You are an important person in the University, a Sabbatical Officer in fact. It’s Freshers’ Week, you were involved in organising it, and you are pretty used to mostly getting your own way. You’re also drunk, and have been issued an AAA Pass (AAA stands for Access All Areas). This already is a bad combination.
I’m trying to treat one of the Freshers’ Crew (who are responsible for looking after the freshers in a specific area of campus accommodation). He’s drunk, needs to sleep it all off, and I’m trying to gather enough information to arrange for him to get home. He’s in his brightly coloured Crew top, so it’s fairly obvious that he’s a crew member, and I’m in my green and yellow hi-vis, so it’s pretty obvious I’m a medic. It’s also very obvious that I’m treating you (or should be, to anyone vaguely sober).
“Is he alright?” You come swaggering up. “Bob? You okay?” (Yes, I know Bob is a very bad fake name!)
“He’ll be fine. Are you his friend?” I reply.
“Mmmwwaaa?” Adds Bob.
“Are you okay Bob?”
“He’ll be fine. He’s just drunk.” I try to get your attention back to me. “Do you know him?”
“He’s one of the crew members. [As if the big words Freshers Crew on his T-Shirt wasn’t obvious enough]. What’s wrong?”
“He’s just drunk. Are you friends?”
“No. No. He’s a crew member.”
I’m definitely getting the idea that you’re drunk now. “Okay, in that case I need you to leave us some room, please go stand over there.” I know there’s no point telling you to go away, but I hope I can send you far enough away that you leave out of boredom. You standing right next to me is hardly good for patient confidentiality, particularly as you strike me the type to want to take photos, and anyway, I’ve always found that drunk + crowd = trouble.
“No, no. That’s okay. I want to make sure he’s okay.”
“Really, he’s going to be fine. We’re just going to get him home, and he’ll sleep it off. All he’ll have is a hangover tomorrow morning. Please, just give us some space.”
“No, no. I want to make sure he’s okay.”
“Look. There’s nothing you can do here. Please, go away, you’re now getting in my way and preventing me from treating him.”
“I’m not going away. I want to make sure he’s okay.”
I’m getting rather irritated now. “Please. Go away. You are not helping, and I will have you removed if I have to.”
“Do you know who I am? [I’m not making this up!] I am a Sabb! I have a triple-A!”
I’m now seething. “Right. And I have two. [I do. One as a First Aider, one as backstage crew.] But that makes no difference. I need you to go. Now, before I call for security.”
“I can go where I like. I’m a Sabb and I have a triple-A.”
“Right.” I’ve had enough. You have now held me up for too many minutes. I might have had Bob on his way home by now, if you hadn’t turned up with your triple-A. I turn my back on you, ensuring I’m standing between you and Bob, and get out my radio. “Control, from 444 over.”
“Yeah, go ahead 444, over”
“Hi Control. Can you send someone from security out to me. I have a Sabb with a pass I need removing, over.”
“Err, say again 444, over.”
“I have a Sabb I need Security to remove for me please, over.”
“Err… All received 444. They’ll be over in a minute, over.”
“Many thanks, 444 standing by.”
You haven’t heard what Control had to say, but what you get the gist from my side. “How dare you! I’m a Sabb! I have a pass! You can’t do this.”
Over your shoulder, I see the head of security (a diminutive Welsh lady best described as a force of nature), and her assistant manager (a bulky man twice her size) heading my way. I nod at you, and they nod back. “I already have.” I turn back to Bob, who should have been the centre of my attention for the last few minutes. Behind me I hear you being removed, and when I chance a look while moving around my patient, I see your AAA go in to one of their pockets. Hopefully that’ll teach you not to but out next time when you are politely asked.
Needless to say, I had a lot of explaining to do once I got back to the First Aid post. I also got an apology from the Sabbs the next day, and even if I hadn’t, the look on your face when you had to hand over your AAA was well worth the aggro.
You’ve volunteered to look after freshers this week, and had a good night out with the house you’ve been allocated. In fact, it was such a good night that they didn’t notice that you didn’t come back from the toilets, and went home without you.
