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Stories by People Working with Animals in different jobs
A Day in the Life of An Emergency Vet.
A day in the life of an emergency vet may not start in the morning as you might expect. My day yesterday started at 4pm. I arose from bed at 4pm (from an afternoon kip), and set off to work for the beginning of my 12 hour night shift at 6pm.
At the beginning of the shift we attend rounds. Here the vet who is finishing their shift “hands over” the patients in hospital to the incoming vet. They discuss the history of the patients, their illness and the plans for their treatment overnight.
Last night, Bertie the cat came into the clinic at 6pm. He was rushed into the treatment area to be assessed immediately as he was very lethargic and had pale gums. Bertie was an old gentleman at 15, and his owners were keen to investigate the cause of his illness. He received life supporting fluid therapy and medications and had testing involving blood collection, ultrasound and chest X-rays. Unfortunately the results of the blood tests showed abnormal blood cells and a swollen liver. Today he is attending a medicine specialist to see if any further treatment can be given. Often, the stabilising treatment given in the emergency centre allows owners time to further consider the options for their pet.
Throughout the evening last night there were a number of animals brought in for many varied reasons. The consults came in at a steady pace until about 2 am. The consults included;
Unfortunately, after some initial emergency treatment, he was euthanased due to serious complications. Another sad case was a young dog who had presented with extreme tiredness. After some blood and urine testing, it was found to have been bitten by a Tiger snake. The owner was unable to treat any further and the dog was euthanased. Although this part of the work can be very difficult, it can also be rewarding to allow a suffering pet to die with dignity, and to provide emotional support to owners in a stressful stage of their loved pet’s life.
Once the consults start to ebb, time is taken to further examine the hospital patients, perform procedures and reassess treatment plans. Last night this included an abdominal ultrasound to collect urine, sedation of a cat to clean and bandage a leg which had a section of bone emerging from the skin, and sedation of a young puppy for X-rays of a fractured elbow.
Sometime over the shift, often in the early hours of the morning, short meal breaks are fitted in around the urgent arrivals and the less urgent but still important procedures to be performed. We try to be healthy but sometimes the comfort food of cheese toasties or peanut butter toast (and of course, chocolate) win out! Large mugs of coffee are always accepted with enthusiasm, and teamwork amongst staff ensures that people are supported when tiredness and fatigue set in.
The shift is at a close at 6am. After all cases have been recorded in the patient medical history and all details “handed over” to the next shift of veterinary staff, it is time for a final farewell to the patients with a pat and a cuddle. Then it is off home to a warm bed until next time.
A shift as an emergency vet is never routine and never dull!
Contributed by the Animal Emergency Centre at www.aecvets.com.au