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Richard Clegg

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Unconscious but breathing normally [Sep. 17th, 2014|06:55 pm]
Richard Clegg
This morning I was heading into work (a bit late to be honest) and crossing Westminster bridge. Quite often there's a bagpipe player there. This morning he was crouching on the pavement next to a largish lady. She was dressed quite strikingly in a bright neon blue dress and bright yellow croc-like shoes. She was also very deliberately rolling on her side like a child on a lawn, heading rather determinedly across the pavement and into the traffic. I like a bit of street performance as much as the next person so I stopped to see what they'd do next. Perhaps a tune, a dance or some lines from Shakespeare? Unfortunately, what she did next was to continue rolling right into the traffic. He held onto her to stop her going any further and the two of us managed to crouch down and drag her back onto the edge of the pavement.

I put her into a rather poor recovery position but with her head resting on my leg not her hand so she'd be a bit more comfortable. She was out but with her eyes open and not responding to anything. According to the piper, she'd started shouting at him, in particular insisting that he didn't love Princess Diana enough. He was trying to reassure her on this point when she collapsed.

The piper and another passer by started to dial an ambulance when we encountered the "people of a certain age are hilarious with mobiles" phenomenon. "What number is it?" they asked me. "It's NINE NINE NINE," I said extremely clearly. "Really, even on a mobile, are you sure?" "Yes, I'm completely certain." (You can use 112 or 911 but I didn't want to introduce doubt at this point.) A little while later they were still consulting each other. I couldn't get my own phone at this point as it was in my pocket which is on my leg which was under the lady's head.

Fortunately, as they mastered the art of phone a passing GP stopped to help (immediately deciding her first priority was to phone her next appointment to say she'd be late). The helpful lady passerby had checked the unconscious woman's bag and found medical records, some pills and something that indicated she was diabetic. The GP took her blood pressure then within a few minutes a motorcycle paramedic and two policemen showed up. The lady remained stubbornly unconscious but breathing (initially with her eyes open which was disturbing) with occasional little twitches.

I spent the time crouched on the pavement telling the unconscious lady that everything was going to be fine and an ambulance was on the way. The paramedic helpfully chipped in with "haven't got no bloody ambulances, it's the cuts isn't it?" which we all agreed was shameful (and not terribly reassuring). A blood test was started and various suggestions were made (trying to establish if she'd hit her head) and I managed to find a position where I could rest my leg a bit because crouching down with someone resting on your thigh for fifteen minutes can get a bit uncomfortable.

We found out the ladies name from her medical record and just before the ambulance arrived she started to come round a bit and eventually say something about having a migrane. (There was an intervening period where she could only communicate by nodding her head or shaking her head very slightly and only I could really say which she'd done because her head was on my leg... so there was quite a weird "No, she didn't hit her head." "Yes, she has just come from the hospital." "I don't think she's going to be able to answer a question about the nature and frequency of her fits by nodding.") About twenty minutes after it all started the ambulance showed up and she was able to sit up and get a ride. I shook the bagpiper's hand (seems from his accent he was either English or very posh Scots) because she would have certainly rolled under a car had it not been for him. I've no idea what happened next except that I was thinking about it so hard I ended up riding the tube the wrong way for fifteen minutes.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: kissmeforlonger
2014-09-17 06:22 pm (UTC)
Aww! Well done you xx
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 06:30 pm (UTC)
Well, I felt I didn't do too badly really all things considered.
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[User Picture]From: picosgemeos
2014-09-17 06:43 pm (UTC)
She's very lucky the both of you were there. Did the bagpiper already acknowledge you before? If not, I imagine you'll both be saying hi to each other now everytime you meet in the morning.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 07:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks. I'm sure someone else would have helped if I hadn't and the GP was there very quickly by a lucky coincidence. Bag pipe player wasn't somebody I was a "nodding acquaintance" with but I expect I will be now.
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[User Picture]From: ivory_goddess
2014-09-17 07:10 pm (UTC)
Well done.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 07:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks.
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[User Picture]From: andrewducker
2014-09-17 07:15 pm (UTC)
Good for you - very glad nothing terrible happened to her. I hope she's alright.

And I think that in your situation I'd probably also have been completely distracted afterwards.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 07:31 pm (UTC)
I hope she is too... but I guess that (quite rightly) there's no way for me to find out.
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[User Picture]From: shermarama
2014-09-17 07:16 pm (UTC)
(Small thing to pick up on I know but I had a housemate once who we're still never sure whether he was asleep or unconscious but anyway he was on his back and snoring and with his eyes wide open, apparently looking straight up at me, and it was indeed disturbing.)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 07:33 pm (UTC)
OK now when someone is unconscious with slight signs of having a fit then that is one thing -- but just normally when you're asleep? That's super duper weird.
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[User Picture]From: shermarama
2014-09-17 07:45 pm (UTC)
Ah, well, with some more of the story there - he's got a history of mild epilepsy and had been really pushing himself and not getting enough sleep, and early one morning I heard a crash, which turned out was caused by him zoning out and falling down the the half-flight of steps in the middle of the flat. By the time I crawled out of bed to investigate he was lying on his back on the landing and snoring but with his eyes open. (He'd been trying to get up to go to work. We did not let him go to work.)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 08:48 pm (UTC)
Good call not letting him go to work. Wow! Unconscious with eyes open is a sign to not go to the office that day. (Can you snore when unconscious? I guess so...)
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[User Picture]From: strange_complex
2014-09-17 07:45 pm (UTC)
Gosh! Quite a dramatic morning. Well done you for helping out, and I hope you didn't get too lost after your Tube distraction. BTW I laughed heartily at your accounts of the Princess Diana business and the mobile phone uncertainties. :-)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 08:49 pm (UTC)
Journey home was a bit frustrating but no biggie. I did feel a bit bad sending a "will work from home today" email from a busstop at about 11:30. Day half over before I got to home.
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[User Picture]From: drdoug
2014-09-17 08:38 pm (UTC)
Hooray for sensible thinking and being caring when needed! Nice one.

