Sunday, December 08, 2013

free bar

A woman steps out and waves to us with one of her crutches.
‘Paul’s over there,’ she says. ‘I can’t get him up.’
I play the torch along the street and pick out a huge, snoring form, face down on the grass verge.
‘Did he fall?’
‘No. That’s just where his friends dropped him off.’
‘His friends?’
‘It was a free bar,’ she says. ‘I’ll have to go back inside now. The kids.’

Paul is lying with his face scrunched up on his work bag and open wallet, vomit over everything, his face, his eyes, his clothes. His shirt has ridden up, revealing an expanse of flesh vast as a de-bristled hog. The ripe smell coming off his trousers suggest other, deeper horrors.

I wipe his nose and mouth clear and reposition his head to ease the breathing.
Rae unloads the trolley and brings it over with the scoop. We pause for a second, gauging his weight. Can we lift this guy without a second crew? Because on the way here Control were in meltdown, constantly putting out all-calls for outstanding jobs with no-one to assign. If we ask for back-up, it’ll take a while.
‘What do you think?’
‘We could have a go.’
‘Come on then.’
Rae takes the foot end, I get the top.
‘Ready, set... lift.’
It’s only from the ground to the trolley, but Paul is at the very limit of what we should be lifting. In the few seconds it takes to get him over, I have a vision of all my vertebral disks popping out of my back, shooting up in the air and exploding like a line of clay pigeons.

On to the vehicle, and Paul resists painful stimuli to the point where I try putting an airway in. But he reaches up and pulls it out again, so his GCS isn’t as low as I’d thought. I take his obs en route. Halfway there he pulls off the oxygen mask and hawks up a wad of half-digested food.
‘Don’t spit!’ I tell him.
He ignores me and carries on.

* * *

The hospital has been besieged by drunks and bad trippers all night, and the staff have a crumpled, antsy kind of look.
‘You’ve just had too much to drink’ says a doctor, leaning over a young girl whimpering on a trolley. ‘You shouldn’t be taking up a hospital bed.’
We get nods from the other crews as we wheel Paul in to the department, appreciating all the nuances of size, age, smell, mess.
‘Good god!’ says the triage nurse, coming over. ‘What the hell have you brought me now?’
‘It was a free bar,’ I tell her.


Terri S said...

It makes me so angry that so many people now seem to treat getting so drunk they end up in a & e as ok.

My teenage son wants to eventually train as a paramedic which I think is fantastic but I dread to think how many drunks he'll end up picking up!!

Spence Kennedy said...

Hi Terri

Well - quite a few, I should think! But it's just another part of the job description - the less glamorous side, it has to be said. Very frustrating that we get so many of these calls. Maybe there are things that could be done to dampen down the number. In the meantime, it's still a good job. I think your son will like it, drunks et al!

jacksofbuxton said...

It's a shame there isn't a space that you could take the drunks and frequent flyers to.It'd be great if it could be staffed by the Doctor from The Cannonball Run as well.

Spence Kennedy said...

We could definitely do with an alternative venue. I think a chief constable made a suggestion along those lines earlier in the year. Somewhere we could drop them off (somewhere they'd be billed for their stay). I can foresee troubles with that plan, though, but it's nice to dream...

I have to admit I haven't seen Cannonball Run. I'm imagining the Doctor is kind of sleazy / wrong somehow...? (Will look him up on YouTube later).

jacksofbuxton said...

If you can ignore the ad first Spence.

Spence Kennedy said...

Jack Elam! I remember that face from Once upon a time in the west (and approx a thousand other films).