The Control Manager finally gets his hands on that bloody ECP.
Anyone who works for an ambulance service will know that there is very much an “us and them” attitude between Control and road crews. On a bad day, crews think Control are a bunch of idiots who haven’t got a clue what they’re doing and they, in turn, consider us a load of lazy, arrogant sh*ts who’ll do whatever we can to get out of doing a ‘job’. Of course we’re really all part of the same team, with the aim of making sure that when Aunt Nelly dials 999 she gets a qualified paramedic or EMT turning up in a reasonable time. Sadly, the other day was another case of communication breakdown.
Throughout the shift I attended a ‘severe difficulty in breathing’ which turned out to be a panic attack. A patient “fitting” who actually just felt unwell in the supermarket so the staff had dialed 999 (according to the caller no one mentioned fitting). There was a young person with “chest pain”. Well that was true enough, they did have chest pain, but only because they’d been coughing a lot; a bit like the person with ‘difficulty in breathing’ who had a cold; fair enough, if your nose is bunged up it’s likely you’ll have trouble in breathing.
There’s also that little annoying habit the dispatchers have of not passing on helpful information. Like when I and a crew turned up at an address:
“Ah, you found our red house alright then?”
“Actually no, not really, we’ve been traipsing up and down the street for 5 minutes.”
“Well I told that nice lady on the phone that we’re the only red house in the road.”
She’s wasn’t wrong there; it stood out a mile. Shame no one in Control actually thought to pass on that useful bit of information to either me or the crew.
By the end of the shift I was getting a little bit peeved by all these apparent mis-diagnosed jobs.
Doesn’t anybody up there (in Control) ask the caller what’s actually wrong with patient?
So, on my way back to station the bat phone rang (again).
“Red call, allergic reaction. Would you be OK to advise?”
“No, I’d like to have a vehicle running just in case it’s anaphylaxis”
“Hold on, I’ll check with call taker to see what’s going on.”
After a pause. “It’s OK the patient just has a rash.”
Now that sounds like a nice easy call, just dish out some Piriton – job done. “Are we treating this as an ECP visit then, or a ‘C’ cat call?”
“No, it’s been coded as a ‘B’ so go on blue lights please.”
“Strikes me they don’t know what’s going on.”
I pitched up at the address to find a man semi-conscious on the floor; face all swollen; covered in a rash; vomiting and crying out that he couldn’t see, “My vision’s gone all blurred.”
Anaphylaxis all right. I called up for an immediate ambulance whilst I readied some adrenaline. By the time the crew arrived he’d had 1 mg of 1 in 1000 adrenaline I.M (intra-muscular) and he was looking (and feeling) decidedly better.
After we’d got him settled on the bus I asked the gentleman who dialed 999 what he’d told the caller taker. “That he had an all over body rash with blisters. That he couldn’t see, that he was vomiting and that his face had blown up like a balloon.”
Right – so that’s just a rash then!
This is just the sort of experience that drives a wedge between us and them.