Often in ambulance one of the most important parts of the job is having the patience and foresight to prepare for and endure a nice long wait.
Waiting for a patient’s paperwork.
Waiting for backup to do a lift assist.
Waiting for pain relief to kick in.
It’s often overlooked, and from my experience already, paramedics who are in a rush, end up causing themselves a lot of stress, and their patients a lot of grief when they could have waited a little longer, and done things much more easily.
Not bothering to use an IV, and then getting ramped or stuck somewhere and now having a patient whose kidneys have been filled with methoxyflurane and is still in pain.
Getting frustrated with a patient who’s a poor historian… because you couldn’t give them 30 seconds to find their hearing aids (it’s hard to give the right answer when you can’t hear the question).
Trying to move a patient without lifting aids and then getting stuck in the rain with a sore back and a cranky patient.
Sometimes the wait is short. Sometimes the wait is long. But unless your patient will benefit from speed…. it’s always worth the wait.
We were called to a motorcyclist, out trail bike riding who had injured his ankle. We required a 4wd to get to an area at least near to him, where we met the patient’s brother. “He’s only about 500m up the track”…… well 1.5km of hiking later we found him.
He appeared ok. The injury sounded indeed like a broken angle. Toes could still wiggle and had feeling, so we left the boot on as a splint. But that 1.5km in had not been fun. It would be even less fun for our patient. There was no way we were getting the troopcarrier in that way…. and the road out that we could use was so rough that we were considering using ketamine or midaz as sedation just so we could transport him.
There was another much easier option though. We could wait. One of us could look after the motorcyclist, whilst the other looked at the connecting tracks and organised some retrieval equipment from comms. We’d already carried all the gear we’d need in with us in case something like this happened (500m my butt).
So I sat there for an hour topping up doses of morphine and keeping our guy warm, until search and rescue turned up just as it got dark. Instead of using ropes and a scoop stretcher to move over gullies on foot, wrecking our backs and making life hell…. we had 4 additional guys from search and rescue, and another ambulance crew help us move the patient on a custom extrication stretcher, to a gate and out to a nice flat paddock 200m away (praise God for google maps).
The extrication was easy and took less than 15 minutes.
We spent longer than that hiking in.
The job took longer sure…. but it was an easy job once we had all the people and gear. It was a lot of fun too. We met and worked with some cool guys, got to see the countryside and went home without sore backs.
Because we waited.