Thursday, 21 June 2012

Guest Post- 3am

If you haven't heard me raving on about Ella from @DiagnosisLOB then where have you been?

Her blog www.tryingmypatients.com is fast becoming my favourite read, a great insight into what our emergency services go through each day.


Read on and don't forget to leave a comment.



3am

"18 year old male, fall from height, cardiac arrest"

I had been driving for the best part of 8 hours on the wrong side of the road. Not because the traffic was busy and I was on lights, because I was driving back home from Europe after an impromptu few days away. The kicker, was that I had a night shift to get back to. I got home at about 4pm, quick shower, ironed uniform and off I went for my 6pm start. In all honesty the prospect of a 12 hour night shift filled me with nothing but dread, but what's a girl to do! Things started just as expected and just as they always do. A job straight away quickly followed by job after job after job after job. It was a typical Friday night, all alcohol or drug related, just a thoroughly exhausting evening. For those of you who have worked night shifts you will know exactly what I mean by 'the 3am lull'. Eyes are heavy, an overwhelming sense of fatigue engulfs you and the thought of another three hours, three patients, three lots of paperwork makes you feel physically sick. Your handwriting is getting worse and worse, your mood is becoming more and more fragile and your patience is well and truly gone! You spend 15 minutes at hospital eating sweets, drinking coffee and doing anything you can just to stay awake. It really is a horrible experience and if you can go through life avoiding 'the 3am lull' then do!

Well, it was 03:11, the rain was pelting against the windscreen, it was dark and cold. We pressed the button knowing full well we'd get a job straight away and headed out of the hospital. If anything will wake you up, this job will. These job still give the adrenaline rush, the pumping heart and the excitement. Two miles, that was all. That was how far we had to travel. I lit up the roof, turned on the bells and off we went. There was still plenty of traffic about and with the torrential rain filling the roads it was a nervy drive. Visibility was terrible, road marking and signs were invisible and all you could see was the headlights and break lights of cars. I have never seen rain like it to this day. We pulled off the main road into some kind of alley way. 0.1 miles to go, surely we would see something soon! We got a message to say the response car was on scene as we turned a tight left turn. That was the moment that I can see like a freeze frame. No more than 50 feet away was a silhouette of someone doing CPR, lit only by the strobe of the blue lights. The rain was cutting across the view at a 45 degree angle and there was a constant whistle of wind pelting down the alley. We grabbed some kit and ran over.

Lying on the floor was our patient, he was in the gutter of this tiny cobbled street, a crowd was gathering a few feet away and it wasn't a pretty sight. Because of the background noise, there was a lot of shouting to let each other know what we were doing. All we knew was he had fallen, where from we didn't know, apparently he had been breathing about a few minutes before but had now stopped. There was blood everywhere, the guy had landed face first and had massive cranial destruction. It took two of us to vaguely secure his airway but no soon as we had suctioned blood out of his throat more appeared. HEMS arrived within a couple of minutes and took the pressure off. The six of us worked on him for about half an hour, his chest was cut open, his lungs decompressed, drugs were given and I was just watching it all in a rather detached state. I was ventilating him, once the airway was secure it was a case of kneeling there, in a pool of rain and blood just breathing for him. I remember looking and starring at his face. A young guy, good looking, an entire life time ahead of here he was. Lying motionless, dead in the gutter, doctors, paramedics and technicians tirelessly working to save him and I was thinking 'what a waste'. From his head, I could see every injury he had. It would need a miracle to survive the trauma his body had suffered. It was a very disturbing sight and one I still see from time to time.