I get called to you twenty minutes after the event closes, while we’re packing up. ‘Patient, unresponsive in toilets.’ Perfect. Grabbing a kit from where it had been put away, I walk swiftly out to find you. I have a bit of confusion when I notice that the route to the toilets is far from obvious, but get to you eventually.
You’re sat on the toilet, your boxers around your ankles, body lying on your knees. When I open the toilet door, which opens towards you, it presses against your head, stopping me getting in. It also stops me lifting your head up to properly assess you.
I bend down to speak in your ear, a far from pleasant prospect considering that this is a chemical toilet block, the floor is covered with vomit, and I don’t think you’ve showered in the last couple of days. Yelling loud enough to make security jump, I try and coax a response out of you. Nothing. Hitting you firmly on the shoulders, in fact very nearly slapping you, I try to reach out to a more basic level of your consciousness. Nope, you are indeed completely unresponsive.
You’re a big lad, and try as I might, I can’t get you sat up, not with the door in the way. With you like this, I can’t open your airway, and I can’t check that you’re breathing. This is a problem. I can’t even slip around the door so that I am in the cubicle with you. I’m just grateful that the door isn’t locked.
I have only one choice. Turning to the biggest member of security I can see, I ask him to break the door down. Indicating which way I need it to come, I stand back, and he takes great pleasure in forcing the door the wrong way. Outside I can see campus security eyeing up the door. They’ll be getting your name, assuming you are sensible enough to give it, and I hope you get sent the bill.
The crash of the door seems enough to wake you up, though you aren’t impressed. Twice you try to swat me away, but you’re moving so slow I can easily dodge. Besides, you don’t seem to be seeing straight, and only stay upright while I hold you. You are definitely in no fit state to go home tonight, and I’m not happy loading you on to the vomit comet for the easy ride to A&E (the vomit comet is an SU run minibus that takes all our minor injuries to hospital, saving on ambulances).
Up comes the local ambulance service, the crew not impressed that they’re having to pick up a drunk. I don’t blame them. I have no sympathy for you either, but we all know that it’s the safest thing to do. The last thing we need is for you to roll over in your sleep, vomit, and then drown in your own stomach contents. Once we’ve got the basic details out of you, we leave you in the care of the ambulance.
You’ll probably get put on fluids, rehydrated, and have no hangover the next day. You may even go for a repeat tomorrow. However, tonight at least you and your liver are safe from further harm. Perhaps you’ll learn. Can’t say I’m too hopeful…
I am most impressed that Wikipedia has a page on the dreaded Freshers’ Flu.
I would argue one point though: it’s not just caught by freshers. Those of us who work closely with them during Freshers’ Week (tech crew, first aiders, helpers, nobody escapes) are just as susceptible…
Funnily enough, we got through a lot of paracetamol during the week!
For the past week, I have been tech-crewing and first aiding at my University’s Freshers’ Week. The main aim of the week (publicly) is to allow the freshers to get to know each other and get settled in before starting lectures. Unofficially, some freshers, and some of the Freshers Crew that look after them, see this as an opportunity to get as drunk as possible as regularly as possible.
From my point of view, this is a highly enjoyable week of rigging, first aiding and derigging. This year I also got the chance the run the lighting desk for an evening (and had a complete panic when it starting doing things I didn’t ask it to do…), as well as having a go being Assistant Stage Manager (more stressful than I’d like, especially as the main act turned up about an hour after they were supposed to be on stage.)
From a first aid point of view, it’s dealing with drunks, drunks and more drunks. Oh, and the odd assault, but they’re usually drunk as well…
This year we had three people drink themselves into unconsciousness, along with the normal round of alcohol poisonings and other drunken injuries (fractures, possible head injuries, etc.)
As well as Freshers’ Flu, which seems to afflict anyone involved in Freshers’ Week, whether or not they are a fresher, the week successfully screws my sleeping patterns over for a month. This year I caught the Flu early, and seem to have got over it quickly. However, it is currently 0040, and I’m still quite comfortably awake. This is extremely annoying, particularly as my lectures start tomorrow.
On the bright side, it means I can get some posts written, but I have a feeling life (especially the bits of it that occur before 1100) is going to be a bit difficult for a while.