From nose bleeds to knife wounds with Croydon ambulance crews
The sterling work of Croydon's hardworking ambulance crews often goes unnoticed so Hannah Williamson joined the staff on board during a busy Friday night shift...
Unable to stand the sight of even the smallest amount of blood, I wondered whether I really was the best reporter to shadow an ambulance crew on a Friday night.
As I pulled in to south Croydon Ambulance station, I told myself to be brave and hoped I wouldn't embarrass myself, fainting at the sight of the awful injuries they deal with daily on Casualty.
With the sun shining and it being pay day for most, I presumed dehydrated drunks would be taking up most of paramedic's Jackie Quaile and Graeme Wilkie's time.
In 2011/12, alcohol related incidents in Croydon were 5.5 percent of London Ambulance's total workload.
Across London the number of alcohol related calls were down by 3.7 percent, but Croydon was one of eight borough's where alcohol fuelled incidents went up.
So I was surprised when our first call was to an 93-year-old man in Beddington who was unable to move and complaining of hip pain, after a fall at home.
As we headed to the address, Graeme revealed falls involving the elderly are one of the most common incidents dealt with. I had no idea 33 percent of the elderly die within two years of a fall, because of complications to do with the original injury.
The gentleman was in agony and didn't want to leave his home, but after some gentle persuasion he is in the back of the ambulance having some obs done.
Before any patient is taken to hospital a series of tests are done, including taking their temperature, blood pressure, checking their heart rate and when necessary, the administering of pain relief.
Again, this was something I didn't know, I really thought it would be a case of straight into the ambulance and off to the hospital with the flashing lights.
Forty minutes later and we are en-route to Croydon University Hospital (CUH). On arrival there is a short wait before our patient is moved to a bed and his details are given at the desk.
I am impressed by how efficiently the department is run, there is an information screen listing the incoming patients, so the hospital staff know a patient's basic injuries before they have even arrived.
Just over an hour after our first job, we are back on the road off to an assault. The 64-year-old victim has been pushed by his drunk girlfriend and has cut his head.
As it is an assault, the police have arrived too and I get to witness first hand how the two services compliment each other.
Jackie and Graham help convince the victim to give his partner's details to police so they can check on her welfare, before he undergoes some obs and is taken to CUH.
Our next call is to a stabbing, but as we arrive on the scene we learn the 15-year-old victim has been taken to Croydon University Hospital by his parents.
Unbeknown to them, he would have been taken to the major trauma unit at St George's Hospital which cares for patients in need of urgent or specialist care, I later found out he was immediately taken there by another crew.
The range of jobs dealt with that night surprised me. We were called to nose bleeds, toddlers with temperatures, pregnant women in labour and a very severe allergic reaction at a Chinese restaurant.
From a personal point of view the most horrific incident we were called to was a man who had split his lip right down to his chin after falling off a pub table. I had never seen anything like it- but to Jackie and Graeme it was all in a night's work.
The patience and kindness they showed every patient was inspiring, I certainly couldn't do it- so it is back to writing for me.