Paramedic Science student Oli recounts a Saturday night of extremes out on ambulance placement.
There really is no such thing as a normal call in this job! On my latest night shift, I experienced both the loveliest patient I have met this year, and one patient who was less than lovely.
The positive experience
The first patient was a 100-year-old woman who had had a fall in her kitchen and sustained a deep injury to her wrist, which was bleeding heavily. We dressed the wound and completed a set of observations.
Throughout our assessment, the patient was chatting away and joking with the crew. Although she was embarrassed about having to call us out, she seemed happily surprised when three “handsome young ambulance men” turned up on her doorstep to look after her!
This lady was more independent than many of the 70-year-olds I have been to in this job – she does all her own cooking and cleaning and has no carers, and she also still drives her car for short local journeys.
We took her to hospital as we were unable to stop the bleeding, so the wound would require minor surgery. She thanked us all individually, and we left with a smile on our faces after having a patient we genuinely enjoyed meeting and talking with on the journey.
The negative experience
Then the tone of the evening changed with a call-out to a 27-year-old woman who was on the floor outside a bar having fallen over, and was reported to have hit her head. This lady was clearly intoxicated, and lashed out at my mentor and I when we tried to assess her.
While we attempted to deal with the patient, our crewmate stood back and kept an eye on the situation, as there were many intoxicated bystanders who were getting irate and verbally abusive, to both the patient and ourselves. The patient stood herself up and began to fight with a bystander, but was separated from them by the bar's security staff.
At this point, we requested police assistance, for our own safety more than anything else. The first thing you are taught in this line of work is to check for danger in a global overview: if there is risk to the crew, then you need to look after your own safety first. No one wants the ambulance crew to become additional casualties. With the police en route, we stepped back and let the security staff break up the fight.
Once the police arrived, the patient became slightly more co-operative and agreed to come onto the ambulance, where we established that she did have the capacity to consent to or decline treatment. As she declined any assessment, we could not force her to go against her will.
At this point, the patient stood up from the stretcher bed and again was verbally abusive and hit out at me. The police responded to this and forcefully removed her from the ambulance and sent her on her way.
As I said, there is no such thing as routine call. They are all an experience of sorts, and I have definitely learned the importance of keeping an eye on bystanders in this sort of situation and making sure my crewmates are safe as well.
While some calls are less pleasant than others, I still love the variety this job brings, you never know what you are going to get next!
Oli studies Paramedic Science at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.