(continued from The King of King’s Road (9))
When the morning shift arrived at the Chelsea Fire Station, they found the homeless man still asleep on a cot in their locker room. Some of the departing firemen from the night shift lingered to describe the violent attack of the night before. The firemen decided to let the homeless man continue to enjoy the comfort and safety of a good night’s sleep. They laid a muffin and cup of coffee next to the cot and went about their morning chores.
Periodically, they checked the locker room and found the homeless man still asleep. By late morning, they became concerned. They could see that he was breathing heavily but he had not changed positions since they arrived. One of the firemen nudged him gently at first, then more forcefully, attempting to wake him. Still, the homeless man did not move. Then the fireman turned him over on his back with still no reaction. The fireman opened the homeless man’s eyelids and there was no response. At that point, they knew they needed medical help.
Several of the firemen lifted their guest, placed him on a stretcher and placed him in their ambulance. With sirens blaring, they left the station and within minutes arrived a few streets away at the Accident & Emergency Department of the Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on Fulham Road. The firemen could not find any identification papers on the homeless man, but were able to convince the hospital to admit their charge. They explained about the violent beating on the street the night before. One of the firemen remained behind to answer questions and check their neighbour’s condition. The others returned to the fire station.
The nurses undressed the homeless man and found his ribcage severely swollen and discolored. They examined his eyes and attempted to wake him with smelling salts. The nurses briefed the consultant who sent the patient promptly for chest and rib x-rays. After almost two hours, the consultant came out to the waiting room to update the fireman who had remained behind, informing him that the patient was in a coma, with four broken ribs, severe internal bleeding and a punctured lung. He was on the critical list and had a chest tube inserted to aspirate the lung. The patient would be watched closely by the A&E team, but the consultant did not expect any significant change for the rest of the day. He promised to contact the fire station if anything changed.