The Nation's Health + Paramedic

Stuck

"53 year old female, passed out in car, drunk"

A big part of this job is thinking on your feet. Annoyingly, people don't tend to get ill or injured in ways and places that the textbooks say they will. You really would be amazed at some of the bizarre places we find people! Be it in the eves of a loft or upside down in a manhole, people manage to defy physics just when they need an ambulance. It's then our job to work out how to get them out! At our disposal we have the fire brigade, the HART team or just sheer numbers. Unfortunately, when you need 6 people, inevitably there is only room for 1! C'est la vie!

We were called by another crew, or part of crew even! They had been on a job and whilst dealing with their patient one of the crew had gone to get the chair. Whilst at the ambulance, he was called over by a member of the public who's wife was stuck in the car. He took one look at her and called for a second crew! When we arrived he greeted us with a wry smile....

"Hi guys, 53 year old female, been drinking heavily, has passed out slipped into the footwell of the back seats and is now stuck and asleep. Oh, and she's covered in vomit. I'd love to stay and help but I've got my own patient!"

With that, he patted me on the back in the most sarcastic of fashions and left faster than Road Runner.

I peered into the car and scratched my head. Let's just say she was a lady with a full figure. Very full indeed. She also wasn't just stuck, she was shoe horned. Oh, and did I mention the car was Nissan Micra...... 3 DOOR! She was properly out of it, massively intoxicated and totally unrouseable. As amusing as the whole situation was, we were aware that airway compromise was something to be aware of. She was stuck on her back and if she vomited we could be in a whole world of trouble!

Right, the plan......erm......we had nothing! I used my tried and tested methods of waking up drunk people but she was having none of it! For those in the know, I had her at GCS 6 (1-15). It was quickly apparent we needed more hands, and ideally hands with better ideas than ours!

Twenty minutes later our second crew arrived, by which time I had a rough idea of what to do!

The Plan: With both seats forward, one of us on the back seat and one wherever they could fit, using brute force, would lift her to sitting, where a spinal board would be slid diagonally under her bum. A bed sheet would be wrapped under her arms and a lifting belt round her waist. Then, with two on the lifting belt and two on the sheet, she would be carefully be slid along the spinal board inch by inch until she was half out the car. At that point the two inside would exit from the other side, and come and assist to lift the board on to the bed. Simple.


'No battle plan survives contact with the enemy' Colin Powell
The Reality: We sat her up, she projectile vomited into my lap, we all grabbed a bit, and dragged her out of the car. I don't think there are enough words to describe just quite how unpleasant the felling of having someone's vomit on your crotch really is.

By the time we got to hospital her eyes were open and she was complaining of not feeling well. I won't be sending her a 'get well soon' card anytime soon! Her decision to drink too much cost £1000 in ambulance resources alone. It took two ambulances away from the public. She caused our ambulance to need a deep clean and me to shower and change my uniform. All in all, the job took 3 hours when all was said and done. Next time you read about ambulance services being criticised for response delays, bear this in mind!

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