Fay Rose heard a hospital Nurse describe the struggle of trying to save a stabbing victim.
It’s six-thirty in the evening, the sun is going down, and the day is turning to dusk. It’s clear out, and there are no clouds. The temperature is mild and it feels quiet, peaceful. People are returning from work, families are settling down for the evening, unwinding from their busy day. I on the other hand, am the complete opposite, I’m preparing my mind for what lies ahead. Praying for the Lord to help me, to guide me, and provide me with the support I will need from others to allow me to complete my tasks at the optimum level.
It starts with right artificial lighting, there are no windows and the outside world has left me, locked away for the next 12.5 hours. It’s noisy in here tonight, packed with members of the public, ordinary citizens waiting in anticipation. I can hear questions being fired left, right and centre. The young and the old, the able and less abled, children running around, parents trying to get hold of their youngsters. Questions are being answered with understanding, calm voices but with an underlying tone of urgency.
I’m focused. My family and thoughts have been left behind. My emotions, I made sure to leave behind as I left home. I’m ready.
Then suddenly, unexpectedly, the alarm goes off…… loud enough to stop the children in their tracks.
A broadcast system is directing me and others to go straight to Reception. I drop everything and run. I’m slightly apprehensive but I don’t allow myself to panic – sometimes it’s a false alarm. Doctors, nurses, health care assistants all rushing through the double doors that lead to the area where we need to be.
I’m faced with a young black male, not old enough to be considered a man; neither is he a boy. He looks like he’s in his early twenties and he’s kneeling on the floor. Both his hands are clasping his neck. He has a grey t-shirt on, but it is soaked in scarlet red blood. There is blood dripping onto the floor surrounding him, and the colour is drained from his cheeks. His complexion is pale and tired.
Onlookers are horrified, people arevpulling their children away from the scene that is unfolding, covering their innocent eyes. And I realise in that moment, that this is not a false alarm.
This is it, this is real, within seconds a wave of nausea passes through my body, I can feel my heart beating out of my chest…. and then……clarity. Everything else becomes irrelevant, secondary; the noise has turned to muffles and my ears are only processing information from the rest of the team.
Adrenaline kicks in. This, is why I’m here. This is what I do.
I rush over to put gloves on my hands, and the demands are coming in, loud and clear.
“GET THE TROLLEY.”
“LET’S GET HIM INTO RESUSS.”
“SOMEONE STOP THE BLEEDING.”
Medical professionals are rushing everywhere, there are loud noises, doors swinging and cupboards banging. The less experienced members of staff are standing horrified, with faces of dread, terrified of what is happening.
I’m stood behind him, bent over at an angle, supporting his limp body. I can hear him gargling, he’s choking on his own blood. My hands are placed on top of his, around his neck. I’m supporting him, so he does not fall forward.
Less than a minute later, the trolley has arrived.
“READY, STEADY, LIFT”, and with the help of the team we get him on the trolley. Although he is muscular, he felt light as anything – adrenaline prevented me from feeling his true weight. It was hectic now, people were running to open doors before we got there, staff pushing smaller objects out of the way: chairs, mobile trolleys…
In an ideal situation there would be no obstruction, but this was A&E, where nothing is ideal.
As soon as we got to Resus, the Doctor on duty shouted, “CODE RED”, so I ran to bleep it through to the main reception. I’m calm and relay the message in a clear and accurate way so that I don’t need to repeat myself. Every second counts, as this young man is in danger of dying.
The anaesthetic and trauma team has arrived, followed by a mix of highly qualified professionals. Their uniforms bring a rainbow of colour. The anaesthetists are wearing pinkie purple scrubs and sterile hats. An A&E Consultant is in green scrubs and another consultant is wearing his own shirt and trousers. They take some of the pressure off the existing team as they take control of the situation.
They begin to fire out requests.
“GET A LINE INTO HIM.”
“LET’S GET THE BLOODS INTO HIM.” The bloods have arrived from the Code Red call I placed earlier.
