I had a novel experience this weekend: allocating on the South East on a Friday night. “South East” is a rather misleading name because the sector actually covers the whole of the West End and related area but doesn’t cover Bromley and Orpington (the far south east point of London) – those are part of the South West. Confused already? Good. It’s fair to say I haven’t had such a busy night since New Year’s Eve. In the space of about four hours, we had: (in approximate chronological order, though to be perfectly honest it is all a bit mixed up in my head now)
* One “man lying unconscious in the road” who actually turned out to have a life threatening head injury. (And about fifty who were just drunk or asleep.)
* One man hit by a fast moving bus. Would only have needed one ambulance if it were not for the two idiot callers who rang in about the incident giving the COMPLETELY WRONG location.
* One massive fight in a nightclub, requiring three ambulances.
* One massive fight in the street, with seven patients, needing two ambulances.
* (At exactly the same time as the last call, about 2 miles away) A shooting with three patients, requiring three ambulances.
* One BBA where the baby had some problems after birth, needing two ambulances and a midwife.
* One man randomly dropping dead in the street, needing two ambulances.
* One man randomly dropping dead in a community hall, needing two ambulances.
* One great big humungous fight on a fight involving forty people. Fortunately, the “patients” did us all a big favour by running away from the scene as soon as the police turned up, meaning we didn’t have to send any ambulances. Which was good, because we didn’t have any left.
* One fight with two people unconscious right at the wrong end of the sector.
* About twenty rubbish little fights.
* Five hundred bazillion million people who had drunk too much and passed out in the road. A lot of these were dealt with by the Booze Bus – an ambulance dedicated to picking up drunk people and ferrying them to hospital, thus freeing up the “real” ambulances for people who are actually ill – who must have the least enviable job in the whole of the service and deserve everyone’s heartfelt thanks for actively volunteering to deal with impolite drunks and pools of vomit.
* A selection of people inconsiderately having medical emergencies like heart attacks and strokes at the worse possible time. Couldn’t they wait until morning, eh?
I asked the other allocator, who regularly works on the South East, if it was like this EVERY weekend.
“No,” he said. “This is a quiet one. Next weekend it’s payday, so it’ll be much busier. It gets like Beirut out there. You can have five calls in Leicester Square, which all sound the same, but not quite, and when you ring them back the callers are too drunk to speak, so you don’t know if you have one patient or five. The only way you can deal with it is to send an ambulance in, wait till it finds someone, then ring everyone back and ask if they have an ambulance there.”
What a nightmare! And I thought Romford on a Friday night was bad!
I start with my new watch on the East Central desk tomorrow.