Sunday, December 10, 2006

These Things Seem To Find Me

I was at a concert the other day, as a first aid volunteer. I was in the first aid post, with lots of incidents going on, and first aiders were in and out. A guy was brought down after being punched in the face. Security escorted him in, and I started writing up his details on our incident reports whilst two other first aiders dealt with his bloody nose.

He said he was hit because he was gay, because he was brown, because he was talking to some guys girl. I told him I didn't care, I wanted to fix him up so he could enjoy his day. This kind of thing pisses me off. I really don't like it when people use things like that as a reason. You are not just gay, you are not just brown, you are a human, and you have a right not to be punched in the face - but if you make everything into an issue, then you will get treated like an issue, and not as a person.

I was firm and direct, and got the information I needed. Everyone else got called away. The security guard closed the door to the first aid post, he was still there whilst the security teams worked out what was happening with the 'puncher' upstairs. Eventually the radio spake, and the guard said, "Other witnesses said you started it, and you are out".

I was sitting at the desk, they were by the door. After this announcement, the guy was a little upset, and got visibly agitated. The guard was all "turn around, I am going to restrain you" and the guy was all "Er, no". They got into what was pretty much a 'slap fight'. I was trying hard not to laugh.

In the scuffle the lights to the room were turned off. I rolled my eyes hugely in the pitch black darkness, got my flashlight from my belt and turned it on. I pointed it at the two of them, and the lightswitch. The guard by this point had the guy on the bed, and he looked at me with a "sorry" look on his face and turned the light back on. I was still rolling my eyes as he escorted the guy out.

I told our supervisor about the incident, and filled out an unusual incident report:
Problem: "During a scuffle, lights in the first aid room got turned off" Resolution: "Turned lights back on"

Friday, November 24, 2006


I was reminded by something I read about an incident I dealt with in summer, at the Heritage Days festival here in Edmonton.

Three ladies of somewhat advanced years came over to the first aid post. One was looking a bit peaky, and she only spoke in Hebrew. The other two were from St. Albert, and all three were Jewish. Their friend was over from Israel - "The area that is currently being bombed", she said, via translation - and had left her medication at her friends house in St. Albert. She had chest pains, and it took quite a long time for the two of us to get the full story.

She ended up feeling fine, as we monitored her and gave her some oxygen. She just needed a little sit in the cool with some water - it was a very hot day. I ended up taking all three of them to the Arabic pavillion on a golf cart, so they could have a look around before they went home. They were all super friendly, and enjoyed the attention. We even had our photos taken with them, lots of fun. They were very impressed with our treatment of them, and with Edmonton in general.

But the point of this was to outline how hard it was to get history and symptoms from someone who doesn't speak your own language. I would ask the translator whilst looking at the patient, and watch as she responded, trying to get an idea of her level of discomfort based on her body language. It was quite the challenge, especially when there is a heart problem and you are trying to determine the severity of it.

It also highlights the two very different areas for us: alert people versus unconcious people. With people who can respond, you can try to find out some information, but it is often misleading, or they focus on the 'wrong' thing. With unconcious people, you treat what you find, which can often be simpler, but also way more scary and complicated.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Ending

Last night I was at the Three Days Grace concert. First up were Idle Sons, then Mobile, followed by Theory of a Deadman. I was stage left with two other first aiders, watching the mosh pit curl back on itself and disgorge tiny wee crowd surfers like chunks of vomit (or "protein spills" as vomit is refered to on radio channels, heh).

We had a few things to deal with - bloody noses, crushed people, hurt feet. Most people got up and walked away. Like many of the mosh pits I've been to, bloody noses and black eyes are badges of honour. A few people who got a little bit squished came and sat on our stair chair for a bit. One or two had a little "protein spill" and felt better. A normal mosh pit. Suspected spinal injuries on one, but she was fine and soon disappeared into the crowd.

Later on, Three Days Grace were playing. A young lass was pulled from the front of the mosh pit by a security guard. I saw that she was in obvious distress, so I went over to help the security guard escort her over. She had trouble breathing, and I got her into the chair and tried to find out what was wrong. The concert noise, and her gasps, made it hard to work out what was happening.

Eventually, using my notepad, I was able to find out that she had been waiting six years to meet her favourite band, and had her autographed CD snatched from her hands whilst in the crowd. She was inconsolable, crying and wailing. I tried to get her to calm down, and I was seriously considering strapping her to the chair and transporting her to the first aid room to get her away from the noise and onto some oxygen.

