Perfect bystanders

Oliver Cubitt

Faculty: Medical Science
Course: BSc (Hons) Paramedic Science
Category: Allied and public health

30 July 2015

“General broadcast, general broadcast. Any crews available to assist with a possible drowning please contact control, Ambulance officer running solo”.

This call came through just as we were about to clear from hospital for our lunch break. On hearing this call, we notified control that we would be happy to attend and they dispatched us to the incident which came through as “man fallen from mobility scooter in to river”.

When we got to the scene we had arrived before the officer and so we picked up all the kit we would need for the job and crossed a bridge over the river to where the patient was laying on the river bank with an off duty nurse and a life guard covering him with a foil blanket to maintain his body temperature as much as possible.

While my crew mates began to assess the patient, I spoke to the onlookers in order to establish exactly what had happened. One man stated that the patient seemed to lose control of his mobility scooter, driving down the river bank before falling off; hitting his head on the water’s edge and ending up in the river where he was face down for 10 seconds, before he had been pulled out by the bystanders. The patient had been breathing since he was back on dry land but was not alert to what was going on initially. When the ambulance officer arrived I gave him a report of what had happened and we began to establish how we would get the patient from the river bank to the back of the ambulance, the simple plan was to enlist the help of the bystanders who were standing around watching us at work. With their help we lifted the patient on our scoop stretcher on to our trolley bed which we then wheeled over the bridge and back on to the ambulance.

This job put my faith back in to the general public, from the concise hand over and help lifting the patient, to the fact that one of them offered to take the patients mobility scooter home and lock it up until he was able to collect it. All this help and general kindness made a real difference, especially when compared to some jobs where bystanders walk past, stare, take photographs and walk away. I would also like to point out that this all occurred during our lunch break window and, unlike what some newspapers would like you to believe; we heard the call and attended. I am sure the same action would be taken by any other ambulance crew in that situation.

I certainly won’t be forgetting that job quickly!

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