“You can’t park here mate!”

Firstly, when did I choose to become “mates” with an arrogant, selfish person? At that point, the anger you feel is quite difficult to control. You want to retaliate strongly, but you have to prevent the situation from escalating unnecessarily and try to resolve it in the best way for everyone.

The last time I heard it, we had been called to a cardiac arrest. The patient’s heart had stopped and time was important. I didn’t look for a parking space, I stopped outside the patient’s house, pulled on the handbrake and we made haste inside to deal with the poor soul. We got them onto the trolley (stretcher) and took them out to the Ambulance to attempt to stabilise them before transporting them to hospital, swiftly.

That was when it happened – there was a loud banging on the back door. