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An emotional return to my Paramedic Science placement

Alex Grant

Faculty: Health, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Allied Health and Social Care
Course: BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
Category: Allied and public health

8 June 2016

A nasty neighbour causing a fall, a man wanting an ambulance for a ring stuck on his finger, a cardiac arrest transfer and a hospital security escort needed for an intoxicated patient kicked off Alex's return to placement.

It’s been a lovely three weeks rest time, I’ve spent time with both my parents in Brighton (Hove actually) and Swansea and it was great to catch up with family. I have just returned from my first shift back and I kicked off placement block two by having an 11-hour day shift on a busy, sunny Saturday in Central London.

A nasty neighbour upsets a cancer patient

The first call of the day was to a man in his 70s who’d suffered a fall and consequently had severe back pain. When we arrived it was rather confusing as to what his complaint was; he stated the pain was severe but didn’t want to go to hospital and refused strong painkillers. We arrived to find him slumped on his sofa with a black cat resting on a cabinet just to the side of him; I couldn’t help but notice that they mimicked each other’s position! After being on scene for a long time the patient said the reason for his fall was due to a nasty neighbour staring at him through his ground floor flat window. He said that he’d fallen out with the neighbour and that he’d been taking things way too far. This patient also revealed he was undergoing palliative care for terminal cancer. This was a depressing start to the shift, however we were able to comfort him and left with him feeling much better.

Why do people request an emergency ambulance?

Our second job came through on our MDT (Mobile Data Terminal) as “Ring stuck on finger for a week”. How people deem these sorts of things urgent enough to require an emergency ambulance response will always baffle me! He was an old gentleman who’d got his nephew to phone 999 as he was in some discomfort. We were met by his nephew who proceeded to give us a difficult time. We do get this now and again, but you learn to deal with it pretty quickly.

We took the patient to hospital and, while we were waiting to do the handover in A&E, the emergency alarm activated with big flashing red lights on the ceiling above us. I didn’t know what was happening at first but I soon realised after seeing all nine nurses sprint into Resus (resuscitation room) that a patient had gone into cardiac arrest. Five minutes later, just as we handed over our patient, I was walking the stretcher out of the ambulance entrance when a technician from a different LAS (London Ambulance Service) crew approached me. It turns out he was part of the crew that had brought in a 53 year old female in for chest pain, who had arrested in the Resus room. He said that he was looking for a paramedic crew to undergo a critical transfer to a Cath Lab as an ECG showed her as suffering an Anterior Lateral Myocardial Infarction (heart attack). We accepted the job and waited for the lady to be intubated and prepped for transfer.

The highlight of my paramedic shift

After the patient’s husband said goodbye to his wife we moved her into our ambulance. Accompanying us on our critical transfer was the Anaesthetic Doctor and ITU (Intensive Care Unit) Nurse. They were there to help maintain all the portable hospital equipment such as the ventilator. Driving with blue lights and sirens on whilst standing in the back with one hand grabbing the handrail and the other holding a syringe filled with live-saving drugs has to be the highlight of my shift!

A threatening patient

As we came to the last job of the day, the emotions of the previous jobs started to flare a little (I remembered when my mother suffered a cardiac arrest – our heart attack patient was of similar age). Our final patient of the shift was an intoxicated male unconscious outside a café. After waking him up and attempting to gain some sort of history, he became aggressive and stormed off. We requested police attendance as we were concerned for his mental state and as we were unable to convince him to let us do our observations. We decided to follow him on foot from a distance to make sure he was safe and he soon proceeded to collapse backwards on a side street with children around him.

After making the scene safe temporarily, we acquired assistance by the Met Police and the patient agreed to get in the ambulance to go to hospital. He continually asked for my name in a drunken state to which I simply replied “Alex”. He demanded to know my surname that I didn’t give him, so he then called me every expletive under the sun and became even more threatening at hospital. Just before handing over to a nurse he said to me “Have you ever been hit?” whilst making eye contact. Treating patients like this is difficult at the best of times, but it’s especially tough after such an emotional shift. You learn how to deal with it though and, in this instance, I decided it was best to ask hospital security to escort him away from the other patients.

Alex studies Paramedic Science at ARU. You can find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.


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