Sunday, 7 June 2009


23:45 - "Hi there, it's Ambulance Control. Can I send you on a job in NearTown?" I'm sitting on the couch, my ribs giving me significant problems (I haven't been to work for 2 weeks, and don't feel it's likely that I will be able to go back next week, either.) I am surprised to get the call, as I have signed my self off from BASICS work at the moment.

You know how, after the event, you think of something really clever that you should have said, but too late? Well, in this case, I SHOULD have said, "I'm sorry, but I am off sick with broken ribs, so I can't attend." What I actually said was, "What's happened?" The nice lady in Control then tells me about this serious accident, where a pedestrian has been hit by a car, gone through the windscreen and is seriously injured!

Mrs RRD is frantically gesticulating to me, shaking her head so hard I thought she might need treatment soon. I am not safe to go: I haven't driven my car for two weeks because of the pain, and I'm certainly not going to be of any use at the scene of a serious accident the way I am now. I decline the call, explaining that I am signed off, and why. Control apologises for contacting me.

And then we sit there, the two of us, wondering what is happening. No-one else is going to NearTown - there just aren't any other BASICS doctors close enough. Was this one of those rare occasions when my presence might have meant the difference between life and death? So we sit, and I contemplate the mistake I have made, the questioning of the despatcher, that has done nothing more than fuel my guilt, for not being there.


  1. You can't do everything. Look at the people you HAVE treated and made their quality of life the best it can be. Don't beat yourself up about it.

  2. Not a mistake Doc, just the right decision!
    There are so many what ifs in this scenario, it's not even worth considering them all. You are not fit for work....full stop!
    I know I wouldn't have been too chuffed if I had been on scene and had to take my concentration off the patient because I was concerned about the BASICS doc who appeared to be in pain and have breathing difficulties whilst trying to assess the patient (if you got there safely at all!)
    Another way to think is this. You turn up, you exacerbate your injury and you need longer off work than planned, therefore more patients are deprived of your skills in the long run.
    It really is a no brainer.... Right choice!

  3. I clearly didn't explain myself very well. The mistake wasn't not going. Rather, the mistake was asking for more details; feeding the voyeuristic side of me, and ending up causing unnecessary upset to both me and Mrs RRD. There was never any doubt that I would turn down the job...

  4. You'd have probably ended up with a lot of what ifs if you hadn't asked, it was always going to be a lose-lose situation. Try not to beat yourself up about it. :)