Is it always the same bagpiper on Westminster Bridge? I had the impression it was at least two or three different pipers. But I guess you will see him/them more regularly than I do by a long shot.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 08:50 pm (UTC)
Not sure if it is always the same piper guy. I've only been commuting that way for a week or so since Caron moved (when I stay at hers). I assumed it was but that could be just coz it is the same spot.
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[User Picture]From: drdoug
2014-09-17 09:08 pm (UTC)
I've only seen a piper there a few of times recently, as in within the last year or two. I'm having serious commute disruption at the moment, but it's not yet bad enough that Westminster Bridge looks like a sensible route. But I'm moderately sure I've seen at least two if not three different people there. I remember an older guy (like older than us) in a faded blue/green (Black Watch?) tartan kilt with a black jacket, tie, and a Glengarry hat, but also a much younger bloke with a brighter green kilt with over-the-shoulder and an open white shirt and no hat. Or my memory is unreliable and has merged various pipers together.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 10:02 pm (UTC)
It was the second guy I you describe I think.
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[User Picture]From: inbetween_girl
2014-09-17 09:35 pm (UTC)

D

I hope ms_siobhan is aware of the Lady Diane element! Also, well done.
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[User Picture]From: resonant
2014-09-17 09:54 pm (UTC)

Re: D

Hooray for you!
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 10:03 pm (UTC)
That's what I say!
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 10:02 pm (UTC)
She is now.

(Thanks.)
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[User Picture]From: nisaba
2014-09-17 11:43 pm (UTC)
Good on you and the kindly piper! Amused at the kids being confused by the emergency number, maybe people should have to take a learners test before they're allowed a mobile. It would be simple: 1) can you dial 999, 2) can you turn off keypad tones, 3) are you capable of testing ringtones in total privacy without a single soul within earshot.
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-17 11:46 pm (UTC)
Nobody over the age of 65 would have a phone. :-)

I was slightly boggling I must admit I might not have sounded kindly saying "Nine Nine Nine" in a really slow "I am explaining" way.
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[User Picture]From: rich_r
2014-09-18 08:19 am (UTC)
The last time I had to get someone to call for an ambulance I had to send them to a phone box (it was 1995). A chap was clipped by a bus on Skeldergate and was bodily thrown onto the pavement in front of me. I kept him from trying to get up and when the ambulance arrived they told him he'd been lucky but probably had a broken ankle then took him away.

Maybe you should get the kids to change their mobile phone ringtone to Girlschool's 'Emergency'. Then they'd know the number to call. Though I suppose early 1980s NWOBHM is a bit too retro for them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ARPFKMmNGI

(any yes, I prefer the original to the Motorhead/Girlschool version).

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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-19 09:06 am (UTC)
Well these were sixty somethings not kids in this case so I'm not sure they'd be that happy with the ringtone.
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[User Picture]From: ms_siobhan
2014-09-18 10:05 am (UTC)
You're a star Mr Steer - well done you :-)

and yes I am sniggering at the Lady Diane element of the story....I bet she can induce epileptic fits from beyond the grave to non believers...;-)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-09-19 09:08 am (UTC)
Ooooh... that reminds me, I saw Charles III at the theatre the other day. You might enjoy.
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[User Picture]From: foxy76
2014-10-01 04:21 pm (UTC)
I always wondered if I'd have presence of mind in those sorts of situations and whether I'd be useful or a total fluffer.

A few years ago I gave first aid to an elderly woman who was fitting in M&S Foodhall, clearing the area and directing the staff to call an ambulance. I put my coat under her head rather than my knee, and it ended up covered in drool and old lady makeup!
After that I jumped the queue to pay for my shopping and M&S wrote me a very nice letter and sent me a £5 voucher :-) I did wondered what happened to her though.

The strange thing was that I was feeling really ill that day and had stopped into M&S to pick up soup in my way home from the doctors. I was actually leaning on the shelves trying to pull myself together when I saw her start to fit. My adrenaline must've kicked in as I don't recall feeling ill at all during the whole thing.

Good to know that you'll instinctively do the right thing in a serious situation. Well done you :-)
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-10-01 04:42 pm (UTC)
Wow... hello you. Haven't heard from you in ages. I hope you're feeling better yourself.

Wow, that's a pretty amazing story. The fitting thing sounds really pretty stressful, like worse than actually unconscious. (And from my first aid courses, I think that's exactly what they advise you to do -- like don't get injured trying to hodl them still but make sure they don't hit their head). Good that you took charge like that -- especially if there are staff in uniforms and badges looking all official but probably not knowing first aid.

It is weird thinking that you'll never know what happened after that. (Apart from getting a voucher -- I could have had a free bagpiping voucher I guess?)
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[User Picture]From: foxy76
2014-10-01 06:40 pm (UTC)
Hello you too :-)

Yes, I think that's the right course of action with fitting. She had hit her head very hard in the initial fall and I did my best to coax my coat around and under it when she was on the floor to try and protect it. Otherwise I waited for the fit to finish before recovery position and other checks. I was really surprised how passive most people were, they were really happy to step back and not be involved!

Please don't learn bagpiping... ;-p
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[User Picture]From: steer
2014-10-01 06:43 pm (UTC)
Wow -- that sounds like totally perfect "by the book" first aid to me.

By the way, hope to be in York around Christmas. Might you be out and about -- will probably be there for the weekend before.

I do not intend to learn bagpiping in any sense.
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