Thursday, 2 July 2009

Old school tie

There is apparently an illustrious Grammar School in this town which is over 270 years old and which boasts a host of famous alumni…I haven’t heard of any of them…but in fairness, they’ve probably never heard of Randfontien High School or its famous alumni…mainly because there arn’t any!

The school is in our catchment area and we treat a lot of the pupils…they are typically polite and well mannered if a little snobby and concerned with their place in society…the boys are called ‘Hugo’ and ‘Jack’ and ‘Harry’…and the girls are called ‘Daisy’ and ‘Jessica’ and ‘Emma’.

On Saturday, a pupil at the school, aged 14,was skateboarding in a crowded part of the city, down near the waterfront, when he collided with an elderly gentleman and both of them fell to the ground.

The gentleman…being a WW II Veteran and a reasonable person…picked himself up off the ground and tried to help the teenager up. Master SnottySwot however lay on the ground complaining that his back was painful and that he couldn't move…or be moved.

‘Fortunately’ for him, a local GP,-a family medicine practitioner-,happened to see the accident and rushed out of his rooms to help…aided by a passing ‘First-Aider’.
And so…concerned as they both were for the teenagers C-spine…and fearing that he may become a paraplegic due to the force of the collision…they naturally…obviously…unsurprisingly… rolled him over… into the recovery position so beloved of Health-and-Safety trainers and cheap medical TV dramas!!


His parents were contacted and an ambulance was called.

It took an hour to arrive.
No surprise there to be honest as the ambulance service in this county is a bit of a joke…the front line Paramedics and EMT’s are superb, but they are let down by the Command-and-Control structures, who seemed to be staffed by the usual burnt out, alcoholic REMF* types and by new graduates who have never done any clinical shifts and whose main qualification appears to be a “Certificate in Inappropriate Dispatching”, lacking even the monkey-like ability to follow an emergency algorithm without getting it wrong.

And so the paramedics arrived and with a combination of wit and wisdom managed to get Master SnottySwot to haul himself onto a stretcher and suck on some Entonox for a while…whereupon he felt better…but not well enough to go home and have a lie down…or sandwich…and in fact his parents, aided and abetted by the GP, insisted that he be taken to hospital.

The paramedics brought him to our Unit and I was called to the ambulance to assess him…
Since he was wearing a lavender T-shirt and had a wet facecloth draped over his forehead…and was continuing to suck the gas whilst attempting a languid wave to me, I decided to accept him.
So then he and his parents spent another three hours in the hot and crowded waiting room.
With all the poor people!!
Quelle horreur!!

When I got to see him he was pain free…we had given him a huge dose of analgesia and anti-inflammatory drugs…and…despite doing every possible test known to me and the Ottawa C-spine rules committee and the ‘Wave Medical EM Pro for Emergency Doctors’ program on my Palm Pilot…I was unable to find any problem or elicit any pain.

His parents however remained anxious.

Are you sure there is nothing else you can do? Are there no more tests? He was in so much pain...

"Well...I think he was in pain because he was forced to lie on the road in an unnatural position for an hour...and because no one gave him any pain killers..."

"But...okay...theres one final test I could do I suppose...its a test we did in the Army when recruits injured themselves on the obstacle course...?"

“Right young man…do you know how to play basketball?”


“Good…now I want you to imagine that you and I are playing a game of basket ball…right here in the consulting room…okay…so…just let your mind go blank…I don’t want you to think about any of the movements you will be making…Okay?”

His parents looked at me…at each other…and then at him…and shrugged.

And for the next two minutes we played air-basketball.

He jumped…he dribbled…he even fell to the ground when I blocked him…and got back up...all by himself...

“There you go then…there is absolutely nothing to worry about…go home and watch the rugby…although I'm sure the Lions will be beaten by the Boks!"

You South Africans are really thorough…gosh…what regiment were you in?

“The Queens Royal African Deserters…our motto was… 'Errors have been made. Others will be blamed' ! "

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