A guy behind the side stage area tapped me on the shoulder and asked me which band. I asked her by way of notepad, and he saw her write "Idle Sons". He told me to hang on a minute. I crouched down and reassured her some more, trying to get her to slow her breathing rate. After a short while, the guy returned and we had a little shouted conversation. He had arranged for the band to meet with her - I thought he might do something like this. He asked if she was okay to walk, and I told him I'd take her until she was steady on her feet.

I knelt before her and told her that we were going for a walk. I held her hand and lead her behind the stage and over to where some of Idle Sons were waiting. She staggered, and then went from a hunched position to standing fully upright and saying "OH MY GOD!" really loudly. Seriously, it was better than giving her oxygen. She couldn't beleive it, and hugged two of the guys straight away. We walked under the seats to where their dressing rooms were, and the rest of the band were there. Members of the other bands were coming and going, and asked if this was the girl, and if she was okay now. She was delighted - looking from face to face, unable to believe her eyes.

I told 'em to take care of her, I told her to keep breathing, and I left them to it. They were just piling in the elevator to go up to their merchandising desk on the main floor.

I went back to our area and found the concert over. We waited until it all cleared, and then went back to the first aid room. A little later, when things were clear, I wandered over to the table where the bands were. I thanked Idle Sons for taking care of her, and learnt that a lot of people on the tour are called Sean. Heh.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Water Main

Yesterday afternoon there was a water main break on Jasper Avenue. This kind of thing happens when the temperature goes up and down like a yoyo. As a result of the pipe burst, an email went around to everyone in the building I work in which basically said "Don't pee!".

Everyone crossed their legs and carried on with their day.

A little while later another email arrived which basically said "OMG NO SPRINKLERS GET OUT NOW!". I can imagine the discussion downstairs:
Building Person 1: Better tell them not to pee, they can't flush
Building Person 2: Hmm that might get smelly after a while
BP1: True, maybe we should evacuate them before it gets too bad, hehehe
BP2: Hahaha, yes. Oh wait, what else uses water?
BP1: The sprinklers?
Both: ARGH! Get everyone out now before the insurance company gets us!

Of course, as we evacuated (so nice to be able to use the elevators rather than the stairs; no fire!) one wag was sure to mention how, if a fire did break out, we could probably put it out by peeing on it. A number of people with fixed grins enthusiastically agreed. It was a great relief to finally get home.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Home Town Mentioned

My hometown gets a mention on one of the blogs I read regularly, Diagnosis? N.F.I.

I also read Random Acts of Reality - that was the first UK medical blog I started reading. I'm also partial to Nee Naw, NHS Blog Doctor, and The Policeman's Blog.

The Littlest Mermaid

On Saturday I was at the Halloween-O-Rama, which is held in the Legislature Grounds. Two of us were providing first aid services for everyone there, and we wandered around inside the Interpretive Centre because the snows had come and it was cold outside. We had an ambulance parked outside, free hot chocolate, and lots to see.

Whilst we were wandering around, we saw a lovely girl of about 4, dressed as a mermaid and using a walker to help her get about. She was with her family, they were all having fun, and she was smiling as she moved along with them. Something about her really touched my heart as I watched her enjoy the event.

My partner turned to me and said that she was impressed by the little girl, and thought she was strong for using her walker so well, so young. I said that of course she needed a walker, because mermaids feet hurt when they walk on land.

It was at that point I had to move on and do something else, because some dust had got into my eyes or something.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I don't have a camera at the moment. I have a camera phone, which I use now and again. I publish pictures I take on my Moblog. I also have a Flickr account. There aren't many pictures there, though.

I used to take loads of pictures. Then something happened. I stopped. I think it is related to various things that happened fairly recently in my life. I stopped caring. I stopped feeling. Nowadays, I don't take many pictures. I never really take pictures of me. I don't like the way I look on camera, or sound when recorded. I think this is true of most people, though.

There was a creepy-good movie a while ago. It was called One Hour Photo. There were a number of interesting quotes in it.

"And if these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it's this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture."

It's the last bit that resonantes most deeply. It was pointed out to me one time by someone that not taking pictures of them meant I didn't care about them. Looking back, I think that my subconcious had finally acknowledged the fact that they never really cared about me as deeply as I did about them, and my subconcious just gave up. Plus, the statement was made during a very traumatic time. So I don't know - I'm still thinking about this.

"Nobody takes a picture of something they want to forget. "

This is thought provoking too. Within the framework of 'family pictures', it's true - just happy memories. But we record moments as they happen, especially these days with the proliferation of digital media. We take pictures of anything and everything. There are still moments in time that we want to freeze forever though.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


One time I was at a 'meet the author' session arranged by Greenwoods, the book shop, to see Terry Pratchett. He opened the floor for questions and I managed to ask him one:

"Do you find that any of your characters take on a life of their own, and become more than what you had planned for them?"

