This was one of the more unusual duties I have done, mainly because it’s a night shift with almost no chance of coming across someone who is drunk. Instead, I spent the night on the outskirts of town, treating various Scouts who were trying to hike around a twelve-ish mile course, consisting of fields, roads and, if the Scout’s clothes were anything to go by, muddy lakes…
As ever I arrived early to the event, and ended up waiting ages for someone else to turn up. Now this is a bit of an awkward one. If I arrive too early, I end up alone, and knowing my luck, treating, without anyone else around to back me up. If I cut it too fine, something goes wrong and I end up being late. This could leave someone else on their own, with nobody else around to back them up. This time I hit the former, though thankfully only had to twiddle my thumbs until the cavalry arrived.
The beginning of the event was, well, uneventful. No patients, and I forgot to bring anything to do. This is a recipe for getting completely bored. The first patient (brought to us by the ambulance crew, with next to no hand over, I might add) was a boy who hadn’t really dressed properly for the event, and got himself cold and generally uncomfortable. After administering a hot drink and a blanket, we sent him back to his friends, his tent and his sleeping bag.
Just as our pizza arrived, an incident broke out in the middle of a field. There was a bit of confusion at first over what was happening, leading me to take a slightly scary walk in the pitch black to find out what was going on. Eventually it was decided that my partner would head out to support the other team, and I would return to the post accompanied by a pizza, a torch, and myself.
Being on my own doesn’t bother me too much (I have a post about this up my sleeve), not when there is support just around the corner if I need it. However, sometimes I get a casualty that makes my heart race.
I got a call in for a patient with breathing difficulties. There is a reason that the ambulance services consider these calls to be Cat A. Sometimes these are nothing more than a panic attack, but sometimes this is a major asthma attack, or something worse.
The patient was a mile out, far nearer to me than the other post. This gave me no choice: I had to leave the post unmanned and respond.
A pair of scout leaders drove me down to the team, and, after a bit of a hike to get around a really irritatingly placed fence, I met the scouts by the side of a road. It was clear that this girl was having some difficulty with her breathing, but didn’t seem extremely distressed.
Getting a history, it turned out that she had been diagnosed with cancer about two years ago. After a couple of rounds of chemotherapy, she was given the all clear no more than six months ago. She had done no real training since.
I had a little worry when we helped her back to the car. However, as soon as we got her sat down and warmed up a little, she immediately began to improve, and my initial snap decision to call an ambulance shifted to transport to my post and observe.
My best guess (as I’m not qualified to actually diagnose) is that this was a case of exhaustion (understandable, under the circumstances) exacerbated by a mild panic attack. After a period of observation in the First Aid post, I was happy that she was okay to return to her friends. Considering what she had been through over the past year, and the lack of training, she had done amazingly well, and she was keen to get back to things, so, after making sure everyone was happy, we let her go.
Arriving back at the post, I found all hell had broken loose. It appeared a bunch of casualties had arrived, fortunately after the other team had returned, and I had caused a bit of worry because I was nowhere to be seen. The last that they had heard was that I was responding to a patient with breathing difficulties, and they were worried that I was still stuck with them.
Once I had resolved this minor worry, I was set to take a look at someone with a sore leg. This was a previous injury exacerbated by the walk. He also wanted to do the Ten Tors challenge not long after, something that I strongly advised him against. I think he understood my reasons, something that I find rather rare in this sort of circumstances, and I can only hope that he will be sensible.
Finally I had a bit of an unusual patient. I was asked to go and have a chat with one of the scouts who was acting a little strangely. He had been brought back early because he had been scared of the dark, and had sat very quietly on his own ever since.
After having a little chat with him, and with his supervising adult, I discovered that he had both a history that explained the fear, and was very fond of energy drinks. His behaviour and his attitude when we spoke matched what I would expect from someone coming down from a caffeine and sugar high, and after satisfying myself that the scout leader was working on the problem, and telling the lad that if he wanted to have a chat he could come and grab me, I left him to wait for his friends. Hopefully, when back in the company of people he knew and got on with, he would brighten up, and in time, get over his fear.