12 May 2016
Alex continues his account of what his night shift as a paramedic involved on the night of the full moon.
This is part 2 - for earlier in the night see part 1.
Our next job was coincidentally another transfer, this time for a patient in need of a transfusion. It was in a care home just down the road from where we were so we arrived in good time.
As it was a transfer at a Doctor’s request, we took the trolley bed, observation kit and a defibrillator with us, as the patient was in a stable condition. However, when we stepped into the lift we received a radio message from Red Base (LAS Control) that there was a cardiac arrest in the same building that was one minute old. Remarkably it was on the same floor and corridor as our initial transfer patient! I rushed downstairs back to the ambulance to grab every single piece of relative equipment needed including; the lifepack 15, oxygen bag, spare 02 cylinder, Paramedic grab bag, suction unit and plenty of spare gloves! I took the lift back to the second floor, ran past the care home staff that littered the corridor only to walk into the patients’ room to discover it was a Purple++. This means the patient has been deceased for quite some time. The elderly lady had a DNACPR in place (Do Not Attempt Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) and when my colleagues attached the defibrillator pads it was showing as asystole, otherwise known as flat line. We spoke to the care home staff, who were visibly shaken, and they said that this woman’s eldest daughter had visited her just 45 minutes ago and she had ‘fallen asleep’ in her daughter’s arms. That was hard to take in.
The previous two jobs had been quite significant events so this took us to around 04:00, just in time for one more job in the early hours of Saturday morning.
We had ‘greened up’ at base and were dispatched to a block of flats a good 20 minutes blue light drive away, which is quite far in London. On our Mobile Data Terminal it stated a patient was having a psychiatric episode and did not disclose if he was concealing a weapon or not. Due to this possibility the Met Police were in attendance alongside another one of our Fast Response Units (FRU). Upon arrival of the patient’s address, the police were about to gain entry to the property when the patient attempted suicide. He had tried to use a belt to hang himself with, which had snapped once he bared his weight on it, but he then resorted to using a kitchen knife to cut his forearms. Mental health and psychiatric patients are becoming increasingly frequent for the ambulance service; people who are suffering often have nobody else to turn to. This patient took a lot of persuading but eventually agreed to come to hospital with us to be referred to the mental health team there.
So if you can imagine yourself in my shoes and being able to cope with that, I’m sure you will be more than suited to the Paramedic Science course. At university it’s a protected, well-structured approach to learning, however once you are on the road you’re dealing with lots of difficult situations. This is one of the things that attracted me to the role – the uncertainty and nature of the jobs we attend can mean the difference between life and death. And even if we help someone elderly off their bedroom floor at 3am it’s still making a positive impact on a stranger’s life.
Alex studies Paramedic Science at ARU. You can find out if you have what it takes to become a paramedic at one of our Paramedic Science Taster Days.