed the blue wave”, using your emergency call to gain as much distance in front of other drivers as possible before ‘allowing’ you to pass.

And then there are bus drivers . . . Continue reading

“Drive! . . . Get us out of here, now!”

We were sat in the ambulance on the edge of the main road.  I’d just pressed the green button on our MDT which meant we were now available for our next job.  It was then that I noticed something happening further up ahead.

I didn’t catch on to what it was at first.  It was as if I was in a day dream, blissfully unaware of the events unfurling in front of me.  I seemed to stare but just not register.  My brain didn’t take on the fact that a large group of passer-bys were closing slowly in round one man – all pointing, staring and smiling at him.  And as I sat watching this one man, my eyes glazed phlegmatically over, my brain just failed to click into gear that he was stood in the middle of the road.  Dancing.  Wildly.  Wearing a grey three piece suit from his waste up.  Naked from his waste down. Continue reading