Overtime today. Ive done a lot of overtime this month cos I need the money.
Anyway, off to a village to the south of our patch, its virtually on the border with another county but we cover it. The message we had about the job didn't make for good reading and we both had the feeling that we would be jumping up and down on the old chaps chest before the end of the job.
Elderly, alchoholic, grey in colour, not responding, shallow breathing. Not good.
A responder car and a community responder had beaten us there. We walked in, or tried to because it was only possible to open the door a wedge due to the amount of rubbish in the way.
We walked into a scene that I have seen more often than I think is proper in this country. Dust lay inches thick on ornaments around the room, rotting food lay on the floor, full an half full bottles of alchohol surrounded the old chap in his chair. He was small deshevelled and breathing heavily into the oxygen mask that had been placed on his face. His clothes were of indeterminate colour. Under the chair were plates that were filled with a brown liquid.
The reponder told us that the chaps blood sugar was about 1.3. Normally an adults will run at about 4.5. We couldnt get a blood pressure or a pulse in his wrist. He was very cold. He was very unwell.
The responder was a Paramedic so he was trying to put a needle in his arm so we could give him fluids and sugar.
Talking to the district nurse who had found him we discovered that he hadnt been out of the chair for at least three weeks. Literally he hadn't moved in three weeks.
He needed to be in Hospital. How to get him out? A surprising amount of this job is logistics and we conferenced to try and work out a way.
A carry chair was got (by me) and the others cleared a route from his chair to the ambulance. Now wether we'd disturbed something or what I don't know but the smell hit us.
A chorus of strangled coughs.
The brown liquid in the plates wasn't gravy. He was absolutely covered in something very unpleasant. It had soaked into his clothes and into the chair and dripped onto the floor.
The smell was now overpowering but we needed to get him onto the ambulance. We needed to lift him onto the carrychair. I, feeling charitable, voluteered to lift his legs.
His trousers were undone and there was the remains of a cigarette in his pubic area. It had obviously dropped there while lit, ironically the only thing that had stopped him catching fire was the dampness of his clothes.
Lifting him onto the chair was initially quite hard as he was stuck to the chair. After we had freed him the state of things became more apparent. The chair was rotten.
We rang the hospital to let them know we were coming and hot footed it. The smell was making all three of us quite sick. I was the luckiest because I was driving. The other two were looking quite green by the end of the trip.
We got him there. He didnt die. But I don't think he'll be going home again.
That is a sad story. That man has been left alone for far too long and has been failed by social services because it didnt happen quick. We see things like that on almost daily basis so how do we deal with it?
We laugh about it, we make bad jokes about it, we talk about it, we tell our colleagues about it and we remember. Whenever we meet again we will have that, and jobs like that, as a shared experience.
Thats how we deal with it.