Posted by: medicblog999 | June 12, 2009

To share the fear!

fear_poster_medI have been going back through the jobs I can remember to pick out some memorable ones to share with you all. I decided on this one first, a job that I remember vividly, one that I will never forget, one that all ambulance staff around the world will be able to relate to…………My first ever emergency call!!

It wasn’t a ‘big job’. It wasn’t even a significant injury or illness, but sitting here at my laptop, I can still recall the anxiety that was going through my body at the time.

Even though I had been a nurse for 5 years, that didn’t help with the actual fear of being out in the community, being responsible for a person and dealing with all the other things that come along with caring for people in the pre-hospital environment. No nicely lit cubicle with the patient at the right height and a doctor standing next to me to make all of the difficult decisions. 

It always used to frustrate me when people assumed that because I had been a nurse before I joined the ambulance service, that I would find this job easy. Its true that I certainly had a head start from some of my classmates when I started my training. My understanding of anatomy and physiology was significantly more advanced than those who came to the class from non medical backgrounds, but it has to be realised that nursing does not make a great  emergency worker or even first aider (unless you work in A&E). It is a completely different set of skills and outlook on how you manage a patient, especially in the trauma situations.

So, I turn up at my first station on my first day, December 25th (yes, Christmas day!) in the year 2000. I get introduced to my partner for the day and I go off and spend nearly and hour checking and rechecking the equipment on the ambulance (I had arrived 45 minutes early). Shortly after I finished the pagers went off and we both walked to the ambulance.

Not knowing what to do, I didn’t even know if I should drive or attend. Mike looks at me and says:

Jump in then, lets see what you can do!”

Mike gets into the drivers seat, which I guess means that I am attending. I look at the terrafix screen, as it beeps and shows me the details of the job.

6yr old female, fall, ? Fractured Ankle

Now, remember, this is my first ever job after completing my technician course. It may not be a biggie, but my god, I was nervous.

I look down at the Patient report form and wonder what information I am meant to put on it. Should I be writing on the way or should I be looking in the map book to help Mike with directions?.

Suddenly I stop everything and look out of the windscreen. A big grin slowly forms on my face as I hear the sirens and see the cars moving to the side of the road as Mike weaves his way through the traffic.


Im finally doing the job I have always wanted to do. This is soooo cool!!

Back to reality

I start thinking about what to do when I get there.

Should I take the entonox in? Do I need to take the oxygen? What about the loxley splint, should I take that in straight away,  or ask Mike to come back out for it?……what if Mike gets angry if i don’t take it in then ask him to come back out for i?t…..If I need the splint, should I come back out and get it, or will I get wrong for leaving the patient with Mike when its my patient? etc etc etc.

We arrive on scene and I exit the ambulance. I open the side door of the ambulance and grab the first response bag. Then I do something that makes me cringe even to this day……I run into the house!!!!!

You never run into a house, even on the bad jobs, you hardly ever run. You walk quickly and with a purpose, but you dont run. For a start, I aint the fittest paramedic on the block. I am not good to anyone if I am out of breath and shaking by the time I get to you.

Mike enters the house a few seconds after me and stands back to allow me to assess the patient, Megan.

There are presents from Santa all over the front room. It appears that Santa had brought Megan a brand new scooter for Christmas and unfortunately Megan wasn’t to good on it when she went outside to try it out. She went off the curb, her right foot slipped off the base of the scooter and she went over on her ankle. Her dad had carried her back into the house and called 999.

Her ankle had some slight swelling around it, but it didn’t look deformed or obviously fractured. 

Should I still put the splint on?, should I see if she can move it first? does she need pain relief? What is Mike thinking? Oh God, what should I do first?

Then salvation…..The best tool for any paramedic to help give a few seconds for thinking without the family realising that you aren’t entirely sure what s going on – the pulse oxymeter!

This is a small piece of equipment that goes on the finger and gives us a pulse and oxygenation reading. It also gives me 10 seconds to think about what I am doing!

I decide to splint the ankle anyway, and look to Mike and say in a slightly sheepish voice

“Err, could you get the loxley splint and the chair please?”

What do you know, he says a cheery OK, and off he goes to get what I need. He soon returns and we package Megan’s leg in the splint and chair her to the vehicle, where I get her comfy and take her and her dad up to the A&E to get an X-ray.

It turned out that it was only a sprain. Really a ‘nothing’ type of job, but still one I remember as if it was only yesterday. Mike was great, I worked with him for the first 2 weeks of my career. He was understanding and was keen to teach me. He always got what I wanted when i asked for it, but he drew the line when I asked for a chair for a patient who had taken an overdose of 20 paracetamol as I had been taught that the less they move, the less the drug is absorbed into the circulation!

It was the start of a wonderful journey which has brought me to where I am now. I always tell new starters this story, I hope it shows them that I havent forgot what its like to be a newbie!

And yes, I still grin like a cheshire cat sometimes when Im cutting through traffic on a lovely summers day, with the window down!

Its the best job in the world!



  1. Brilliant story, thank you!

  2. Wow, I think that my first job was… um… oh yea, a classmate from mine from high school who fell while snowboarding and had a closed head injury. Four seperate subdural bleeds if I recall.

    For years, I had a nasty habit of being clumsy enough to kick every broken leg that I came to fix. I didn’t mean to, I just did because I was awkward. The more bystanders there were watching me, the higher the chance that I would kick the leg. …sigh… Haven’t done it for years, but heck, I probably will today.

    Great post.

  3. my first job was heaven sent… in my previous job i had a particularly unfair, unhelpful and bullying boss. and he’d often pay me late too… so when i turned up at the rta that was my first ever ever job to find that he was the patient… well, you can imagine!

  4. I am already nervous about my first actual call. I’ve done ride-time, but have only had two patients and no real interaction just yet. So, we’ll see! Thanks for sharing, great post. 🙂

  5. […] June 12th about what my first emergency was like, and how it made me feel. That resulted in my post ‘To share the fear’, but it also made me wonder what it was like for all of my blogger friends out there. What followed […]

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