Dr Philip Lee Profile picture
Jun 13, 2018 15 tweets 3 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Trigger warning: (#Grenfell)

"Wake up, your phone keeps buzzing."

14th of June, 2017. 3:39 AM

I sat up, I was not on call, I looked at my phone. Two missed calls and a text from NHS-NoReply

I dialed the given number and punched in the code, rubbing my eyes.
"What is it?"

"Major incident, fire in West London apparently." I replied. Heading out of bed to the shower as my wife headed to the kitchen, turning on the TV on the way.

The tepid water woke me up, it was a hot, humid night.

"How bad is it?" I shouted.
"Bad. Really bad. Go."

I grabbed the coffee she handed me and jumped in the car. I caught a glimpse of BBC news on the way out.

Growing up in Hong Kong I've seen high rise fires. This was nothing like what I've seen before.
4:20 AM

The streets were empty, the occasional couplet of fire engines and police rush past me.

Inside the hospital, there was no chaos, no shouting, the emergency dept consultants were in, I joined my colleagues at the briefing.

At that point, we had 40 consultants in.
We had medical consultants clearing the wards of patients ready for discharge, resus was busy and filled with sick patients. I was assigned to the urgent care centre, to help treat P3 patients.

I joined my colleagues there, as patients streamed in.
Seeing and treating injuries and smoke inhalation that day, hearing the stories of escape, the frightened looks, the quiet dignity of the residents, was harrowing. But nothing compared to the horrors they've witnessed.
Injured fire crew were brought in, after treatment, their first question was "Can I head back out?"

One firefighter kept saying, "The whole thing went up, it's not supposed to do that. It's not supposed to do that."

Their bravery was humbling.
One police officer later told me he had to use a riot shield to protect firefighters running into the building from burning debris, and falling people.

We had little experience on this volume of smoke inhalation in London. Critical care beds were quickly cleared.
Patients with smoke inhalation can deteriorate quickly, going from a P3 (walking wounded) to P1 (immediate) within moments.

We had to react quickly, gathering available supplies of steroids, nebulisers, deciding who could go home, who needed to stay.
One thing that stuck with me that day, the smell. A terrible, sweet, burnt smell that was everywhere, on the patients, on our clothes, on the wards.

I still can see that night if I smell a bonfire.
I remember at 2pm, I sat in the ward office, The first time I sat down and rested til then. I had eaten half a sandwich, and I dozed off for 10 minutes, Grenfell visible from our window, still smouldering.

I wondered how many more were inside, how many more were coming.
Three and a half hours, we were stood down.

I remember driving home in silence, the smell still on me, I wanted to cry, for the survivors, for those who died in that most terrible way, but there were no tears. Just a deep, silent sadness.
That was our third major incident that year, it would not be our last. Then we slipped into a harsh winter.

Some months later, I remember walking home from the station, I had my headphones on, listening to a Spotify recommend playlist.
A song came on, at the time I didn't know what it was, and a line went:

"Good-bye today

I'd ask you to be true

Cause the hardest part of this is leaving you"

The stories I heard came flooding back, how they died going back for loved ones, to save others.
I burst into tears, weeping on the side of a street on the other side of London. People passed, looking uncomprehendingly, as I sobbed.

For all the victims
For all the survivors
I'm sorry, we did our best, I promise
Next time, we'll be even more ready


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More from @drphiliplee1

Apr 17, 2018
Britain, December 2021:

A bleak winter, as Britain's transition period nears an end to exit the EU.

A city sized spaceship lands atop Boston, Lincolnshire, crushing the entire city. Aliens attack inhabitants.

Prime minister Rees-Mogg mobilises the armed forces to attack.
Stop the War coalition blockades the M11 to "Stop unjust imperialist war" against aliens. Blames Israel and Tony Blair.

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British forces crushed after Trump tweets: "British force assembled at grid ref 225170 336189 are BEST EVER. Closest allies, Mueller is SAD"
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Mar 27, 2018
You're sitting at the nurses' station on the ward, trying to finish the admission documentation and prescriptions of your last patient.

Suddenly, a shiver runs down your spine as you hear someone shout:

"Can I have some help in here please?"
You drop your pen and stand up, commotion in one of the bays, a senior nurse runs out, "Get the cart and put the call out!"

You pick up the phone, dialling 2222.

"Adult Cardiac arrest, Ward 12 East" you speak, your voice slightly shaky

"Adult Cardiac arrest, 12 East. Thank you" the voice replies, calm.

Hanging up you hurry into the bay.
Read 16 tweets
Jan 3, 2018
Ok, I'm not a health expert, or a politician, just a low level, acute care grunt who look after sick people and the elderly.

But here's my idea of why the #NHScrisis is happening, and how to (maybe) solve it.
The government and Hunt are quite right, spending on health is at record levels. Even accounting for inflation, growing needs etc, why are things this bad? With record trolley waits, ambulance queues, mental health crisis, surely something must be wrong?
Where is gone badly wrong is this:

Social care

Social care, which includes everything from care homes, meals on wheels, carers, day centers, are largely funded by the local councils.
Read 13 tweets
Dec 26, 2017
As a British Citizen born in Hong Kong, with family in China, I find the whole branding remainers who are "talking down #Brexit" as "traitors" and "saboteurs" disturbing and odd. Especially coming from those who insist this is to defend democracy.
In China, the cultural revolution occurred between 1966-1976. Starting out as a campaign to restore the Communist Revolution to greatness, and to purge the country of "traitors" and "counter-revolutionaries"
Those who were against Mao's policies, and intellectuals, those branded "elite" in general were publicly denounce, humiliated, imprisoned, forced into hard labour, and often killed by organised mobs.
Read 7 tweets

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