I was fortunate enough not to attend any cot deaths in my ten years with the emergency services. These were always heart-breaking jobs for staff to attend, particularly if they were parents themselves. Equally as bad were cases of child abuse and I was also thankfully spared from exposure to these.
Even more rare and just as undesirable were victims of foul play. Although homicides were uncommon I did attend a couple in my ten plus years of service. One particularly gruesome job involved a murder homicide.
I was working on one of the Metropolitan Life Support Uunits (LSU's) and we were called to a private residence to inspect the deceased bodies of an elderly woman and her middle- aged daughter.
The Police had already secured the scene, so there was no danger of the offender still being a threat. After confirming that the two victims were definitely deceased we left the scene in the hands of the forensics team to investigate.
It eventuated that the daughter, who was a psychiatric patient on home leave, for some unknown reason had suddenly attacked her mother with a kitchen knife stabbing her to death before committing suicide herself.
The crime scene resembled a war zone with blood everywhere but other than confirming they were dead there was nothing left for us to do.
The other bizarre case was in a country village where two men were having an argument while at home preparing dinner. One of them was cooking his meal at the stove and in a fit of rage he apparently lashed out at the other with his small steak knife. The chest wound he inflicted, although small, must have lacerated the unfortunate victims heart and was immediately fatal. Once again there was little we could do but wait for the police.
On the lighter side, a completely non- fatal and rather humorous case came early on in my career.
I was sent to uplift a patient from one hospital to be transferred to another that specialised in plastic surgery. I arrived in the ER and located a staff nurse who directed me to the patient.
She pulled back the curtain of the patient cubicle and introduced the pleasant male patient to me and then handed me his notes. Normally they also give a quick handover of what was wrong with the patient, but since she did not do this I diplomatically asked her what his complaint was as I was single crewed.
The nurse hesitated, looked at me and said “just pop out here for a moment”. A grin came over her face and she whispered that he had a vibrator stuck up his rectum and was going to the other hospital to have it removed. I didn’t talk much to him en route but I did notice that he smiled the whole journey.
Another very different job I attended involved some completely unconventional transport methods.
It was a random Sunday morning that I was responded down to the Police launch UDC Alert at Mechanics Bay on the waterfront.
The forty- two-foot launch was the boat being used by the Police while their new Deodar II was being built. We were to be taken to one of the less inhabitated Islands in the Hauraki Gulf where a middle aged female had injured her back.
On arrival at the dock a relative of the patient driving a tractor, which was towing a trailer, met us. This was our transport up to the house.
I gathered what I thought would be the necessary gear – Entonox, MKII stretcher and the first response kit. Soon we were trundling off along the bumpy dirt road up to where the poor lady lived.
She was in excruciating pain. It appeared she had a herniating disc in her lumbar spine. Anyone reading this who has suffered a similar injury will be able to comprehend the agony she was in.
We managed to carefully manoevure her onto a stretcher while I administered some entonox (Nitrous Oxide) an analgesic gas, which worked wonders to reduce her pain.
That was just as well because our ride back down to the wharf was on a mattress in the same trailer towed by the tractor over the same bumpy farm road.
We eventually got her back on the boat and transported her back to the wharf on the mainland, then into the ambulance. Our destination hospital was still a 30 min journey but she had already sucked her way through three cylinders of entonox. I had to go via the central ambulance station to pick up a spare cylinder of Entonox. The whole job took over three hours.