Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Hero Next Door!

This actually happened to me recently and it highlighted a few things in paramedic practice, both as a student and for qualified ambulance staff!

I would start by saying it was a normal day, but it wasn't! I was enjoying a rare mid-week lie in! I may be a uni student but I'm the kind that has to be in practically all day, everyday!

So anyway, I was in bed doing uni work when I heard a kerfuffle across the road! Some guy was shouting and seemed to be slightly distressed! I assumed it was normal, we get people shouting outside occasionally! It wasn't until he started shouting something about a fire that I thought 'ooh! Could be exciting!'

I looked out of the window to see plumes of grey smoke pouring out of the windows and doors of the house opposite! I also saw a lady in the window of the first floor, smoke behind her, desperate to get out! I immediately phoned the fire brigade and told them there was also a person trapped inside!

Meanwhile, I was toying with the idea of going out there! After all, I'm only a student and had no equipment so I didn't think there was much I could do!

After seeing the lady get helped down a ladder by a firefighter I eventually plucked up the courage/sense to go out there and help! I got dressed in record speed (can't treat a patient in my PJs, although I've never actually seen anything that says we can't!) and grabbed my jacket on the way out!

When I got outside I explained to a police officer that I was a student paramedic and went and found the patient! I went to the car I'd seen the lady get put into so she was somewhere safe! She was a bit hysterical and in shock (as you would be!) She was alone so I just sat next to her, put my hand on her back to help reassure her, asked her a few questions and talked! This seemed to calm her down a lot! I had nothing on me, I didn't do anything fancy or medical, just communicated with my patient! When the ambulance came I told them about my patient, they did a quick assessment and told me the next ambulance would treat her!

Next ambulance?! I thought there was only one patient! This is when I realised I had made an error! You see, the rule is, when you're first on scene you don't treat any patients, just have a look at how many and how injured they are (triage) I forgot to do that! Having seen most of the action unfold from my bedroom window, seeing one person trapped and the other occupant outside, I thought there would only be one patient! Especially when the other patient seemed most concerned about their dog "coming out like chicken!" Now I knew there wasn't just one! As the ambulance crew were dealing with him I stayed with my lady until the next ambulance crew came and took over!

Looking back, I realise there are things I should or could have done differently! As a student I'm still learning, but I'm not gonna forget the importance of triaging in a hurry!

This also made me think about two other things, helping while off duty and communication! As far as I know, there are no laws that say you have to stop and help! And there are lots of complaints made about health care professionals attitudes and communication! On this occasion I made the decision to go and help and to talk to my patient!
So, your turn, would you have done anything different? If so, why or why not?

Thursday, 6 January 2011


I've been asked a couple of times, and you may or may not be wondering, why 'parameduck'? I didn't just decide that because it sounds similar to paramedic and I like ducks (I'm not obsessed with them, but they are better after seeing an oven!) There is actually a reason!

I can't remember where I first heard the quote but someone once said “Be like a duck. Remain calm on the surface and paddle like hell underneath." Which is kinda what you're doing when you're paramedicing, only not in a duck pond while having bread thrown at you, hopefully!

So what I'm trying to say is, when you turn up on scene and people are there panicking, it's your job to appear chilled out and relaxed and not join in with the panicking ie. be calm on the surface! But underneath that cool, calm exterior you're 'paddling like hell' to change the situation and help the patient!