This job happened just the other day. The exact nature of the patients condition isn’t important, this post is all about the environment and the fun that we had on this job!!
Called to a large block of flats for “persons stuck in lift”. Fire Brigade were already on scene trying to get them out of the lift. About half way there, Ian (my partner for the day) and I were stood down and sent to a different emergency in the same vicinity. This time to a gentleman suffering from breathing difficulties, again in a block of flats.
Lets pretend his number was 52.
We get on scene and press the buzzer to open the gates into the secure parking area outside of the flats. No answer. A man approaches the ambulance from the other side of the gate and mentions that there has been a power cut in the area and the electric gates cannot be opened.
M999: What about the intercom to the building? Are we going to be able to get in?
Man: The intercom is down but all of the main building doors automatically unlock in the event of a fire or a power cut
Champion, we can still gain entry to the flats.
We decide to take our kit up with us along with our carry chair as if the patient has breathing difficulties, then we know that we will be using the chair to get him to the lifts and then onto the ambulance. After all, we dont want to make him any worse by letting him walk and get more short of breath than he already is.
As we enter the flats,the concierge meets us and asks what flat we are after.
Concierge: You know that the lifts are off right?
Doh!!!!. Give yourself 10 points if that had already entered your head before this point. In all honesty, I hadn’t considered the possibility of the lifts not working
M999: “Great! Oh well,shouldn’t be too bad. 52 must be on the fifth floor right?”
Concierge: ” Errr, no……Its on the 15th floor”
The thought of carrying anyone, no matter how small and thin down, 15 flights of stairs (which actually turned out to be 28 flights of stairs) did not really fill me with a sense of excitement. For those who know me, I am not exactly built for endurance events!
We set off. Ian, an ex military man who runs to work every day, is happily chatting away as we make our way up the stairs. I, on the other hand am cursing the fact that I am so unfit that I am starting to break out into a sweat by the 4th floor! By the 12 floor, we make the decision that maybe Ian should ask the questions when we get into the flat as I need to concentrate on breathing for a while.
We enter the flat and assess the patient. Its obvious that he needs to go into hospital but is fairly stable at this present time, so thoughts change as to how we are going to get him down to the ambulance.
Ian then comes up with a great idea;
Ian: ” Ill get on the radio to control and request a vehicle with a stryker chair on it “
A quick bit of background is needed here. In our service we use two different chairs to get patients from their homes to the ambulance. The first one, which is on all vehicles is a manual carry chair:
It takes two people to physically lift it down stairs. It is obviously very physical to use and always carries a risk of causing a back injury if not used correctly or just through the sheer strain of carrying a heavy patient on it. To try and reduce the risk to staff in our service, our management decided to replace them with a new type of chair which actually takes some of the work away from us when moving a patient from their home.
This one is known as the Stryker Chair:
As you can see, it has tracks on the back which when engaged, actually take the weight of the chair and the patient and lower them down the stairs with the two staff just guiding it down the stairs. No lifting is involved.
Its a wonderful piece of kit, but only in the right conditions. The main limitations we have found is that it does not work in some of the tight and twisting stairs that we find in alot of properties in our area and it is very heavy just by itself and does take some strength to carry it into the job.
In this situation though, with 28 flights of stairs to go down, it will work perfectly. The message goes into control and they inform us that they will dispatch a vehicle with the Stryker chair on (not all vehicles have been equipped with them yet) to assist us with the patient.
We both stop and look at each other
“Oooh, there not going to be happy when they get here!”
The stryker chair is going to be great for getting the patient back down to the vehicle, BUT, they have to carry it up 28 flights of stairs first!!!
We share a slight nervous giggle and hope that the crew that comes will see the humorous side of the situation and will be grateful of the opportunity to assist a fellow crew and a patient in need of medical attention (Or rather, wont blow up when they arrive at the flat and then call us all the names under the sun).
Within 10 minutes we get a birds eye view of the vehicle threading its way through the traffic to come and help us. We both strain to try and see which crew is in the vehicle so that we can prepare ourselves for the possible/probable reaction when they eventually knock on the door!
10 minutes pass and I decide to venture out of the flat and go into the stair well to see if they are on their way up. I nervously giggle as I hear the clumping of boots coming up the stairs, made all the more louder by the echoing of the stair well. I can easily hear the puffing and panting and the occasionally swear word float upwards to meet me!
I dash back into the flat and tell Ian that its going to be any minute now. Whilst we have been waiting, we have been chatting on to the patient and his friend and we let them know the plan and also that we may get a reaction from the crew when they arrive in the flat. I think he was more looking forward to seeing their faces than we were.
The door to the flat opens and Gary walks in first, flushed, sweating, trying to catch his breath. He puts the stryker chair onto the ground in front of us and just stares with a look of disbelief on his face. His partner Tom follows in behind, fairing a little better but still out of breath.
M999 “Alright lads??”
Silence and stares……
I then think it would be a great time to pretend to hand the patient over to them and then make as if to leave the patient with them so that they can take him downstairs. That didn’t go down too well either!
Anyway, we got him on the chair and Ian and I pushed him down all 28 flights of stairs and moved him onto the vehicle. Still hard work but a hell of alot better than having to physically carry him!
Oh, how we all laughed afterwards!!!!!