I’ve been waiting all night. Waiting for a job where a patient actually needs my skills. I’m on that job now, yet I’m still waiting.
I was miffed when the job leapt out of the Mobile Data Terminal. How dare a 38 year old consider himself breathless just as the movie reaches a good bit. That’s the luck of solo responding on a Single Responder Vehicle. One minute parked up looking seedy in a dubious location the next tearing around to god knows what dilemma.
I’ll be totally honest though when the MDT sparks up with “38 year old male struggling for breath and anxious” my first thought is Bull Shit! Man up and get a grip. When I enter the house it’s me that has to man up and get a grip.
I’m confronted with “Dave” he’s lathered in sweat, ashen grey and quite frankly breathing out of his arse hole. Speaking of arse holes it’s at this point mine begins to twitch. My 5 second appraisal need go no further and I bang in a “Signal 1 – No Divert” this is an SRU’s way of saying my patient is in shit order and I not only need help quickly I need him hospital right now.
So I’m waiting.
Dave has a lung disease and on 15Ltrs of oxygen his saturation levels are 64%. His heart rate is 155 bpm, he’s breathing 54 times a minute 16 – 20 would suffice you or I and his other obs are similarly unpleasing to my eye. It’s ok though Dave, because an ambulance will soon have you in hospital. They’ll be able to do far more for you there than I can with Salbutamol and Ipratropium Bromide.
Dave has two kids and a wife
I’m still waiting.
Dave is dying before my eyes. It’s impossible for his body to keep up this level of exertion for much longer. Eventually the muscles that expand and contract his rib cage will be so tired that they will no longer be able to work. He’ll go in to respiratory arrest and that will be shortly followed by cardiac arrest.
I’m still waiting.
40 minutes after arriving on scene I am informed that there aren’t any vehicles available to back me up.
Dave is 38 he has a wife and two kids and he’s dying in front of me, there’s nothing more I can do. At the 50 minute point I’m still polite with dispatch but I’m sure I’m now sounding a little more terse. I feel like asking for anything, non emerge car, maybe a minibus from a taxi firm! At this point I don’t care what, I just need something.
Nothing comes so I’m still waiting.
I know we don’t have an endless pool of resources but it’s now over an hour since Dave’s wife made the call. Surely to god in the whole of my region something somewhere must have come clear because I can guarantee drunks and idiots are still getting vehicles.
At 1 hour 30 minutes I’m still waiting but I’m told there is a crew 8 minutes away. They arrive 20 minutes later. Dave by now is gasping his last. He is so exhausted that his body can no longer maintain his respiratory efforts and it won’t be long until he stops breathing totally. He’s loaded in to the ambulance as fast as we can and the crew take him away. I keep my fingers crossed for him, he’s going to need all the help he can get.
The ambulance service will report this as a success. After all Dave got an emergency response to his door within 15 minutes. Its just a shame we couldn’t get him to hospital in another 15.
This isn’t an unusual situation caused by a sudden unexpected rise in demand for our services. It’s the norm for SRU’s and its making me sick.
I’m on another job I’ve asked for an ambulance and guess what…
….. I’m still waiting.