I've had plenty to write about but have lost the heart to write it in the past year. You know how much we are being crushed under the weight of it all. Too many people need (or think they need) an ambulance and there's far too few of us to help them.
This post isn't about all that and I may just possibly find the impulse to post regularly again next year, we'll see.
I'm posting to say thank you to Sahib Lalli, the police officer who died last week at a young age. My colleagues were unable to save him and I guess that's where our territories divide; greater powers than us decide the outcome, especially for the best of us.
I knew this officer, as I do many of the men and women who work the West End of London. I have spent many hours over the years chatting to the people of the Met and finding out just how human they are... and how vulnerable at times.
Of course, opinions vary when it comes to what we think of our police officers but, as a front line professional, I've needed them and they've needed me on so many occasions that you simply cannot distinguish some of them from your own family.
I was sitting in my response car at the scene of a call. There was an ambulance behind me - the crew was in the back treating the patient, who'd felt faint but hadn't actually passed out. I was on the phone to a fellow paramedic when a man approached me and asked me to wind down my window, which I duly did (although these days I'm a little bit more cautious about doing so).
The following exchange then took place.
Man: "Sorry for interrupting but I pay for the NHS too, so can you tell me why there are so many ambulances parked on this road?" (I should remind you that there were two!)
He went on to ask, "Are you waiting for something?" to which I replied, "We are dealing with an emergency call"
Man: "Are you on stand-by?"
Me: "No sir, we are dealing with a patient. The crew in the ambulance is treating her right now".
Man: "And you are doing what?"
I have to admit I was mildly shocked at this question. I suppose being on the phone and not doing anything relevant to my role must have irked him...
It has been a long time since my last post but my family and career must come first and if anything I write threatens them, I need to temper my emotions; thus less to say of pertinence.
This week I was invited to sit on a panel during a live national television debate on the 'NHS Crisis' and so, after four busy night shifts in a row, I appeared, bleary-eyed, in front of the nation, along with other healthcare professionals and an assortment of politicians, celebrities and members of the public with a story to tell.
The programme, called 'NHS in crisis - the live debate', which you can see here, discussed the failings of our great healthcare system - the strain it is under and the possible causes. It ran for an hour and I sat, for the most part, in the audience, whilst waiting to take my seat in front of the cameras to say my piece.
I watched the audience and I listened to the panels that came before mine and it became clear that there was an awful lot of hatred for the Government and its policies. Fair enough, there is indeed a major problem with the way the NHS is...
I'm very tired after this latest run of four. These nights seem to be getting longer and longer as we are continually hammered from the moment we sign on duty until we make our weak attempts to get home on time.
There is virtually no respite now. Everybody and his dog wants (or thinks they need) an ambulance. I'm spending longer periods at scene with patients - some of them very unwell indeed - because there are not enough ambulances to cover the demand.
And this is going to become a not-so-rare event. I already feel like my time is running out and now a colleague has felt the impact of what is one of the most dangerous enterprises in the country; running at high speed to calls that may or may not be life-threatening (but that are very likely NOT to be) in traffic and conditions that are against you all the way. Some motorists simply don't see us, or acknowledge us any more. Do they think that because we are running around on blue lights so often that we're just going on yet another drunk call? Maybe so. Maybe they're right to be so...
THIS sort of thing says an awful lot about humanity. I'm all for protecting the privacy and security of people's homes. I'm sure nobody wants to have a 'rough sleeper' bedding down on their doorstep every night, and I'm almost certain that most of the outraged people petitioning about this would rather not have a homeless person migrating towards their neighbourhood.
However. Installing measures like this to ensure that people cannot lay down is a wee bit over the top in my opinion. We install very similar protrusions to stop pigeons from landing on window ledges and overhung building entrances. Are we now treating human beings like pests?
Over the course of a decade or so, I have become acquainted with many of London's homeless souls and, apart from the rare exception, drunk or sober - they are just people whose luck has run out. They have nowhere to go and nothing to go to. They depend on charities and pure-hearted volunteers, who often get up at rotten-o'clock in the morning to go and feed them breakfast. That way, they have at least one good meal inside them...
