Not Nice Jobs Part 1
One and a half hours into my shift yesterday; we've just cleared at hospital from a job and are free to stop off at the local supermarket for munchies (it goes with the territory when you're on the road for up to 12 hours). I'm just about to pay for my daily intake of carbohydrate/protein and fat cleverly disguised as a Kingsize MarsBar, and the radio bleeps into life. I leave my colleague to pay for the goods while I return to the vehicle to get the details of the job and to book us as 'mobile' to the scene.
I look at the details that have been passed to me from Control: a Purple call to an address where a woman has just found her husband hanging by rope from the loft door. One minute has passed since I was busily foraging in the supermarket, wondering which little choocy delights I was going to invest my hard earned money in and now we are gunning through the streets, lights flashing and horns blaring to somewhere where some people are definately NOT having a good day.
We arrive at scene quickly, even though the Sat Nav has tried to direct us to a street around the corner. We are met at the door by two uniformed policemen, the address is being treated as a possible crime scene until proven otherwise.
I ask a detective where the (ex) patient is, he points up some narrow stairs.
There is something about trauma that takes a bit of getting used to. It's the fact the you see the human body in positions and locations, with injuries that are totally alien to most people's perceptions of injury. An adult male swinging from a length of blue rope tied around his neck, suspended from the floor is a good example.
It's time to put my best Ambulance Technician head on, and time to leave my human head back in the ambulance for re-tuning later.
Being careful not to disturb any possible evidence I attach the limb leads from the ECG to the wrists and ankles of the patient. His limbs are cold, cyanosed and stiff. He's been hanging for some time. The trace on the ECG shows no electrical activity within the heart at all, it's called asytole. I watch the screen for more than thirty seconds and see that there is no change, I print off a hard copy for the records. My colleague busily fills in the 'Recognition of Life Extinct' form, a bit of paperwork that is given to the police to inform them that we have diagnosed death in the home.
Not wanting to make any mistakes where someone's life is concerned I go through a mental checklist to satisfy myself that the patient has indeed expired.
I open his eyes to look at the pupils. Yes, they are fixed and dilated.
I try to move his arms. Yes, they are stiff with the onset of rigormortis.
I look at his ankles. Yes, they are swollen where the blood has pooled at the body's lowest point.
I am now happy that the patient is now officially a body. We hand our paperwork to the police and leave the scene. Carefully.
As we climb back onto the ambulance I glance down the street and catch a glimpse of a woman crying, being comforted by some people and a WPC. I try not to think about the bad day she is having and the bad days that are to follow.
I inform Control that the job is now in the capable hands of the police and that we are now clear. Control very thoughtfully stand us down for the next hour, and tell us to return to base for a cup of tea. We inform them that we are both fine and are more than willing to continue the shift already - we've only been working for two and abit hours.
Ten minutes later, I am sat in front of the telly in the Mess Room, Kingsize MarsBar in hand. The telly is on and tuned into a children's cartoon channel. Sat in the room are a dozen ambulancemen, all eyes transfixed to the screen. Cartoon therapy for us all.
Amongst the living I also start to feel alive again.