He's only 10, and he's jumped out of the window. Only 10 years old, and he's jumped. This litany keeps running around in my head, as I kneel down to assess the young lad at my feet. I can't remember the last time I had to look after someone so young, someone who, even at that tender age, had decided to try and end his life. His parents stand by anxiously, as I take a look.
He doesn't look all that bad. He is lying on his right side, and his eyes are open. He tells me his name when I ask him, and he tells me that his right wrist hurts. I'm not surprised; he has clearly broken it. He says his back hurts a bit, but he can wiggle his toes without any problem.
The main issue we have is that he is in the front garden, and there isn't a whole lot of room for us to work in. Still, we manage to get a scoop stretcher next to his back, and then roll him on to it, with only a modicum of difficulty. And then it's a simple matter of lifting him over the wall and on to the waiting ambulance trolley.
I find out that he has been treated at the local hospital by the psychiatry team fora while. As he doesn't seem too bad, I decide that the local hospital is the best place for him; once the A&E has sorted out his wrist they can get the psychiatrists to look after him, and that's what he needs more than anything else.
I suggest this to the crew, and a look of horror comes over their faces. "But, what about the tree?" they ask. I panic, and look up in confusion, wondering if one is toppling over towards us.
But no. The crew are talking about the new Trauma Tree. Now, when you go to a trauma case, you call up a clinical coordinator in Central Ambulance Control, and they will tell you where to take the patient, based on a tree-like decision tool. And oh the trouble you get into if you don't do as suggested.
I tell the crew that I don't want to go anywhere else, and that I will make the decision, as the senior clinician on scene. They relent, but ask me to make the call, so that they don't get into trouble. Now I'm worried. Will I get into trouble? The crew tell me that all calls that are blue-lighted into hospital are scrutinised. I think quickly: the local hospital is only 3 minutes down the road, and he's not all that badly injured. We can just drive him to the local A&E without blue lights. They agree, sort of, with the proviso that I come with them, so that I can explain why they are bringing a 10 year old who has fallen two stories, without calling it in as a Trauma Call first.
Now, I am all for assistance to the crews when they need it, and wholeheartedly support the idea of a clinical coordinator desk, where crews can call in if the are having difficulties. But the idea of a clinical decision tool that is inflexible, and which has to be used on all trauma patients regardless of what the crews at scene feel, makes me worried. As this was a child, and as paediatric trauma is not well resourced in London, I can only imagine that we would have been directed to the closest hospital in London with paediatrics and trauma, and that would have been a journey of over 15 miles, and about 30 minutes or more. Worse than that, he would have been far away from his family and the support mechanisms he needed most.
4 weeks ago