He thought that was a really good question. Just wanted to share that with you.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A to Z

A - Available: Yes
A - Age: 36
A - Annoyance: Complications

B - Best feature: Eyes
B - Beer: Guinness
B - Birthday: September 6

C - Crush: Not thought about it
C - Car: Norco Pinnacle (mountain bike)
C - Candy: Cadbury's Dairy Milk

D - Day or night: Night
D - Dream Car: Gary Fisher Big Sur (mountain bike)
D- Dogs or Cats: Dogs

E - Egg nog: Ewww
E - E-mail: Lots

F - Favorite color(s): Green
F - Favorite Band: Bjork

G - Gummy Bears or Worms: Bears
G - Giver or taker: Giver

H - Hair Color: Grey
H - Height: 6'
H - Happy: When I least expect it

I - Ice Cream: Cookie Dough
I - Instrument: Keyboard (heh)
I - Idol: Richard Branson
J - Jewelry: Silver ring, silver bracelet, silver necklace
J - Job: Computer Stuff
J - Jail: Not yet

K - Kids: None
K - Kickboxing or karate: Kung fu
K - Kindergarten: Nope, straight to school

L - Longest Car Ride: Edmonton, AB to Richmond, BC
L - Lamest Inside Joke: "You put WHAT in your coffee?"

M - Meat?: Beef
M - Most missed person: Susan
M - Movie Last Watched: The Family stone

N - Number of Siblings: 3
N - Number of Tattoos: 0
N - Name: Dean

O - One wish: To find myself
O - One regret: Hahahaha

P - Part of your appearance you like best: Eyes
P - Perfectionist?: Yes, but I can't get anything RIGHT

Q - Quick or Slow: Too fast, then too slow :)
Q - Something random: I love trees

R - Reason to smile: People
R - Reality TV Show: Amazing Race

S - Song Last Heard: Rhapsody in Blue, Gershwin
S - Season: Autumn
S - Shoes you're wearing: Black shoes

T - Time you woke up: 7:15am
T - Time you went to bed: 1:15am
T - Time Now: 4pm
T - Time for bed: 12am

U - Unpredictable: Other people
U - Underwear: Boxers right now

V - Vegetable you hate: bean shoots (damn things get everywhere)
V - Vegetable you love: brussel sprouts
V - Vacation spot: Jasper, AB

W - Worst habit: Nail biting when anxious
W - Where are you going to travel next: England at Christmas!
W - Weather: A crisp autumn day!

X - X-tra special someone: My stuffed penguin, Pedro
X - X-rays: Once or twice, most recently my hand

Y - Year it is now: 2006
Y - Yellow: Wheat fields

Z - Zoo Animal: Penguins
Z - Zodiac Sign: Virgo

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Capital Ex : Blue Rodeo

For the past week and a bit, I took some flex time off of work and did double shifts volunteering as a first aider at the Capital Ex over at Northlands. It was great fun.

One night I was at Edfest when Blue Rodeo were playing. It was a quiet night for us. I stood stage right, watching the band, when a security guard ran over and in a frantic voice said, "There's a girl in the crowd and she's...", here he paused and calmed down, " a cut on her toe and needs a band-aid.". Funny guy.

"Can she come out to the first aid post?", I asked.

"She doesn't want to lose her spot.", he replied.

We're not supposed to wade into crowds, especially at concerts. We need to protect ourselves, and security are there to bring injured people to us. If it's super serious, we'll go in with a group of security people to transport someone out. I looked at him, he looked at me. I looked at the crowd of Blue Rodeo fans swaying happily to the mellow folk/country stylings of their favourite band. I shrugged, grabbed my torch (flashlight) and plasters (band-aids) and said, "I'll follow you".

He started weaving his way through the crowd, explaining that this was a test of his memory. When we got to the area, I spoke with the girl with the toe. She explained that she had gone back-countrying earlier and had ripped her toenail, then the girl in front of her stepped back and removed the whole thing for her. Ouch. I asked her if she wanted to come to the first aid post, but she was all "Blue Rodeo! Good spot! Staying here!". I told her I could hold the flashlight whilst she put on the band-aid (and that way she treats herself, so I didn't need to fill in any paperwork). She agreed, and before I knelt down to help her, I looked around at all the people surrounding us - a precaution to make sure I didn't get smacked in the head by a rowdy fan. Everyone appeared to be pretty relaxed, so I knelt down and helped her cover her toenail, and then gave her a spare band-aid and some infection control advice. That's fun during a loud concert - "GO TO THE DOCTORS IF IT GETS ICKY OKAY?".

