Pets and Paramedics

I’m not forgetting technicians and responders too; I just like the alliteration of the title.  It’s a fact that a large proportion of the British public live with pets of various types, we are after all a nation of animal lovers.  I too am an animal lover, although I don’t have a pet of my own because of the long shifts I work. I am looking forward to my retirement and long walks with a Labrador friend.  Probably a cat too as I am both a cat person and a dog person.

Whenever anyone rings 999 and an ambulance or response car is dispatched, one of the questions asked is if the patient has any animals in the house, if they have they are asked to lock them away somewhere.  This is really meant for dogs which may attack us as we go into the house, a dog does not know that our intentions are to help, to the dog we are invaders of their home and possibly a threat to the family.  Some people take this literally and I remember one puzzled elderly lady asking why she had to lock her 2 month old kitten in the kitchen; she wondered if we were all afraid of cats.

Some people I’ve worked with aren’t scared of cats but have a severe allergy to them and can’t stop sneezing all the time the family cat is in the room.  The cats seem to know this and always delight in rubbing up against the afflicted human – cats obviously have an evil sense of humour.

I’ve thankfully never been bitten by a dog, a few close escapes though.  We were called to one elderly gentleman who had not answered his phone several times when his daughter rang.  She lived 200 miles away so could not just call in; she was concerned for his welfare. As we arrived the door was unlocked so we knocked and went in.  As we opened the hall door to the living room we saw the patient slumped on the floor, a scared border collie standing guard over him.  We needed to get to the patient to assess him but the dog had his head down, ears back and was quietly growling with bared teeth.  I eventually managed to shepherd the dog into the kitchen and close the door.  Unfortunately the patient had died and was beyond resuscitation.  We processed the paper work and waited in the house until the police arrived to arrange for the funeral directors to transport the gentleman to the local chapel of rest  – we made sure that they knew they had a dog to re-house.  This made a sad job even sadder somehow.

Over the years I’ve handled various dog bites.  One bad one was caused by a police dog.  A suspect had decided to try and out run the German Shepherd.  Big mistake.  The dog’s strong jaws locked on the lad’s arm and as well as an impressive range of puncture wounds the lad’s resistance resulted in a fractured radius bone.  The dog was fine.

The worst dog bite was caused by one of the smallest breeds.  One man was playing with and teasing his girlfriend’s Chihuahua.  The dog had obviously had enough and sank his teeth into his tormentor’s face.  This caused a large tear in the patient’s upper lip and nose – he had to be referred on to a plastic surgery team for a series of operations to repair the damage.  I never got to see the end result but to this day of all dog breeds I am still wary of Chihuahuas.

Budgies and parrots have never caused a problem, other than trying to escape.  The only other animal that has generated business for me is the horse.  Several riders have lost their seat and ended up on the ground.  One unfortunate lady ended up with the horse on top of her.  Thankfully all my equine adventures have always had someone who could handle and look after the horse.

Animals on the whole seem kinder than humans.  At least when they turn to violence it is due to a perceived threat and in self defence, not fuelled by alcohol or drugs or just for fun.

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