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How you can help paramedics as a bystander

Oliver Cubitt

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

30 July 2015

How can you be useful to paramedics if you find yourself at the scene of an incident? Oli shares an experience from his ambulance placement where the actions of bystanders made a real difference.

“General broadcast, general broadcast. Any crews available to assist with a possible drowning please contact Control, Ambulance Officer running solo”.

This call came through just as we were about to clear from hospital for our lunch break. On hearing it, we notified Control that we would be happy to attend and they dispatched us to the incident, which came through as “man fallen from mobility scooter into river”.

First aid

When we got to the scene, we had arrived before the Officer, so we picked up all the kit we would need for the job and crossed a bridge over the river.

We found the patient lying on the river bank, where an off-duty nurse and a lifeguard were covering him with a foil blanket to maintain his body temperature as much as possible.

While my crewmates began to assess the patient, I spoke to onlookers in order to establish exactly what had happened.

One man stated that the patient seemed to lose control of his mobility scooter, driving down the river bank before falling off, hitting his head on the water's edge, and ending up in the river, where he was face down for ten seconds before being pulled out by the bystanders.

Extra pairs of hands

The patient had been breathing since he was back on dry land, but was not alert to what was going on initially.

When the ambulance officer arrived, I gave him a report of what had happened and we began to establish how we would get the patient from the river bank to the back of the ambulance.

The simple plan was to enlist the help of the bystanders who were standing around watching us at work. With their help, we lifted the patient onto our scoop stretcher, then onto our trolley bed, which we then wheeled over the bridge and back on to the ambulance.

This job put my faith back into the general public, from the concise handover and help lifting the patient, to the fact that someone offered to take the patient's mobility scooter home and lock it up until he was able to collect it.

All this help and general kindness made a real difference, especially when compared to some jobs where bystanders walk past, stare, take photographs and walk away.

I would also like to point out that this all occurred during our lunch break window and, unlike what some newspapers would like you to believe, we heard the call and attended. I am sure the same action would be taken by any other ambulance crew in that situation.

I certainly won’t be forgetting that job quickly!

Oliver studies Paramedic Science at ARU in Cambridge. Find out more about this and other degree courses at one of our Open Days.



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