After complaining in my last post about the numerous calls we get to “man lying in the road”, what did I happen to find on my way to work yesterday? Yes, that’s right, a man lying in the road. Flat on his face, outside the tube station, in a pool of what looked like urine, a man in his 40s wearing ordinary clothes and carrying a rucksack full of books.
I pretended I was in some kind of first aid training exercise and did the whole routine. Check for danger (no knife wielding maniacs or runaway steamrollers in vicinity… good), check for response (unlike in any first aid exercise I have ever done, the response was “mnurgh”, whatever question I asked or instruction I gave), do secondary survey to determine if patient has anything horrible like a broken leg or a medical bracelet on (nothing apparent).
A gaggle of bystanders appeared, apparently encouraged by the fact I’d started prodding the patient. I was very glad that I was wearing a long coat which concealed my greens, otherwise they might have had me down as a competent professional or something.
“What shall we do?” said one passerby. “Is he drunk or is he sick?”
“WHAT’S WRONG?” I asked.
“DO YOU NEED AN AMBULANCE?”
“DO YOU WANT US TO CALL SOMEONE?”
I knew there was a good chance of the patient just being drunk, although I couldn’t smell any alcohol on him, and thought that maybe he’d had a fit or a diabetic problem or something horrible like that, and anyway, as the other passerby said, even if he was just drunk, we couldn’t just leave him there because he would freeze to death, and as he wasn’t able to speak except for “mnurgh” we weren’t going to have any luck getting a friend or relative to come and look after him either.
So very reluctantly, I pulled out my mobile and became that person who calls 999 for the “man lying in the road”. This felt like a training exercise too, and I could have parroted off exactly what the call taker said to me. I was tempted to add, “and by the way, this is Mark Myers from the North East Desk. I am due in at 7pm so if you make this one a priority I won’t be late!” but I didn’t. I didn’t say who I was at all because in my experience there is nothing worse than taking a 999 call from a fellow professional and reeling off instructions that you already know they know, but you have to say because you will get marked down otherwise. It makes you feel like a right tit.
I spent the next five minutes monitoring the patient like I tell callers to do every day. It felt rather odd being on the other side of the fence and I must have done too many first aid scenarios with St John because I was totally convinced he was going to stop breathing or have a fit or something dramatic, which of course he didn’t.
NEE NAW NEE NAW! The FRU came steaming along the road (beating ORCON by three minutes, I was pleased to note. There I was, bolstering the North East’s stats before I was even in work). Of course, those blue lights and nee naw sirens worked a miracle that my repeated efforts had failed to. My patient raised his head and made an abortive attempt to get up.
“He was completely out of it when we got here!” I said apologetically, imagining the FRU paramedic with a little thought bubble coming out of his head saying “Oh great, another pisshead. Nothing wrong with him at all. Call this a Cat A?” I rearranged my coat, praying he wouldn’t see that beneath it, I was wearing an LAS uniform just like his.
“What’s your name?” said FRU Paramedic to the patient.
“My name is Sergei. I am Russian!” said the patient and then fell over again.
“Well, thanks for your help!” said the FRU Paramedic to us, and that was my cue to leave. I shuffled off to work feeling very sheepish, but you will be glad to know that due to the fast response of the North East desk and Mr FRU Paramedic, I was not even late for work and got there about the same time as Sergei got to the local hospital. I never did find out whether he was just drunk or if there was anything really wrong with him. At least I know that when faced with a “man lying in the road” I do not turn into one of those people who call 999 from a hundred yards away, shout at the call taker, then go on my merry way leaving the patient either to die or recover and walk off so the ambulance crew have to spend an hour searching for him.