Ambulances, Chips & Death

Today whilst at work I took a risk. I lost with almost comical timing.

After calling clear-on-scene I was sent back to base for my break. I hadn’t brought anything for lunch so I was thinking what to do. I could have beans on toast as I always keep a can in my locker for emergencies. I didn’t feel like beans on toast.

I drove back to base not the most direct way, for no other reason than I wanted a change. Driving the same way all the time gets really boring. I drove past a well renowned locally fish & chip shop. I instantly felt like getting some chips,so I did. Just a small portion honest. Naturally I asked for salt & vinegar. Salt & vinegar is one thing I know my girlfriend and I will never ever agree on.

Driving the few minutes back to base I was taking a big risk. If I got a job now I would be screwed. The chips would be basically wasted as you just can’t reheat the fish & chip shop chips in the microwave. Well you can, but If you do they taste awful.

I’d just pulled into base. I get out to open the garage door. As I get back into the car I hear the MDT beeping. *BOLLOCKS* I sharply but quietly shouted. I’d got a job. I could do nothing else but go mobile to the job.

My chips where worryingly close to being binned. I did have a small bit of hope. I could be stood down. Getting stood within a few minutes of getting a job happens quite often when working on the car. It all depends on the final AMPDS coding of the call. But due to response times they need to despatch you as soon as they can knowing they can stand you down if appropriate.

An update on the MDT. “? Dead”. I know it probably shouldn’t amuse me seeing that, but there just is something about seeing it that makes me chuckle. I knew now I wasn’t going to get stood down now. My chips weren’t important now, getting to the job was.

I arrive on scene. The son was downstairs. He directed me upstairs. I made my way to the bedroom where he had found his dad lifeless on the floor when he had popped round as he was passing about 10 minutes prior.. I found pretty much exactly what I had expected. A lifeless, peaceful looking but very pale man sitting on the floor propped up against his bed. Also as I expected he had no pulse, was chilled to the touch with obvious rigor mortis and a asystolic ECG. He had no breath or heart sounds on auscultation, and his pupils where fixed and dilated. He was dead. I pronounced this 85 year old man dead at 1210 today. May he rest in peace.

I confirmed the son’s suspicions that his dad had passed away. I went to take some of my kit back to the car outside and get some paperwork. I told control that I didn’t need a crew in case they had one running to back me up. I went back to talk to the son.

His son gave me some details about his dad. He was quite ill, but independent and did most things himself. He took many tablets and had chronic heart failure. He didn’t have any carers as he wanted to do things himself regardless of what help was being offered. Those close to him knew his days where numbered. However near to death someone is it’s always a horrible gut-wrenching piece of news to be told. I completed the diagnosis of death form. A few years ago he organised and paid for his own funeral. I contacted the funeral directors to inform them of his passing and to arrange them taking him to their chapel of rest. Another member of family arrived and I again told them of my sorrow that he had passed away but there was literally nothing that could be done for him.

I still had to complete the patient report form. When we leave patients at home, including those who have passed away we are now using an electronic patient report form. The laptops we use are the Panasonic CF-19 are they are pretty amazing. It’s just a shame software is at best below-par They are not the quickest or most logical things to complete by far. I made the decision to make my exit and complete it away from the eyes of the family. There would be no value in me completing it at the house. The family and people close to the deceased need to be coming together to comfort each other and grieve. They don’t need a paramedic tapping away on a laptop in the front room.

I got back to the car. I drove off to find somewhere to park up and logon to the laptop. It was a very residential area and I didn’t particularity want to park up in view of someone’s front room. I managed to find a track which led down to a gated entrance to a park type area. It looked pretty out of the eyes of passers by. An ideal spot.

Before arriving on scene I had put my chips in the passenger footwell and turned the climate control to it’s hottest setting and directed the hot air to the footwells. I had also left the car on run-lock which means the car is still running but you can take the keys out. You can’t move the car as taking the handbrake off will cause the engine to stall. This is a very common feature on emergency service vehicles.

I was therefore able to complete the electronic paperwork, make a few phone calls to inform people that this man had died AND eat my chips. I call that multitasking.

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