Friday, July 4, 2008

Angry Patients Suck

A young girl runs up to our tent, panting and flushed. "I need help, my friend is hurt, come quick!" I stand and try to calm her down, "What happened, where is he?" "He dislocated his shoulder again, he's screaming, over on the grass at the other side, hurry!"

We hop on our stretcher-carrying super cool fashion statement of a golf cart and make our way through the festival crowds. I sit on the back with Ryan as NDP drives, the girl beside him giving him directions. We pull up to the group playing football on the field, our patient is obvious.

A young man is bent double on his knees, one arm hanging uselessly. He is alternately screaming in pain and dry heaving into the grass. His friends, a rough looking bunch, gather around yelling at us to hurry up. As I start talking to him, trying to assess him, he pleads with me to "just pop it back in, pop it back in!!" I explain I cannot do that, I am not trained to and I could just make it worse. At this, he begins to swear and curse at me, his friends joining in. "Pop it in, b****, just pop it in!" He begs for help, then screams at me to get away. I am on my knees in front of him, trying to reason with him, explaining what I can do, offering to call the ambulance for him. He doesn't listen, getting more and more angry. His friends join in, swearing at us, "F-ing ambulance drivers, what do you know?", "Just go, get away, you're useless!" I want to help this guy, but he and his friends are making it impossible.

Ryan touches my elbow, subtly drawing me away from the crowd. With his light touch, he makes me aware of the position I was in, and I smack myself for forgetting about scene safety.....again. NDP tries to get the patient to sign a refusal of treatment as he half crawls, half stumbles away, "I'm not signing nuthin', F-er!" His friends refuse to sign as witnesses until NDP mentions the calling the police to control the situation. They yank the PCR out of his hands and sign angrily, still swearing at us.

We get back on the golf cart and sigh. So much for trying to help people. I can handle frequent fliers, barf, blood, whiners and people of all ages without a problem, but angry swearing bothers me. I try not to let it and enjoy the beautiful day. As much as I wish I could have helped him, there was nothing else I could have done for the guy. I let it go and relax, enjoying the ride back to base.

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