'There are things I'd rather do on New Year's Eve, but this is my job and I enjoy it'
It wasn't yet 11pm on New Year's Eve, but Leicester Royal Infirmary's Accident and Emergency department was already packed. From under a pile of struggling police officers there were angry drunken howls from a young man who had not yet appreciated his need for urgent medical care.
"Funnily enough, people aren't always happy to see us," said paramedic Nathan with a smile as his ambulance pulled out of the hospital to answer an emergency call from a man at home complaining of chest pains.
Within minutes, the ambulance had arrived at the patient's home in Crown Hills, Leicester.
He had been drinking – "Just one, no, four, beers" – but had difficulty explaining his symptoms because of his broken English. Finally, his daughter, no older than 10, speeded things up by translating.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Wednesday, May 22 2013
After initial checks,0 the man was told he could be at risk of a heart attack and should go to hospital, but on hearing he needed to leave home he insisted he was feeling better and wasn't going anywhere.
It took 10 minutes of firm, but gentle persuasion by the paramedics and less diplomatic pressure from his family to change his mind and a patient transport service ambulance was called to take him.
Emergency care assistant Hannah, 27, said: "It is frustrating to get called out somewhere, find a patient who needs hospital treatment, but then won't go.
"We can't make them, but they feel ill enough to call us in the first place. While we are here trying to get him to agree to go to hospital someone else might be in need of our ambulance."
Nathan, 26, said: "People often get surprised when we can't fix them up there and than. That's what they expect of us, but it's only an ambulance at the end of the day. Often, we can just determine whether they need further treatment and get them to A&E."
Within seconds of informing control the job was completed, another came in – a diabetic woman in Shepshed who was vomiting and struggling to walk.
As the ambulance drove off, Hannah explained why she joined Emas four years ago.
"I just wanted to drive fast," she said, giving the impression she was only half joking.
Her point was soon afterwards when Nathan asked how long it would take to get to the next destination.
"The sat nav says 12 minutes. So 10," she replied, as the lights and sirens went on.
The Shepshed patient – who had drunk four vodkas – was poorly, but deemed well enough not to have to go to hospital and advised to see her GP.
By the time the pair took their 45-minute break, halfway through their 12-hour shift, it was two hours into 2013.
Midnight had come and gone, barely noticed.
At Gorse Hill's ambulance station, on the edge of the city, they met some of the other 15 or so crews covering the county who had been busy in the city centre patching up some of the walking wounded.
After comparing jobs, letting off a solitary party-popper to welcome 2013, filling in time sheets, and eating a New Year's Eve management-issued pack-up meal, they were back on the road.
A man in his 40s, who had suffered previous heart attacks, was complaining of "bolting" chest pains.
As soon as the address, in Leicester, came in, Hannah realised she was dealing with a regular customer she had treated a couple of months ago.
It was clear he was extremely unwell, struggling to breathe or speak and the infirmary's resuscitation unit was called to warn them the patient would be coming in.
He was helped to the ambulance and a large dose of morphine was administered to make him comfortable – but with little effect.
All patients reporting pain are asked to tell the paramedics how it ranks from one to 10 and this was a clear 10. He was left with staff at the unit.
At 4.30am, as the clock ticked down to the end of their shift, Hannah and Nathan took on a final job, treating a young man in the cells of a city police station suffering chest pains.
After brief checks in his cell, the man, detained earlier in the morning on suspicion of affray, was also taken to the infirmary accompanied by two fed-up bobbies.
He insisted his pain score was "a 10" while constantly demanding an apology.
Nathan said: "It's a bit of a different one to finish off, I suppose. I think he'll be fine."
Having left the youth, still protesting his innocence, in the hands of A&E nurses, the tired pair completed their 12-hour stint. Hannah said: "It's been nine jobs (over the shift) in all, so it hasn't been typical.
"Normally, we'd do eight to 12, so it's been as bit less busy than a normal night.
"That could be because we've got extra crews on because it's New Year's Eve.
"I can think of things I'd rather be doing on New Year's Eve but this is my job and I enjoy it. At least there's the overtime."