I stood up and looked around, checking that everything was okay... And got a polite round of applause. One guy had even looked at my name tag and said, "Good job, Dean!". I made my way out (people moved out of the way without being asked) and returned to the first aid post.

Blue Rodeo fans. Not very rock and roll, but very courteous.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Several times on Tuesday I was approached by men asking me for two band aids. I asked them if they had injured themselves, and needed further help, and they told me that they just wanted to tape down their nipple piercings before going moshing. Slayer concerts are fun.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Ten Layers Of Me

Name: Dean
Birth date: September 6
Birth Place: Harlow, Essex
Current Location: Edmonton, Alberta
Eye Color: Green/Hazel depending on mood and lighting
Hair Color: Grey
Righty or Lefty: Right
Zodiac Sign: Virgo

Your heritage: The Angles and the Saxons
Your fears: Finding myself
Your perfect pizza: Ground Beef, Jalapeno, Onion

Your thoughts first waking up: I think I should go to work today
Your best physical feature: Eyes
Your bedtime: Around Midnight
Your most missed memory: Bali

Pepsi or Coke: Coke, I guess
McDonald's or Burger King: Burger King for the Onion Rings
Single or group dates: Single
Adidas or Nike: Nike, Saucony
Lipton Tea or Nestea: Lipton, I guess
Chocolate or vanilla: Chocolate
Cappuccino or coffee: Cappuccino IS coffee

Smoke: No
Cuss: Now and again
Take a shower: Love 'em
Think you've been in love: Yes
Like(d) school: Eventually I loved it
Want to get married: Hahah
Believe in yourself: Not really
Get motion sickness: Not really

Drank: Yes
Gone to the mall: Yes
Been on stage: No
Eaten Sushi: No
Been dumped: No
Gone skating: No
Dyed your hair: No

Played a stripping game: Yes
Gotten beat up: No
Changed who you were to fit in: Yes

Are you hoping to be married: Hahahahaha
How do you want to die: Quickly

Best eye color: Any
Short or long hair: Long

1 MINUTE AGO: Reading emails
1 YEAR AGO: Feeling guilty
I FEEL: Sick - I have a cold
I HATE: Idiots
I HIDE: My emotions
I MISS: Things that are not good for me

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Chapter 1: The Basics
Intials: DWS
Middle name: William
Current location: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Height: 6'
Hair length: Short, grey
Eye color: Green/Hazel, depending on mood or lighting
Piercings: None
Birthmarks: None

Chapter 2: The Background
Do you live with your parents: Nope
Do you get along with your parents?: Yes
Are your parents married/seperated/divorced? Marries
Do you have any siblings? Two younger brothers, one youngest sister
What pets do you have?: None
What are their name(s): N/A

Chapter 3: Favorites
City: London
Vacation: India
Place lived: Harlow, Waltham Cross, Chalfont St. Giles, Edmonton
Clothing brand: MEC
Shampoo/conditioner: Couldn't tell you
Old nickelodeon show: Ren and Stimpy
Color: Green
Cheesy pick-up line: Don't use 'em, probably should
Flower: Self-raising

Chapter 4: Do You ...
Write memos on your hand?: No
Call people back?: Yes, generally
Sleep on a certain side of the bed?: I sleep on the edge of the bed
Think you're attractive?: No
Wear glasses or contacts?: Glasses for distance work
Have any weird pet peeves?: Use of English language, when I'm not GREAT at it myself

Chapter 5: Have You Ever ...
Gone skinny dipping?: Yes
Worn braces?: No
Broken a bone?: No
Had stitches?: Yes, four in my right knee after kneeling on some glass
Shoplifted?: No
Punched someone in the face?: No
Skipped school?: No
Taken painkillers?: Yes
Gone SCUBA diving?: Yes, only in a swimming pool, if that counts.
Been stung by a jellyfish?: No
Been stung by a bee?: Yes
Thrown up in a restaurant?: Not yet!
Been to overnight camp?: Yes?
Written a letter to Santa Claus?: No, but he used to come and visit our house in the run up to Christmas!
Been sent to the principal's office?: Yes
Made a prank phone call?: Yes
Been called a b***h?: Yes
Been called a Ho?: No
Met someone famous?: No
Climbed a tree?: Yes, I love climging trees.

Chapter 6: Random
If you could take back one thing, what would it be?: Hahahahaha
What time do you go to sleep?: Around midnight
Do you prefer blonde hair or brown hair?: Brown