Tuesday, October 26, 2010

my first ever ride in an ambulance!

okay, so it has been quite a day today and i have a little story to tell about our adventures in an ambulance and an austrian hospital.

firstly, i should probably tell you that i am not the injured one. unfortunately kev's sister claire took a bad tumble over on her ankle today when we were at the tiergarten (the zoo at schönbrunn ). luckily we managed to stumble across the first aid station as we tried to get claire to the exit to hail a cab (after failed attempts to push claire in her 3 year old son's pushchair!). the first aiders looked thoroughly bored before we arrived (one was smoking outside) and seemed actually rather excited to have something to do! claire was in a lot of pain and could barely walk. they insisted on calling an ambulance to get her ankle x-rayed and so my first adventure in an ambulance began (note: i was the designated person to stay with claire whilst the others carried on around the zoo because i could speak the most german out of everyone. ha. that says a lot!).

but we waited and waited and the ladies in their bright red and yellow 'first aid' uniforms didn't seem to know what to do. claire started to feel quite sick but they couldn't find anything for her to be sick in... and eventually they dug out a HUGE white bin liner (but they then took another 5 minutes to find the opening). luckily claire wasn't actually sick!

two ambulance men finally arrived and then we waited some more. they seemed much more interested in chatting and laughing with the 'first aiders' (i was desperately trying to figure out what they were saying but my deutsch is abysmal and i could only understand a few words here and there). they wrapped claire's foot up rather oddly, got her in a funny wheelchair thing with her foot dangling awkwardly with nothing to rest it on and then we waited some more. it turns out (one of the ladies tried to explain) that you don't just drive to the local accident & emergency department here, the paramedics have to call (i assume) some central place and they call you back and tell you which hospital to drive to depending on who has space. 

anyway, at last we got in the ambulance (after everyone staring at us at the zoo. obviously someone being put in an ambulance was much more interesting than looking at some caged animals). i was strapped in the back with claire and off we went with the blue light flashing. (oh and by the way, they do put the siren on at red traffic lights even in a nonemergency. i always knew it!). 

we ended up in 14th district somewhere. as the ambulance arrived some other paramedics came over to laugh and joke with the guys who brought us to hospital whilst they took claire off the ambulance. i heard them mention something about sylvester stallone... and then a paramedic asked claire (whilst laughing) if she was a stunt woman?!

once in the hospital they made claire get on a wheeley bed (which she found highly embarrassing as a wheelchair would have been more than sufficient). they then wheeled her into a room and left us. i should point out here that unlike in england where you may wait 6 hours to see a nurse/doctor in accident and emergency a doctor appeared in a minute. the doctor spoke a little english (yes!) and asked if her leg hurt whilst prodding it... and now, i'm no doctor...but he then twisted her ankle round and said 'does that hurt'? (surely that can't be good?!). i think claire's scream gave him the answer.

she got wheeled down a corridor and left outside (what turned out to be) the x-ray room where there was a man sitting in a hospital gown with his legs wide open (thank goodness i was sat to the side of him and didn't have a front view). 

luckily the x-rays revealed that her ankle wasn't broken but they thought maybe some torn ligaments in the foot (and a bad sprain). the doctor came back with a prescription for pain killers and a rolled bandage and then left us in the corridor. just walked away. they didn't even bandage her ankle for her... and she couldn't even walk! so i ended up bandaging her ankle for her in the hospital in the corridor whilst she still sat on the wheeley bed. the two of us then struggled down the corridor to the exit with claire half hopping half trying to support herself on me because putting any weight on her foot was excruciatingly painful. 

so there you have it. two firsts. my first ride in an ambulance. and my first visit to an austrian hospital. quite an experience.

p.s. somehow i managed to be chosen as 'blog of the month' by expat-blog.com. ha. click here to see. hopefully i don't sound like too much of an idiot! welcome and hi to any new readers!


  1. Hey there, I'm one of those new visitors who found you through 'blog of the month'! I've been living in Germany the last couple years, but somehow Vienna also fascinates me and it's on my list of places to visit this year.

    In any case, I hope your friend's ankle heals quickly -- I just fell and broke my kneecap last week (and had my first German emergency department experience!) and know how miserable hobbling around is. Gute Besserung!

  2. hey mandi, thanks for your comment.
    ouch, the broken knee cap sounds painful! how awful. i hope that it heals quickly.
    you really should then visit vienna. its a great city! i really want to go to berlin. hopefully next year i'll make it.
    i'm gonna go and check out your blog now!

  3. The thing is that if you need crutches you have to get them at a special store, you don't get them at the hospital (sometimes these stores have shops in the hospital but not always open, you have to pick your day and time to be in pain - for me it was a friday afternoon meaning the store was closed. At the biggest hospital of Vienna). So you have to get to the store without crutches, which an be quite far away - very strange. And one shouldn't call an ambulance when close to an hospital because, as you said, they don't go to the closest but to the one "on call" and with room. So it's better to take a cab to the closest one if possible. A friend who works as a paramedic in ambulances told me that.

    Hope she feels better soon!!!


  4. thanks emilie. i will know if there is ever a next time!

  5. Hehe, lets hope not. I did not know eiter until it happend to me. When it comes to things like this I am just as much an expat as you :)

  6. Hi new girl!

    I also stumbled across your blog through the ex-pat website and have really enjoyed reading it - your experiences remind me a lot of when I arrived in Vienna way back in 2002 (and came back in 2004). Vienna can be a lonely place even if you speak the language but it gets much better once you meet some like-minded people. Apropos - I'd love to meet up for a beer and show you some of the sights you might have missed so far ... I'm not a weirdo, honest :-) I'm a 28-year old Welsh girl who lost her heart to Vienna while on an Erasmus exchange and never got it back. I'm very jealous you went to ATP - maybe you'd like to see We Are Scientists with me and a friend?

    Enjoy your weekend!


  7. hey hannah! thanks for your message. i would love to meet for a beer. we are scientists also sounds great! i am currently stuck in bed with flu :( but email me and we'll arrange something!