Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Drs ABC at a post office

Drs ABC at a post office

Hello again, I've been gone for a while as I was frantically writing my medical school dissertation.  And if you've been reading my blog for a while you might remember from my intercalated year just how much I LOVE writing research projects. For those of you who are new to this blog, I hasten to add that this is sarcasm.  But, it is DONE. Feels pretty good (plus two committee positions that I have been undertaking which involved a great deal of work have just come to an end, so I'm the most free I have been all year :D)

The two bound copies of my completed dissertation - needless to say the pink scribble is not on the actual copies but to protect anonymity! 

However whilst last week was mostly a case of being permanently attached to my desk and trying to make myself write this ^ damn thing, one of my few ventures out into the real world did yield a blog worthy story.

The context: So there I was standing in a massive queue for the post office, rather annoyed because the packages I was collecting should have been there 2 weeks ago (our local post office is widely known for being really shoddy lately, its in the local papers regulary) and instead had of course come on the one day that no one was in the house but due to their crappness lately I wasn't risking getting them redelivered and instead had paid £3.60 in parking to collect them (one was too big for cycling) and was wasting my time doing so when I should be writting dissertation.  So I was quite annoyed and was planning complaining at the counter as well about the fact one of my packages STILL hadn't arrived (and in fact STILL hasn't another week on... ....).  Anyway enough of my postage rant, but that gives you an idea of the context.  Oh and further context is that I was dressed like a total slob in trackies and a hoody (ironically my medical school hoody) as thats what I wear when I'm writing essays etc.  Anywhere so there I am, queuing, in a bad mood, dressed like a slob, when....

The event: The girl in front of me collapses! Now I didn't have to think too hard about my first action, I assumed she had fainted from standing too long (as I've said before, I'm prone to doing this so that was my immediate assumption for her).  As a result my first words to her were "Are you ok?".  I wasn't at all expecting her not too respond.  When she didn't I went into "first aid" mode from what I have been taught on countless courses and said loudly directly into her ear "Can you hear me??", when she still didn't respond I added a shoulder pinch (no no no, not to be mean but because this is what I have been taught).  [There then was a brief moment when I thought shit I'd better put her into recovery position but fortunately I calmed down and remembered I needed to check one or two things before I jumped to this stage!]
At this point I realised she really wasn't responding and asked the people in the queue behind (none of whom as of yet had offered any help) if anyone was there with her, no one was.  Someone then asked if I wanted them to call an ambulance, which was a good prompt to be honest as this is the next stage really when someones not responding so I said yes please call an ambulance.  Fortunately someone asking this reminded me to calm down and go back to the basic Drs ABC algorithm for what to do in these situations (if you don't know what I mean, the picture below explains it but not what you should do at each stage - google it or even better go on a first aid course, you can literally save a life from knowing 5 basic steps).   So I turned the patient over (and as I did so did actually have a brief scan of the girls wrists to see if she had a medic alert bracelet but I only saw what look like a watch).  At this point someone else scuttled over and said lets take off her scarf , which I didn't think was entirely the most important next point as it was far too loose to be impeding her breathing and wasn't going to stop me doing the "Head tilt, chin lift" to open her airway but I let them do it and just said something awkward like I'm a medical student if that helps at that point they promptly backed away, happy to leave someone else to do it instead and reassured that despite looking young I had a vague idea what to do... At the same time I realised that yes, I probably was the most medically qualified person here, oh god oh god oh god!! But quickly checked nothing was in her mouth and then id the head tilt chin lift to open her airway and was about to listen for breathing when she started incoherently responding - PHEWWWWWWWWWWWW

I realised the first thing she was trying to say was that she DID have a medic alert bracelet (that watch thing? verrrrry sneakily engraved in small letters on one of the links!) , then as she came round more I took her history, tried to see if she had any prn meds she usually took in this situation (she didn't and in fact hadn't taken her regular medication for a week which is almost certainly why she had collapsed) and passed everything on to the ambulance operator on the phone.  She was shivering a bit so I put my hoody over her, and someone else in the queue offered theirs.  Eventually a post office first aid person came out, checked the ambulance had been called and then did absolutly nothing (literally didn't even chat to the girl, it was insane).  Fortunately the ambulance crew turned up quickly and I was relieved there was someone more qualified to take over!

The ambulance man made sure someone went and got her package while he was checking her bp etc which I though was a nice touch.

But yeah, a bit more dramatic than your average trip to the post office! Was retrospectively quite exhilarating though ( I think this is ok to say because she was ok in the end).

Learn first aid, go on a course, its simple and you could save a life

Halfadoc xx


  1. Haha- the moment every medical student dreads! Well done for staying calm and knowing what to do- think I just would have panicked if I were in that situation!
    Did you find out the reason why she collapsed?

  2. Yeah her medic alert bracelet said she had tachycardia and she was meant to be on a beta blocker 3 times a day but hadn't taken them for a week, but not sure in exactly what way that caused her to collapse (SVT?? Wolf-parkinson white?! I don't have a clue). She also said her chest hurt but she was about my age so probably even with the tachycardia risk factor a bit young for an MI.

    Oh there definitely was some (a lot) of panicking! Was so relieved when she started responding!

  3. Te-he, I just stumbled across your blog via one of my followers, loving it so far and looking forward to reading more :)

  4. Thanks very much :), I've just had quite a long look through yours and I can honestly say I love it, as someone who is hoping at the moment to specialise (far far in the future!)in paediatrics it is always great to hear about parents perspectives, I'm going to add you to my patient blog roll :)

  5. The ambulance man made sure someone went and got her package while he was checking her bp etc which I though was a nice touch.

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  6. The girl in front of me collapses! Now I didn't have to think too hard about my first action, I assumed she had fainted from standing too long (as I've said before, I'm prone to doing this so that was my immediate assumption for her).

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