Emergency services left picking up the pieces

WORSE FOR WEAR A man helps a friend
WORSE FOR WEAR A man helps a friend

From broken bones to new beginnings

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As with most Fridays, many go out for a drink or two to unwind after a hard week at work.

But with drinking games, cheap booze and a growing drink culture, the night can end with a visit to hospital.

I joined two paramedics – John Ayling, 39, and Richard Garment, 26 – from Portsmouth Ambulance Station, in Eastney Road, for their late shift last Friday evening.

8.30pm

Met the team and given a briefing for the night shift.

John said: ‘It’s quite a clear night, so we might well get a lot of calls tonight.

‘If it’s raining then generally people don’t bother going out.

‘In the summer we get more alcohol-related calls as people tend to start drinking in the afternoon.

‘But as it’s a clear night tonight, there will probably be a few people out.’

9.30pm

We go to the B&Q Warehouse, in the Pompey Centre, Fratton, which is one of the standby points for crews.

‘These are strategic points in the Portsea island and mean we can cover the area in an eight-minute response time.’ added John.

‘Other stand by points are the Hilsea Lido and Avenue De Caen, in Southsea.

9.50pm

The first call of the night.

With lights flashing and sirens sounding we make our way to Oakshott Drive, Havant, to reports of a 48-year-old man having cardiac spasms, which is causing him chest pains.

An ambulance technician is already at the scene and has started performing checks and looking at the medical history of the patient.

The ambulance carries an ECG machine – which records the heart’s activity – and is used on the man.

After assessment it’s decided he needs to be taken to QA for further treatment and he’s taken to hospital.

11.34pm

A mass brawl, involving up to 20 people, has broken out outside the Milton Arms pub, in Milton Road, Milton.

As the call comes in, the number of injured people is unconfirmed.

A huge police presence greet us at the pub and one ambulance is already there.

‘Whenever we get these calls you always find no one really seems to know what has happened,’ added John.

‘As with a lot of fights the control room will tell us there are reports of lots of people and the adreneline starts to kick in.

‘But when you get there, sometimes there aren’t many people there at all.

‘Although once I was called to Hilsea because there were 100 plus people out and someone had been stabbed.

‘When I got there it was exactly like that and it was a pretty scary environment.’

Outside the Milton Arms pub one male aged 20 refuses to go to hospital and is being treated for head injuries in the back of the first ambulance.

12.16am

The next call is to a house in Powerscourt Road, Copnor.

A 24-year-old diabetic girl lay sprawled face down on the bedroom floor surrounded by concerned friends.

They said the girl, who had reportedly had six fits and is two months pregnant, has been drinking since 6.30pm.

The group admitted they had been taking part in drinking games and their friend had had three double vodkas.

After entering the smoke-filled room, John starts asking questions to find out more about the girl’s medical history and what could be causing the reported fits.

As a precaution she is taken to hospital to monitor any further seizures.

1.22am

Lying on the cold bus stop floor is a 21-year-old man.

It was the first call of the night to Commercial Road.

The man struggles to respond, and it’s suspected he has taken both drink and drugs throughout the night.

John uses a system called AVPU, which stands for Alert, Voice, Pain and Unresponsive.

He explains: ‘This man has a reduced level of consciousness.

‘As his pupils were pinpointed before becoming dialated, there is a high index of suspicion that something more than alcohol is involved.

We can see that he isn’t alert and he isn’t responding to his name being called out.

‘So I will pinch his earlobe to see if he can respond to pain.

‘This allows us to measure his level of consciousness.’

As it was not very high, the man is carried onto a stretcher and taken to hospital.

He is taken to the resusitation room as he requires one-to-one care.

2.42am

Our second call to Commercial Road tonight.

This time it’s reported a man isn’t moving after a fight.

But as we get there the man is on his feet and surrounded by police officers.

He had a cut to the lip but refuses medical treatment.

His injuries are checked by the paramedics and they conclude he does not need hospital treatment.

2.52am

The final call of the night is to Portsmouth Central Police Station, in Winston Churchill Avenue, as a 22-year-old girl has set fire to her cell.

Officers had called the ambulance service because she has burns to her fingers and her top.

As we arrive we can see the girl appears to be drunk and refuses any treatment.

As you walk through the block you can see and smell smoke from the fire, which has been put out.

This raises concerns about how much carbon monoxide is in the air and how much may have been inhaled.

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is called to remove the smoke and the members of the ambulance’s Hazardous Area Response Team are called to assist the crew with carbon monoxide checks.

A machine is used to test carbon monoxide levels on the girl and others close to the fire, which shows a low level.

She is checked over and does not need any further treatment.

5am

Designated half an hour meal break, which we take back at the ambulance station base.