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?