Posted by: rivettingkatetaylor | July 19, 2010

Not on your nelly….

Not on your nelly would I put my hand up to be a police officer. Nor would I want to be an ambulance officer or paramedic in today’s world.

Sure, the satisfaction of saving lives would be huge. But the danger?

A story on the Stuff website this morning tells about a journalist travelling with an ambulance one Saturday night. Dealing with the people who want them to help their comatose (drunk) friend, just so they can keep on partying…. Rushing to attend a car accident, but turning around after being told the driver (probably stoned or drunk) has done a runner… Comments about people in uniform now simply being seen as people to be attacked by hordes of drunk people coming out of inner city bars at 3am in the morning.

Thank goodness I live in the country. Thank goodness the people I hang around with don’t see people in uniform as a target, but as members of our community – someone’s parent, child, sibling, loved one. Thank goodness when we’ve had too much to drink (and I’m talking more than a bottle of wine, not a couple of boxes of RTDs) our friends put us to bed. Thank goodness that only happens, like, once a year (because it takes that long to recover from the hangover!)

Sad to start a Monday morning with such a negative topic, but let’s start the week by thinking about all the people who put their lives on the line to make NZ a safer place for us. Make it a positive topic by doing one thing this week, just one thing each, to make life easier for those who work on our behalf.

Here’s the stuff article:


More danger for ambos in changing world



Being a paramedic is not what it used to be.

Shifts are busier, patients are older, but the biggest change is in society, paramedics say.

St John paramedics are spending more time dealing with the drugged and drunk.

“Grossly intoxicated” young women and men bleeding from bar fights are now part of a regular weekend ambulance shift.

No longer automatically respected, some people now see uniformed emergency services personnel as something to attack.

In the back of Christchurch St John team manager Stephen Graham’s car is tens of thousands of dollars of equipment.

There’s the $25,000 defibrillator for people in cardiac arrest, which can monitor a patient’s condition and send information back to hospital doctors awaiting their arrival.

Life-saving drugs such as adrenaline are not simply injected into the arms of patients, but straight into people’s bones using a bone drill.

On Friday night, the team at the St John Christchurch headquarters are reading, eating dinner or watching television.

A priority one call comes through, and we hop in Graham’s car to follow an ambulance to Mt Pleasant.

Haemorrhage via animal attack turns out to be an elderly man whose cat bite will not stop bleeding. Malcolm Prebble is apologetic for having called the paramedics, who assure him he did the right thing as he will need antibiotics.

Back on the road, the screen flashes up “od/poison” and we rush into town, sirens blaring.

An 18-year-old man lies unconscious on Tuam St after being dropped off from a party-bus trip.

Friends tell Graham the teenager had been drinking beer and bourbon, but had drunk more in the past and never collapsed.

His drink must have been “spiked”, one young woman claims loudly to anyone who will listen. Another is on the phone berating his friends for leaving him unconscious.

The young man is mildly hypothermic, and taken to the emergency department as the rowdy group drifts away.

Seconds later, we head up the road to a house fire on Barbadoes St where there are fears for a person.

Smoke billows from a top-storey window, creating a ghostly silhouette of the firemen as they head inside with axes and torches to search the rooms, but no-one is found.

Back in Mt Pleasant, a car has crashed into a bush, but we turn around on hearing the driver has fled the scene.

The police dog vehicle zooms past, off to find the driver.

The previous Friday night, a man with a broken pelvis managed to run from a car crash.

// Dealing with the effects of alcohol and drugs is increasingly part of life for St John staff.

Paramedic Helen Bickers says there is an element of danger in every trip.

With St John since 1994, she has seen a “significant increase in female gross intoxication” and worries that young people do not look after each other.

“We get called to a party because somebody is drunk and they want us to take them away so they can keep partying.

“It’s not just alcohol any more … With things like P (pure methamphetamine), they lose their social conscience and are very violent people.”


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