Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Hello Down There!!

Something a bit different today:

I am on my Rounds in the hospital when my 'phone buzzes in my pocket, I excuse myself from the patient and his family, and answer the "Unknown Caller". Surprise, surprise, it is Control. Can I attend a chap who is trapped in a hole? I decide that Rounds will have to go on without me, and I rush into A&E to see if anyone wants to join me on my trip.

Beardy jumps up, as usual, then looks around in dismay at the department devoid of junior docs - they have all gone to teaching, and he is one of the few docs left to man the Shop Floor. Sadly, he gives up the opportunity, and Ginger chases after me, hotly pursued by two nurses - that's a first for him!!

We all bundle into the car and I program the Sat Nav. Ginger, a new Medical Student, is looking rather bemused - he's not quite sure what's going on yet!! Fasten your seatbelt, Ginger, we're going for a ride!

We turn up at the address -it's 2 doors away from Princess RRD's friend, so I know I'm going to be quizzed big-time by her when I get home. I jump out and hand bits of equipment to my rather green- looking passengers.

The scene is a simple one; builders putting up extension, man digging deep hole for foundation, walls of hole collapse while he is in it, man trapped by clay up to mid-thigh.

First difficulty - none of my passengers have ppe (personal protective equipment), so none of them are going to be coming anywhere near this hole. They don't look happy about this, and go and sulk in the back of a fire truck to keep warm.

Second difficulty - there is very little access to Johnny, the man in the hole. There is a large piece of hardboard that he has been using to shore up the sides - rather unsuccessfully, as it happens - in front of him, and a fence behind him. He is well and truly stuck. Fortunately, he is standing upright, and is fully conscious. Unfortunately, the clay is beginning to set.

You may at this stage be wondering why I had been called. Well, to be honest, so am I. I know that there are dangers associated with crush injury, especially when the blood supply to a limb is cut off. Toxins build up in the affected limb, then, when the pressure is released and the blood is able to flow again the toxins rush around the body, and can cause circulatory collapse. It might happen, but I am unconvinced. Still, if I complain about not being called when I am needed (which I do on a regular basis) I can hardly complain when I am called.

So, I stand around for an hour or so while Johnny digs himself out. Yes, you heard that correctly. There was no room for anyone else down the hole, so the fire crew lower empty buckets down to johnny, who fills the buckets up with lumps of clay that he has dug out with his bare hands. There really is no other way we can help him, despite the three hundred and fifty seven different suggestions offered by the attending fire crew.

Eventually, he has removed enough clay from around his legs to be free. He is lifted out of the hole, placed on a spinal board, and carried out of the area, to the waiting ambulance. I remember my three passengers, and they join me on the back of the rig, as I cut up his trouser legs, and find cold legs, with no injuries.

"You've got away without any injury," I tell Johnny. He asks me about his shoulder, and I see a hugely deformed fractured collar bone. "This hurts a bit," he says. I think about how he has been able to dig himself out of a hole with a fractured collar bone, and decide that he's a braver man than I will ever be.


  1. Fractured collar bone? Very painful, yes. A brave man, indeed.

  2. Tut tut. Who let them out of the department without PPE... nice to see ye weren't really needed. And well done to Jonny for digging himself out with # collar bone!
    Nice to have regular blogging from you, I appreciate you can't blog if you're not doing the calls... unless you just make up stories... Keep 'em coming!

  3. Thank you for your comments, Jak. Yep, I really shouldn't have let them out without PPE, but, as usual, I was in rather a hurry, and, while I usually have some extra ppe, I don't have three sets...

    I can assure you, while I change some details, all the calls are based on real jobs - my imagination is really not that good.

    Finally, the number of calls is so variable. It depends on so many things, but mainly on whether I am high profile or low profile in the Control Room...

  4. Hello RRD.
    I've read your blog from start to finish and thoroughly enjoy it so thank you, and keep up the good work. I find it very infomarmative and very interesting. I have great respect for BASICS and fear a lot of people may forget that it is all done voluntarily and free by good people like yourself.
    I just have a few questions if you dont mind.

    When you are called to a shout while you are at work, do you have some kind of local agreement with your trust to release you from normal duties to attend these calls, as well as other members of staff?

    Are you provided with a ambulance rapid response car by your local service, or are you asked to modify your own car with livery and lights?
    And what kind of training did you have to attend to be able to use blue lights?

    Many thanks in advance!

  5. Hi Harry

    Thank you for your comments. In answer to your questions:

    I do not have any agreement with my Trust, and have to be a liitle bit careful. What I usually do is, if I have been out for an hour, I will work an extra hour that evening. In that way I stop anyone from making any comments about my absence.

    Usually the BASICS docs drive in their own cars, modified with blue lights and sirens. I have been very lucky, in that a private sponsor donated a vehicle to me about three years ago, otherwise I would have been driving a 'G' reg Mazda 323.

    We all have specialised blue-light training, in order to be safe.

    Hope you continue to enjoy reading the blog

  6. I saw this job in the local paper! Sadly, you didn't get a mention, but at least my deductions about where your patch is were reinforced a bit :-)

  7. Hi Max! So, my mask of anonymity is slipping (thinks: must get new mask from Masks 'R' Us!!)