Monday, November 27, 2006

one-way or return?

"from 19 November if you don’t touch in and touch out you will pay a maximum cash fare for your Tube/DLR journey" you may have heard/read on the radio/paper in the last few weeks. the oyster card for those non-londoners reading is a credit card sized ticket onto which one can buy tube/bus tickets. the option also exists to load a preassigned amount of money onto the card so that each time it is touched on the yellow disks above at ticket barriers the travel fee is automatically deducted from the card.

anyway it was with the above warning in mind that Ms D&C and I descended into the depths of the underground on Saturday night.

a bit of background: she'd just finished a fourteen hour shift and i had of course been bumming around at home. a good friend of hers was having a house party in islington and given that poor Ms D&C was so tired by halfway through the shift our initial plan had been to stay in, put on the Shrek soundtrack, eat some cereal, dance in our pyjamas - you know the usual saturday night stuff that everyone does.

however on her way home she had a change of heart, decided that if all we did was go to work and sit at home that would make us very very boring indeed. so at about ten thirty we were all set to head off. the bus was going to take five million years and it was icy so we made the executive decision to head on the tube.

crate of beers in my arms and bottles of wine in hers we switched at oxford circus to get onto the victoria line to highbury and islington. i powered through the crowds to cross platforms. i saw an opening in the throng and nearly made it through when a hand pulled me back. i turned around to see Ms D&C gesturing with some import at the ground.

a man in his 70s lay there. let's say he wasn't looking too well. blue in the face, not breathing. this is generally a pretty bad thing. people were standing around but not doing a great deal. so we started CPR.

after three rounds we weren't getting anywhere. still no pulse, still not breathing. the staff were clearing the station and then one of the ticket people ran back with a defibrillator. first aiders will tell you that the whole point of CPR is a holding measure until the heart can be restarted with electricity. sure enough after the first shock, his pulse came back and he started breathing. we waited for the ambulance.

his pulse started to get more thready and weak and then it disappeared. he was shocked again and then did two more rounds of CPR and during the third he came back. by this point the paramedics had just come round the corner and we proceeded to load him onto the stretcher.

it was that night i realised that the only way out of underground stations is the escalator. there are no emergency lifts. this man was quite heavy what with the oxygen and everything so eight of us had to carry him on the stretcher up those huge escalators to the ambulance waiting opposite topshop. i kept glancing at the heart rhythm which before the second shock had looked like supraventricular tachycardia (a very fast heart beat) but was now sinus tachycardia (a more stable heart rhythm) so was slightly more relaxed.

as we rounded the ticket barriers with this man on the stretched neither myself nor Ms D&C validated our oyster cards.

he disappeared with his wife and the ambulance crew into the night and we decided to give up on the tube for the evening and a taxi whisked us across town for beers and mulled wine.

the next morning we decided to call transport for london to explain why we hadn't touched out at the ticket barrier in the hope of not being charged 30 quid or whatever. i went through where we had got on the tube in excruciating detail and then described exactly what had happened on the platform to the guy on the helpline. the last part of the conversation went something like this.

"so this man had fallen down?"

"well kind of. he fell down because his heart had stopped."
"so he had a heart attack?"

"he had a big bypass surgery scar on his chest so that's a possibility."

"and you helped him upstairs?"

"well kind of. it was more we were trying to get his heart started."

"and why were you unable to validate your oyster card?"

"there was eight of carrying him on stretcher. i had no hands free. i think we were all quite worried and concentrating on getting him safely out of the station into the ambulance. going back through the barriers to touch out wasn't really a priority"

"ok sir. i'll refund you this time but may i remind you that from 19 November if you don’t touch in and touch out you will pay a maximum cash fare for your Tube/DLR journey and i won't be so lenient."


[the brian jonestown massacre were superb. a really really tight band. anton newcombe remains as narcissistic, self absorbed, talented, and messed up as ten years ago. i never know what to make of him. i flit between thinking he's a total wanker and then filled with awe and admiration. he spent five minutes having a go at a heckler. hilarious. joel gion seemed oddly mute though.]


i found out today that the man from saturday night survived and is doing well in hospital. i'm relieved and pleased for him. i might look at work slightly differently today. maybe it's not all so bad.


Anonymous said...

Geez. You're kidding. They should give people like you and the Ms. at LEAST a free month's worth of tube-riding.

Stupid world.

Anonymous said...

ahh, people who stick to the rules no matter what the circumstance. wonderful old world.

Lizzy said...

Blimey...and was it a good night after all that?
also BJM Newcastle Friday - as you say they are dependably contradictory, maybe

Anonymous said...

how did your exam go?? results out today if you search the mrcp website with your candidate number!

Anonymous said...

If his rhythm was SVT, and he had no pulse, isn't that PEA, and thus non-shockable... or were you synch-shocking?

Dazed & Confused said...

didn't give the full gory detatils. came back after first shock and CPR. was breathing and had good output and looked like SVT on the monitor at this point. stayed like this for about two minutes. then lost output again. bit more CPR, monitor showed VT and shocked again. stayed in sinus after second shock.

Anonymous said...

What a night! Glad the patient is OK. Maybe London transport should consider employing human beings instead of ****s?

Anonymous said...

Re the SVT... sorry. I was being an arse. Too long at work etc. No excuse. Sorry

Dazed & Confused said...

kate/anonymous/dr k: i know. jobsworths of the world unite.
lizzy: was a great night although we both felt a bit shaken afterwards. how was BJM in newcastle?
anonymous2: STUPIDLY did not opt for online results. everyone i know has got results - i am STILL waiting for the envelope. very very stressed.
anonymous3: no need to apologise

kingmagic said...

Glad to hear of a doc getting stuck in.
Good luck with your results.

Anonymous said...

bloody royal college are such ASSES, they knew virtually on the DAY we did the examination who passed/failed, so why the hell does it take them this long to post results??? i opted for the online results but there is still no excuse for the time it takes them to sort out the paperwork.

god knows we pay enough money to them for the privelege of sitting them. and part 1 and part 2 written are computer marked, so there's no excuse. aaaargh!

Anonymous said...

Pffft, well, if you ask me, that is simply one of the most pathetic excuses I have heard for dodging your fare.

Tapping in and out with Oyster is so very easy and simple and time efficient. You honestly can't expect me to believe that you couldn't take THREE SECONDS to tap out with your card whilst trying to shock somebody back to life on an escalator. I mean, come on, how hard can it be?

If you were trying to dodge your fare, then just be honest and say so. We won't judge you. / end heavy sarcasm.

Honestly. The Tfl people ought to thank their lucky stars that you were there (can you picture the headlines on the Metro the next day? OAP DIES ON TUBE.) In fact, they should be paying YOU for using their tube!

Benedict 16th said...

But if you had delivered a baby (read "good news story") you and the kid would have got lifetime free tube transport. Mind you the guy might have been Tony Blair - hence the reason Mr Helpline wasn't happy?