[Originally written but not posted yesterday]


On Saturday I was prepared. Not wanting to get caught out again, I got all my kit ready, ironed my uniform and got everything ready for my ambulance shift which started back up at 08hrs. I started pottering around the house and everything was going to plan until the pager went off. So I logged off, jumped in the car and headed up to base. As it turns out it was a dog rescue, which we completed quickly enough with the fire service before heading back to base. I headed back home and settled down for the afternoon to clean up the house a bit and watch the rugby. A great game, I was most surprised to be able to watch it all when the phone rang – red call to a gentleman with difficulty breathing. So I headed off across Caerphilly to find this poor gentleman in the later stages of heart failure, with COPD, multiple pulmonary embolisms – he was already very ill, and an illness in the family was not helping. A little confusion and once the crew arrived, a few things became clearer – this was actually a blue call – a scheduled ambulance pick up into hospital. However, it transpires that in the discussions between the doctor and the control room, it had been categorised as a red call – effectively a 999 emergency call. Given his condition, this wasn’t surprising and we were just saying goodbye to the crew when my phone rang.

I’d left my pager at home and this was Les, one of our team members who was coming with me on Sunday to a Scenes of Crime training course at Police HQ. As we were on the phone, he said to me “Get up to base quick then. Gwent police have just called.” So I headed back to the car, handed the shift over to Linda and headed up the A470 sharpish. Straight back to New Tredegar where we’d rescued the dog, this time we had an 11 year old girl with a broken leg. We turned up and once again the fire service were there. After a brief assist, we happily headed home for some food.

I was enjoying the rest of my night and determined to go to bed early when the phone rang. Red call to a patient complaining of chest pains in Penyrheol. We took ages to find it – if you’re anything to do with the layout of roads and names of roads, please think about the poor people trying to find houses in an emergency. Equally, folks, please put your house number clearly on the outside. Anyway, we headed in to find a middle aged chap gripping his chest and groaning with pain every time he breathed. He described the pain as a crushing, gripping pain that spread from his chest to his back and up into his jaw. We couldn’t get a pulse – his arms were so tense from the pain. Linda and I shared a glance and suddenly the chap stopped breathing. He pitched forwards and I threw my hands up to catch him, and as he hit my hands, he drew a breath and carried on. I was worried.

I called control – we had nothing en route to back us up. No RRVs in the area and there wasn’t anything available. I gave them an update and an enormous thanks to the controller for his efforts. He found us an ambulance and gave me an ETA of 30 minutes. He then found me a paramedic in an RRV who turned up very quickly. In the meantime, some more history came out – the gentleman had fallen twice that day, once on his back and once on his front. I considered that his pain was related to the injury for a moment, but even if it was, the pain spreading into his jaw was inconsistent with the injury he described, so we carried on assuming it was cardiac-related. When we finally got the RRV’s ECG out and got a 12-lead readout, his heart looked fine, though because of his pain, it was difficult to tell. A quick shot of morphine and his pain was history. We then had another readout which didn’t concern the paramedic – a good thing. We could finally talk to this chap properly and it transpired that the pain in his back was worst. The crew quickly turned up after that and they took him in to get checked out. Were we right? Well, tough call – the paramedic on the RRV acknowledged that the back and chest pain was most likely related to his injury, but his neck pain was inconsistent. It’s possible he’d had a cardiac incident as well.

We headed home and as I was getting into the house the phone rang again – head injury. Off we went, this time it was an elderly lady. She was on Wharfarin and had a nose bleed – a potentially dangerous condition for someone whose on drugs to stop the blood from clotting. We sat with her until the ambulance came to take her in. I then stood down from my shift and went home to get a much needed 3 hours’ sleep.

The course on Sunday was cracking – very valuable and while it didn’t teach us everything about scenes of crime (or as someone kept saying – signs of cream), it gave us a basic introduction to the concepts. Certainly useful when we come across cases where it’s too dangerous for a SOCO to get to the scene and we have to collect evidence on their behalf. I was home by 17hrs and I lay down for a nap at 18hrs, sleeping most of the way through the night.

Time for a break.

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