Paramedic Science student Oli recounts a particularly memorable call-out on ambulance placement.
There are some patients who will always stick with you, some for good reasons, others for less pleasant ones. This week I had a patient who fitted the first of these descriptions – I won't be forgetting him in a hurry!
Towards the end of our shift, we were sent to a GP urgent call (a low priority call where a GP has visited and deemed that the patient needs to be admitted to hospital, but does not need a blue light response).
The call stated that the ambulance had been requested for an 82-year-old man with 'increasing confusion', and that the hospital had been informed he would be arriving by ambulance.
As you will soon see, we on the ambulance very rarely know all the details by the time we arrive on scene. It's down to us to work out exactly what is going on, and what the ideal treatment path for the patient is, once we have made contact with the patient and the family in person.
When we arrived, we were told by the family the one key piece of information that our control team had not been told on the phone: the patient was under section under the Mental Health Act, due to his dementia reaching a stage where he was a risk to his own safety.
He had walked out of hospital in the morning, got on a bus, and gone back home because he wanted to make sure his wife was being looked after by his family.
The patient's GP had liaised with the ward the patient had gone AWOL from, and both were in agreement that, given the patient's age and his reason for leaving the hospital, an ambulance would be more appropriate for returning him to hospital than the other option – the police.
An interesting conversation
Once the patient was on the back of the ambulance, I asked him if he understood what was going on and why we had been called. The patient stated that we were 'taking [him] back to hospital because everyone [thought he] was mad'. He said this with a smile on his face.
I asked him if he agreed with those that said that, and his response will stick with me for a long time: 'I know I’m mad, it’s great fun!' On the way to hospital, the patient told me about how he'd travelled the world, and about the fun he'd had escaping from hospital!
Once we got to the hospital, we went back to the ward the patient had been on and handed him back to the ward staff, but not before some words were had with him about staying put this time and not trying to run away again – he seemed to agree with me.
As I've said before, it's not always the "big jobs" that stick with you. Sometimes it's the small and relatively simple ones that may stay in your mind for the longest!
Oli studies Paramedic Science at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.