Saturday, April 21, 2007


Of Children and Ambulances

Unusually for a Johnner in the South East, I'm not getting up at some ridiculous time tomorrow morning to get in a minibus and spend my day standing on a street corner in London rubbing strangers with petroleum jelly. Instead I'll be spending the London Marathon in the function room of a pub telling people how great they are for running 26 miles to pay for my salary. Oh, and also for the children of course.

Last weekend however, I was up to my usual tricks and messing about in an ambulance. Technically it was a first aid unit for the day, but it was still a good opportunity to do a full stock-take in time for the marathon and to get me familiarised with the vehicle.
We were covering a rugby tag tournament, which is like rugby but with streamers hanging from your belt, and is a game as far as I can make out designed so that rugby-loving dads can get their sons into the game without their 7-year-olds going into school looking like they've been in a fight.
Dealing with the few injuries we did have [tiny cuts and a suspected broken thumb] I noted two things when filling out the form. Firstly, in response to the question "What happened?" [Box 4 - Problem], each of the little boys started their description of their clearly life-threatening injuries with "I was playing and I got tripped over..." no, they hadn't fallen, without exception they'd been tripped up or pushed over, and this was something they wanted to get across.
Secondly, when filling in the date of birth I discovered they were all born in 1998 or 1999. I can remember what I was doing in 1999, so I suddenly felt incredibly old - when they were newborn I was already shaving.

When I wasn't hearing graphic accounts of injustices on the field or advising mothers that really there was nothing we could do for stinging nettle rashes except maybe advise the child not to run into nettlebeds with no shoes, I was discovering just what we carry on the vehicles. No bodybags, but I did find the paediatrics case. In there were some very scary items
This is an infant size bag and mask resuscitator or BVM. We don't see them on the standard courses, but they're very scary - because if you're using one of these miniature squeezy bags you're dealing with a very small and very sick baby. That bag's about the size of my fist, whilst the regular ones are about the same girth as a 2 litre fizzy drinks bottle. Same story with a #00 OP airway - so small that it's probably deemed unsuitable for children as it would pose an ironic choking hazard. It just suddenly hit me whilst counting oxygen masks that working on vehicles there is a very small chance, but a higher chance than there is with regular first aiding, that I will be put in some quite scary situations with people who may not get better, despite my best efforts. Sobering stuff. Oh, and we're out of Bob the Builder/Disney Princess plasters by the way - standard kit.

On a lighter note, I discovered what the spare fluorescent jacket and ambulance helmet are for. When a small child wants to see inside the ambulance (it happens occasionally, we're not as popular as a fire engine or police car, but in the absence of a 'cool' emergency service, we'll do), they will leave as a very happy customer if you put a ridiculous helmet on their head and an XXL hi-vis jacket on them. I'm definitely using that trick again.

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