Can we poke him with sticks?!

I was back home from a day shift and was eating some dinner.  Every mouthful however, was tainted by a distinct malodour that lingered stubbornly in the back of my nostrils and seemed hell bent on contaminating every lung full of air that I breathed.

This delightful fragrance was a bit like the smell that comes from a bin, whereby the fermented contents have broken through the liner and spilled all over the bottom – a long time ago.  And also a bit like rotting meat.

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10 things that could probably be approached in a better way

Here are some things that you wish you would never had said – or wish were never said by someone else – or perhaps should never be said by anyone in this line of work

1)  When taking a [tippy title=”BM” URL=””] A terminology used for measuring someone’s blood sugar count in their blood.  Usually done for Diabetics but in the emergency services, done to . . . . um, anyone really.  Very useful for diagnosing certain problems – like Hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar – indicative of an Insulin Dependant Diabetic) . . . or ruling out diabetic problems with someone who is suffering a CVA.  All we need is a drop of blood from the tip of their finger. [/tippy] from a patient.

Technician:     You’re just going to feel a little prick


2)  When trying to explain to a female patient how to use [tippy title=”Entenox” URL=””] “Gas and Air” This is Nitrous Oxide mixed 50/50 with oxygen.  Its a very effective pain relieve which is inhaled.  Comes on quick and stops working quick so useful in the emergency setting . . . people react to it in vastly different ways! [/tippy].

Technician:     Right, put this in your mouth and suck on it


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I am training in South London at the moment.  It’s the last part of my course to become a fully fledged Paramenace and we’re currently learning how to deal with certain emergencies – one of them being choking.

I haven’t dealt with a real choker yet – its either been “not as given” or they’ve managed to stop choking by the time we arrive.  The latter still grants us a thank you from the patient and friends to which I often reply, “I’m just doing my job ma’am”.  I haven’t done anything but its nice to claim attention.

However, it did make me think of one incident that happened to a friend of mine, Mel*, a little while back . . .

They were called to a woman in her mid twenties, choking.  Upon arrival at the restaurant it conspires the woman in question ‘believed’ she was choking . . . her breathing rate was elevated and she was agitated.  However she was able to talk in complete sentences and was able to walk unaided to the ambulance.  At the end of each well articulated sentence she suddenly rememberd to concentrate on her agitation and “enhanced breathing rate”.

The medic attending, after doing all their checks and observations, came to the swift conclusion that this was not ‘time critical’ and, after making the patient comfortable on the bed proceeded with questions.

“So, you’ve got something stuck in your throat?”
“Yes” (puff puff, pant pant)
“Are you sure?”
“Yes” (puff puff, pant pant)
“YES!” (puff puff, pant pant)
“Do you have any medical problems?”
“No” (puff puff, pant pant)
“Are you taking any regular medication?”
“No” (puff puff, pant pant)
“Are you allergic to any medicines?”
“Penicillin” (puff puff, pant pant)
“What?” (puff puff, pant pant)
“Yes, Penicillin” (puff puff, pant pant)
“What?!” (puff puff, pant pant)
“You need to put a strap on.  Over your legs.”

The patient did as they were told and then attempted breathing heavier and faster, motioning to their throat, “I think its getting worse” she said, “I can feel it in my throat, its a large lump of some sort – I can’t breath!!!” she pointed at her throat trying to get the medic’s full attention.

The medic, unmoved, stared enigmatically at the patient for a few seconds before turning to Mel, who was sitting in the drivers seat ready to go.

“Ok, ready when you are . . .”  The medic then turned to their paper work, scribbling details and generally using the form as an appropriate excuse not to engage with the patient.  The patient, somewhat perturbed by the disinterest of the medic, upped the ante and started breathing louder and faster, placing their hands on their throat to give the full hint of choking.  They even coughed loudly for effect.

They were in a brand new Mercedes Sprint Ambulance – which is slightly bigger than the older Mercedes Sprint.  And Mel, the driver, hadn’t driven one of the new Ambulances before.  This was a subtle problem that had been casually overlooked by the pair of them when they first started their shift.

Mel cranked the gears and reversed the truck out onto the main road.  Sadly, she missed the road and instead, managed to reverse the truck up and over one of the City’s cast iron bell-shaped bollards.

There was an enormous crash and the effect was sensational.

The patient was flipped out of the bed and onto the ambulance floor landing with a thud.  Their incredulous breathing technique stopped instantly and they sat bolt upright, staring wide eyed toward the back of the ambulance.  The medic, without even looking up from his paperwork, calmly broke the silence.

“Did that dislodge it then?”

The patient was later dismissed from hospital with the conclusion they had suffered a “mild” panic attack.


*this is clearly not her real name