Sunday, October 28, 2007


Examining the Evidence

It had been a while since I'd last been to the under 18's discotheque, and yet I was inexorably drawn back to the noise, late night, swearing, drunk-fest, and so once again found myself sitting in the club's sweaty little first aid room with the cardboard wall backing onto the ladies' toilets.
It wasn't long before we had our first customer.

Found in the queue outside looking distinctly unwell & unsteady, the bouncers' verdict was brief: 'drunk'. We thought this was a distinct possibility, and asked our patient about whether she had been drinking. She insisted she hadn't, but unfortunately this is exactly what underage drinkers tell you when they have been drinking. Repeated questioning is usually the only way to get them to admit it, and then start to tell you how much they have drunk, when , and whether they may have put anything else into their body which might cause them to be disorientated, shouty, tearful and unable to stand up. By the time her mother turned up, we were fairly sure [and her mother was insistent] that she hadn't been drinking alcohol but was quite unwell, and needing being tucked up in bed. All this is a rather dull anecdote about not assuming the obvious explanation is the correct one, apart from the contents of her handbag.

Club security like searches at these events, at the request of the licensing authority there was even a police search team at the club entrance with metal detectors. As soon as our first casualty had been sat down, her large handbag was subject to close scrutiny:
"There's something in this bag!" said one of the club's staff
"What is it?"
"Don't know, it's... wet. Eurgh."
"I, um... felt a bit, er... sick in the queue," piped up a little voice from behind them
"Eurgh! Yuk! No! Eurgh!"
Oh how we laughed. Well, we laughed, the club staff developed an obsession with alcohol hand gel for the rest of the night.

Next up was a very tipsy fifteen year-old, who went through the usual routine of denying having drunk alcohol, progressing to 'a little bit' to alternating between 'half a glass of wine' and 'half a bottle of wine' Obviously she was sick, fortunately in a bag we'd thoughtfully provided her with. What I want to know though is on what planet did it recently become acceptable for fifteen year old girls to go out dressed in a 'sexy nurse' outfit consisting of a short striped dress, apron, and white fishnet stockings with white high heels. An accompanying friend was a 'sexy police officer' with suspenders, furry handcuffs and a top which bore the number 69 on each of the epaulets. I may be old-fashioned and not fully up to speed on the latest thinking on letting people express their sexuality in whatever way they choose, regardless of their age, it must be a generational thing. What I could see in front of me though was an unwell, scared child dressed as an adult man's sexual fantasy. It was actually quite unsettling, and is now putting me in mind of London to Brighton, an excellent film which I recommend , although it does contain some very unpleasant subject matter.A girl found unconscious in the toilets in a pool of vomit with a large bump to her temple was confused, drowsy, and sent to hospital in an ambulance without delay. Too many symptoms with too many possible causes meant we weren't going to wait to see whether she improved.

And so to the final attraction of the evening. Injuries consistent with blows to the head, an allegation of assault and parents wanting to press charges. But who had been assaulted?

Was it my first casualty?
Or my second?
I'll leave you to make your own mind up about who is most likely to be the victim. My challenge was to put my suspicions and opinions to one side and examine the injuries of both in exactly the same way, and complete a fastidiously accurate PRF using only what I was told, and what I could see.
If I'm very unlucky and the assault case goes to court, either side may want to see my records. Hopefully they'll be detailed enough to not require my presence to explain them. That would Not Be Fun.

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