He’s hooked up to a cardiac monitor already, and I notice that his pulse is high, and his blood pressure is dropping, showing signs of major blood loss. Suddenly the pulse drops lower, which makes the team step it up a notch. We work faster, quicker, harder! The defibrillation monitor is stuck on his chest, ready to shock him.
His dark brown skin has now gone extremely pale, he’s had six bags of fresh blood transfused through his body, and yet the cardiac monitor reading is still headed downwards.
His eyes are wide – with terror? And his hands are drooping at the side of his body. Fear seems to be pouring into his face. His skin has turned from a beautiful dark brown, to ashy grey in tone. His eyes roll to the back of his head, and he gasps a last breath.
There is no longer blood pouring from his body. Confusion hits the team as we try to figure out where the blood is going. In a matter of seconds, the anaesthetist slashes his throat with a sterile blade, to expose his artery which has a two-centimetre opening, and because the blood pressure has dropped the blood is no longer gushing but steadily seeping inside his torso……drowning his internal organs!
There is one long bleep from the cardiac monitor and no reading.
I immediately jump on his chest and start pounding continuously while others sort out his airways. My arms and shoulders begin to burn, but I push through it and continue until a colleague relieves me. We all switch between each other continuing chest compressions which go on for around an hour.
I step back and watch the team fight to save his life. I’m praying “Please God, he’s too young, I’m sure he didn’t want his life to end this way”.
There’s no one here for him. No one to hold his hand. Where’s his Mum?
I remember he was abandoned by his friend in A&E, he didn’t stick around, and it got me wondering if perhaps this may have been gang related. Even so, no one deserves to die like this.
We know he’s dead, but we cling onto hope that by some miracle this boy may just come back to us.
I don’t know him, but I want him to live, this is someone’s son, brother, cousin, he has so much more to give to the world, so much more to offer than becoming ‘just another statistic of knife crime’.
If these kids knew how it really was to die like this, if they knew how people die, the fear that consumes them in those last moments, the drowning, the cold they feel as they’re departing this world. If they knew the importance and the beauty in life, would they take a life so easily? And for the perpetrator I find myself questioning why he has no value for human life. How has this happened?
I begin to think of my own son. My heart beats…….and I quickly stop myself, I see my colleague tiring and I know that it’s my turn to take over.
Some time passes and the anaesthetist says the word we never want to hear but were all expecting.
“That’s enough now, do we agree?”.
There is confirmation from all the team.
I take a deep breath, my shoulders relax but the nausea is kicking back in, I notice my hands shaking and I realise I need to get out. I need some fresh air.
It’s dark out, and cold yet refreshing on my face. I walk back in to get myself a much-needed cup of tea.
On my return, I notice that the mess I left behind has been cleared up. The wrappers, wires, syringes, trolleys, gloves were already off the floor. There was no blood left to see and the whole area was cleaned and tidy.
There he was, lying on fresh white linen. A white sheet covering his whole body, leaving only his head and face exposed. Someone had closed his eyes and he looked peaceful. He had two uniformed police officers sitting by his side, as this was now a murder investigation.
Suddenly from nowhere, an outburst of loud screeching and howling, so loud it pierced through my whole body. It was the type of cry that could only come from a mother. I feel myself welling up, an apple is developing in my throat. I’m relieved that it is not me who must speak to the family.
I walk away, and my shift continues.
There have been more than 50 deaths of young people falling victim to knife and violent crime in London since the beginning of the year. We need to get to the root of this problem. Parents, we need to step up, know what your children are doing, listen to the music they listen to. Find out what their social media activity is like. Educate yourselves to the slang they use with their friends, talk to your children, let them know that you are there for them. Sometimes it is easy to get wrapped up in bills, work and BS. We need to get wrapped up in our children. Aunties, Uncles, Brothers, Sisters we all have our parts to play. Be involved. Take responsibility for your children and family members. This is a true account from a Registered Nurse on a night shift in A&E, this is NOT a one off but an occurrence happening nearly every day. Turning a blind eye to this is not good enough. We must do more. We must be better to ensure that this future generation actually has a future.