Experience not necessary
This is another example of how experience does not always guarantee good performance, and how the wisdom of age can be cast aside by events.
One evening, I was working with the oldest, and most experienced man on our Ambulance Station. I was almost 40 years old, and he was over 50. Between us, we had some 38 years of experience in the job. Towards the end of the shift, which had been very busy, we were called to a traffic accident. It was described as a ‘hit and run’, a pedestrian had been knocked down, and the car responsible had left the scene. We had some way to travel to this job, and on route, we were updated on the radio; the situation was believed serious, Police on scene had advised us.
On arrival, things did indeed look serious. A man in his 30’s was lying across the road, which had been partially closed by Traffic Police. On examination, it appeared that the man was semi-conscious, smelt strongly of alcohol, and had a visible wound to his head. His shirt was wet around the abdomen, despite dry conditions, so my colleague removed it, to better examine the male. We immediately saw that he had organs protruding from a wound there, and soon ascertained that it was his intestines that were clearly visible. We applied a very large dressing, dampened to protect the exposed tissue, and advised the nearby hospital that we would soon be arriving with a seriously injured man.
I drove off, blue lights flashing, sirens wailing. In the back, my colleague administered oxygen, and closely monitored the patient, during the short journey to the local Casualty Department. Arriving at the hospital, we rushed him in to the Casualty, where a special Trauma Team was waiting. They quickly removed his trousers, to reveal a dislodged colostomy bag. What we had believed to be a torn abdomen, was in fact a surgical stoma, where a piece of intestine is left exposed to attach to the colostomy bag. The man was well-known to the staff there, and he later confessed that he had been drunk, and tripped over the kerb, hitting his head, and detaching the bag attached to the stoma. There had been no car, and no traffic accident, all of that had been presumption on the part of the Police, and bystanders who had happened across him. Had we not allowed ourselves to get caught up in the drama, no doubt we would have worked this out for ourselves.
We both felt pretty stupid, and it took us a long time to live that one down.