It's not a word used very often, and when it is, the relevance is rarely on point. But, when you are in a group of mates, out for the night and getting loaded on alcohol (because that's the way its done nowadays), and you dump one of your friends because he or she is too drunk - that's abandonment.
I don't mean dropping them somewhere safe and warm to sleep it off; I'm talking about so-called friends who simply leave their drunken mate on a bus, in a taxi... or even worse, on the street. Shockingly, the vast majority of those I've attended in this situation are female. I'd always considered girls to be more protective about their friends, but suddenly at some point in the night, all of the close-knit, protective posturing goes out of the window because one of the group is too drunk to manage any longer. She can't walk to the next club or bar. She is vomiting too much, or she is practically unconscious and a dead weight on the night's proceedings.
A few years ago I was called to a young teenager who was found by a male passer-by in a doorway in the early hours of the...
It has been more than a year since my last post and there have been many changes.
I have changed, my job has changed and the profession has changed. Its simply not what it used to be.
I am reluctant to write in the open and honest way that I used to; there are too many sensitive people out there. It's too easy to offend and bother, either by accident or by being truthful. The design of this blog was deliberate. I set out to let readers know what I experienced and how I experienced it. The result of this, over the years, has been that a number of individuals have become paramedics after reading and following the words I wrote.
A change in my posting methodology is required; I need to write only that which is relevant and neutral while I am professionally bound to one or the other. This is the way of things these days.
The profession is different too. We are answering emergency calls that can, at best, be described as not in the least life-threatening. Insect bites, toilet-tissue incidents and sore thumbs now, apparently, count as worth our lives and the risk of losing...
The last shift of my tour seemed to be nothing more than one alcoholic after another. Individuals with drinking problems that go beyond binging. Emotional and psychological dependence on the stuff is what I'm talking about. This is not the same for me as picking up a gutter-vomiting teenager who needs to be taught when to stop drinking. This tugs on you and reminds you of how vulnerable humans are and where they can end up when things go wrong and they just can't cope with it all.
Before all that, I'd gone through nights and days where aggression and trauma mixed into the scheme of my world so fluently that they became one and the same.
A taxi driver crashed into a lamp-post, flattening it and continued on until he was stopped by a traffic light post, which was bent halfway by the force of the sudden deceleration. We were the second ambulance on scene and it was immediately apparent that it was not safe. The London Fire Brigade (LFB) was called because the engine was still 'live' and there was a spillage of diesel under the cab.
Aww, bless her. She went through a lot of pain and yet allowed me to write this story up. This is Laura and she had an accident.
If you look closely at her right elbow you'll see it's not quite the right shape or size. In fact, she's fractured and dislocated her Humerus so badly that the Radius and Ulna (the lower arm bones) have detached completely and slid upwards and behind the upper arm. This photo was taken by her boyfriend 'Brummy' while she was being treated.
We were called to a 'possible dislocated elbow' and managed to get to the address without being cancelled or diverted (which could easily have happened as it was a very busy night for drunks and they, as always, take priority over broken bones).
When we got into the flat, Laura was on the floor and her boyfriend and three others were around her. There was a bit of giggling going on because alcohol had been imbibed (responsibly in this case) and they were all good mates who thought this was awkward and rather amusing, which it was at times. Although having broken a bone myself, I...
My friend got a delivery of heavy shelving recently. This is where the delivery guy decided to leave it when she didn't answer the door. She was in at the time of the delivery but she just didn't hear him. Her door opens outwards....
Two patients at once after a fight broke out in Covent Garden. Both men had been beaten up quite severely and one had been left unconscious. Both had head injuries but I was more concerned about the man who'd been KO'd than the other one, because, although he had a fractured nose and cheek bone, he was alert, orientated and responding appropriately. The other man began a slow decline from the same state to somewhere relevant to the severity of his injuries.
His skull appeared depressed where he'd been kicked or punched - probably whilst on the ground - and that gave me all I needed to divert him (and his mate) to a Major Trauma Centre (MTC), rather than Accident and Emergency.
We can take serious trauma patients to specific hospitals, where specialist treatment is immediately available. It has to be done with caution, however,...