You Can’t Make It Up

There are some stories that you just can’t make up.

This week, I was on duty at the UniTown theatre. This time it was a show I wanted to watch, which is almost as bad as using the q word.

My partner and my house-mate sit down, and the music starts. Almost immediately, we are approached by a member of theatre of staff.

“You’re needed downstairs.”

Brilliant. We have brought a kit and an AED to the theatre, and grab the kit as we head in the direction we are pointed. Sure enough, we find an old woman sitting on a chair, looking unwell, accompanied by her daughter.

Daughter tells us that she was complaining that her chest hurt, she is having a little difficulty breathing and is feeling tired. I have a quick look at our patient. She is old and rather a bit overweight, so there is a good chance this is the serious kind of chest pain.

Our patient refuses to answer most of my questions chosen to confirm this, becoming very snappy when I try to get a history. My house-mate wasn’t able to get her pulse, and she wouldn’t stop talking long enough to get her breathing rate.

Then comes the comment from our patient that I can’t believe:

“I’m probably just having another heart attack.”

!

My house-mate gives me a look that makes it clear she’s just taken a mental double-take. It is a challenge for me to stop my jaw from dropping. Our patient’s tone had been so matter-of-fact, she might as well have been talking about the weather. There was none of the panic normally associated with a heart attack. None of the ‘impending sense of doom’ we joke about in training sessions. I didn’t think anyone could be so blasé about the real possibility of a potentially fatal condition.

Oh yeah, and she refuses to take aspirin and won’t tell me why… It just get’s better.

I skip immediately from ‘trying to work out what’s happening, possibly need an ambulance’ to ‘I want an ambulance yesterday’! I tell Daughter’s son to go grab the bag with our AED in, and the theatre’s duty manager to get me an ambulance.

During my conversation with the ambulance call taker, our patient finally decides to tell me that she’s on Warfarin.  This explains why she doesn’t want to take aspirin. Via me, the call taker tries to overrule this instruction, but we both get ignored.

In no time, the RRV is with us, swiftly followed by the full ambulance. Some oxygen, a GTN spray and an ECG later, and our patient is off.

It takes another hour until my house-mate and I get our heads around what we’ve just seen.

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About The WalkingPlasterDispenser

So who is the Walking Plaster Dispenser? Well, I'm a volunteer First Aider, working with a well-known First Aid charity to help out random people I've never met before (or, more usually, when) they hurt themselves. This typically involves walking briskly (never run...) around after people who are silly enough to do sports or some other suitably daft activity in their free time. In my spare time, I am a graduate engineer, working my way through a graduate scheme with a big engineering company.

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  1. Rough Day « The Walking Plaster Dispenser - February 14, 2011

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