Red 2 – Chest Pain

When you’re ill you go and see your Doctor.  If your Doctor then says that you need to go to Hospital in an Ambulance you’d be tempted to think it could be serious.

We pick up a lot of patients from GP surgeries.  I too used to think it must be serious.  But sadly, most of the time it is not.  I think with the increase in red-tape and the blame culture – plus the fact that a lot of GPs end up losing touch with pre-hospital emergency care – they end up being a tad over zealous with their A&E referrals.

The annoying thing is, the GP referrals that end up as Ambulance jobs come down to us as Red 2s (Life Threatening).  So, it’s not uncommon for us to race to the surgery only to find the patient stood outside chatting away on their mobile phone and smoking a fag.

Or perhaps this one – that happened the other day . . .

 “Red 2 – Chest Pain (with shortness of breath and clammy)”.  That’s how it came down to us, so that’s how we took it.  We raced to the surgery and managed to get there within the 8 minute ORCON time – that was one tick in the box at least.

So, here we stood, response bags and carry chair in hands, by the entrance of the surgery.  Looking round we slowly scrutinised the people sitting in the waiting room searching for our patient.  We knew they’d be here and not with the doctor – they never were, unless it was really serious . . . and we all knew that never happened!

Scanning the masses there were the typical sorts; mothers bringing their kids in with vomiting or diarrhea, old folk picking up repeat prescriptions, young adults looking for doctors sick notes to skive off work, middle age men with ‘personal problems’ and a plethora of other ill folk – all crammed into one waiting room – all coughing, moaning and groaning.

And then there was our patient . . . we knew it was him.  He sat alone, by the window.  Not by choice, but rather people didn’t want to sit near him . . . at all.  He was stoutly obese with long, messy and greasy black hair.  His t-shirt and tracksuit bottoms looked like they’d been worn for at least six months and the navy blue quilted jacket that clung tightly to his skin was clearly several sizes too small.

We stared at him.

He stared back.

Rocking in his chair he started waving at us smiling ridiculously.

You could smell him from across the room.  Everyone could smell him . . . even I could smell him – and my sense of smell is terrible.

Desperately, I looked across at the receptionist who, recognising my enquiring and panic sticken face, motioned toward the patient and mouthed the words, “Yes, that’s him”.  She then returned to her paperwork, closing any chance of negotiation.

I glanced back at our patient – who was now rocking backwards and forth with two rolled up lengths of tissues sticking out from his nostrils.  His smile had evolved into a deep grunting style of laughter.  Everyone in the surgery was watching us expectantly – much like when you watch someone walking by blissfully unaware of the banana skin they are about to step on.

My shoulders dropped and I let out a deep sigh.  This job had been sent down to us as “Red 2 – Chest Pain” so, as I advanced toward our patient I caught myself muttering under my breath.



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