He was declared dead on scene. There was that moment when the decision has been made, you have all agreed to end the resus, CPR is stopped and you take away the mask. That's it. Until that point there is hope. Until that moment you have the distraction of the situation. Now you are aware of the crowd again which is now 50 strong. They have watched on in the rain in shock. It is most likely the most distressing thing most of them have seen. In many ways I felt like I'd let them down. Stopping a resus is always a bit of a tough moment, doing it in public you can feel all the eyes looking at you as you step away from the body. And that is all it is now. A body. He was covered in the blanket and as we stepped back, all in a daze we found out what had happened. He had fallen from the roof, the roof of this 4 story building. A 70 foot plunge. No one knew what happened. Was it suicide? Was it an accident? Was alcohol or drugs involved? I don't want to think what was going through his mind as he fell. I hope nothing. I hope no one has to suffer that fear of inevitability. A young man with his life ahead of him had lost his life and whatever the cause, it was tragic. We all piled into the ambulance for a debrief. Everyone just sat there feeling thoroughly dejected. The saturated, blood soaked uniforms was a start reminder of what this job can throw at you. One thing was for sure, I was very much wide awake now. Only an hour and a half until the end of the shift. Quick uniform change and time for one more........
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24 comments

  1. You have nothing but my admiration. I cannot even begin to understand how that must of felt. Simply masses of love to you <3 xo

    p.s I find between 4 and 5 am to be the lull time, up till then I'm fine. Night shifts do truly suck at times.

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    1. Thank you very much! See, around 4-4:30 I get my second wind! It's last job time so I tend to snap out of the lull!

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  2. Fantastic blog! I have just spent the last 2 hours trawling through Ella's website! What a find! Thank you for sharing a truly compelling story x

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  3. That was an amazing read. Times like that must be so awful, huge love for all the emergency services xx

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  4. GirlyMathsGeek21 June 2012 at 09:59

    Thank you, what a great, if very tragic, read. It never ceases to amaze me how human beings work to save each other. I read your blog on the mental health patient the other day and it broke my heart too. Thank you for telling us like it is. xxx

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    1. Thank you. I think telling it like it is, is the only way to tell it! x

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  5. I admire everyone that works in the public services without people like you there would be no one to deal with the awful things that can happen. I will be checking your blog regularly. x

    Big up Big Fashionista for sharing some great blogs with us xx

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    1. Glad you liked it, thank you for taking the time to read and comment. And yes....big up to Big Fashionista!

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  6. Huge respect for what you do and how you write about it, off to find your blog and follow. Terrific stuff.

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  7. Wow, what a read. You write with such flair and with total respect for the dead. If only David Cameron could read your comment and see what is happening to the country and the strain being put on the emergency services. "It was a typical Friday night, all alcohol or drug related, just a thoroughly exhausting evening."

    So sad. Thanks for doing what you do. xoxo

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    1. I would love David Cameron to read some of the things i've written about him ;-) In fact, I would love him to come out on a shift with me! Thank you for what you said, I really appreciate it x

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  8. Such a brilliant post, I've been in a similar situation at work but the way you've written it and put it on the context of how fast paced your job can be. Amazing.

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    1. I've never heard my job described as fast paced but it's true. The fact that it is so, makes it easier to forget and move on I suppose. Don't know if that is good or bad :/! Thanks for your comment x

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  9. I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone who has read and left such lovely comments! I'm overwhelmed at the positive feedback on here and on twitter today. It is touching and very humbling indeed. Also an ever bigger thank you to Big Fashionista for letting me guest blog for her! I really am honoured! I was extremely excited although when I told people the response varied from 'what's a blog' to 'Are you banging on about your blog again?'! YES I AM!! Anyhoo, just finished a 14 hour shift where I got vomited on but having read all thee lovely comments I am going to bed with a smile! xx

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  10. Great post.
    I'm at the time you speak of...it's nearly 04.00 and I've just about broken the back of the paperwork.
    Nearly time to get the gloves on again and get hands on with the clients.
    Healthcare nightworkers are mostly unseen and unsung.
    I'll be reading you from now on! :-)

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  11. Wow! I was captivated by your writing from start to finish! The comments here speak volumes for the way that your writing connects and involve your reader. Well done and thank you xxx

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  12. Obsessed with your blog Ella! Such a brilliant read. Thanks for sharing her with us Kellie xx

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