Tuesday, 1 February 2011


She's 65. She's in a bad way. She's lying on the floor, moaning incoherently, with blood from her left ear, and her left eye swollen shut. Her arm is bent at a funny angle as well, but that's not bothering me now. What's more concerning is her head injury. I look at the car: the windscreen has been hit hard from the outside, and is now mostly in the car, on the passenger side. Thank goodness there was only the driver in the car, when it hit the lady as she crossed the road, iPod headphones bought for her by her granddaughter for christmas drowning out any extraneous noises.

The HEMS crew arrive shortly after me. They are in the car, it being night-time (oh, and it's raining - again!!!). I confer briefly with the HEMS doc, who is happy for me to run this one, and happy to take the patient for me to St Mary's Hospital. I am on call for my own hospital tonight, so can't be going on any road trips...

I call for assistance to stabilise the patient: scissors to cut up each trouser leg and across each sleeve, a cannula in the uninjured arm, blood pressure and other vital signs.

She's a bit more awake now, calling out, and asking for her mother. She's very confused and agitated, so will still need tubing before transfer.

The HEMS team do things a bit differently from me. They set everything out very neatly and ordered, whereas I have a tendency to unzip my bag and turn it upside down. And then there's the checklist. Before I tube a patient, I have a look around and make sure I can see the bits I might need. The HEMS crew have a laminated sheet, with a list of equipment, drugs and personnel, which is called out, much like the checklist before flying an airplane.

Please don't get me wrong: I agree in principle with the idea of a checklist, but it's just not me.

I call out the items on the list, and receive a "Check!" from the paramedic assisting me. I take a breath in, inject the drugs and insert the laryngoscope. Easy view! The tube goes in, we secure the tube, and the patient is wheeled into the back of the ambulance. 5 minutes later, the ambulance is off, with the HEMS doctor inside.

I look around at the mess that is left: discarded packets, gauze, blood from her head wound, and the tuff-cut scissors I used to cut the patient's trousers. I look around - no more ambulance crew here. I feel strangely deflated, giving over the patient to the HEMS crew and not being able to complete the job through to the hospital.

But at least I've gained a pair of scissors.


  1. Every cloud has a silver lining. I know how you feel RRD - it is frustrating to deal with a patient on scene, hand over to a crew and then never find out the outcome!!!

  2. Scissors is a good steal, but when you take a pen from a paramedic? That's a trophy and a half.

  3. Please!! Steal is such an emotive term. I just felt these scissors would be best placed in my pocket, instead of in a bin somewhere.

    A pen???!!! Never!! Sacrilege!!

  4. I relocated a pair of tuffcuts from an EMICs (East mids version of basics) Dr once. I guess you are merely rebalancing the ying and the yang.

  5. Relocating equipment is perfectly fine and healthy. For example you reallocate my tuff cuts, I nick your propaq! Job done :)

  6. Well, you got me worried. I've just gone out to my car to check to make sure my Propaq was still there.

  7. I thought scissors were now one use items?
    Or at least they will be come April 1st ;)

  8. Brings back memories of the old Green Cross Code ad's I watched as a child. Stop, Look, Listen - and she would have been of that era too?

    With technology and miniaturisation, it's all too frequent to see the public walking along in a world of their own.

    'In the olden days'... as my three like to suggest to my wife and I... we would have had to carry about a 5kg music box and wear headphones that looked like small baked bean tins strapped to our ears, so at least the motorist could see that we were likely to be deaf (and have strong upper arms too)?

    Its all change now and the motorist must not only act with greater caution regarding other drivers, but also towards those that step out in front of them with no cares in the world.

    Tip: Look right, look left and then look right again and once it's all clear....

    PS. Wish I could get cast-off's from my industry....a wedge of crisp £20's will do! I'm not greedy y'know. OK, so £50's would last longer....