My first night shift was the following day; the first couple of hours were quiet, with the occasional patient popping in for painkillers. The medical team and interpreters sat together in one of the clinic rooms, chatting and playing cards to pass the time. The interpreters worked from 4pm-2am, and because we were an all female team they escorted us to the toilet block before heading for bed.
On our way back, shouting broke out from a cluster of tents. Steve looked alarmed and ran towards the commotion; he lived there with his brother, and was worried he was involved in the fight. He emerged a few moments later looking relieved, as his brother was safe. However a few moments later, a man staggered from the tent and stumbled towards the camp exit; it took a few seconds in the moonlight to realise he was covered in blood.
We acted quickly. The medical team headed back to the cabins to prepare the crash bags, which contained the urgent medical care equipment, while the interpreters retrieved the injured man. They brought him in and lay him on the medical couch; his left nostril was split in two, and he had a stab wound beneath his ribs, and five on his back. We got to work, making sure an ambulance had been called, then assessing his breathing and circulation; however, we did not have oxygen to give for his low oxygen level, and only had two bags of fluid despite his low blood pressure.
The interpreters were amazing; Ben ran to ring an ambulance, Steve was talking to the patient in Farsi to calm him down and take a history, while Waheed squeezed in the IV fluids we had available. After twenty long minutes, the ambulance came and the patient was taken hospital, Steve going with him, as he knew him well and didn’t want him to go alone. While the medical team were still reeling from the unexpected emergency, Waheed and Ben got to work, cleaning the copious amounts of blood from the medical bed and mopping the floor. They stayed far longer than their finishing time of 2 am, and didn’t complain.
Text: Jessica Agbamu
*Names changed for refugees’ privacy
Photo: Bas Bakkenes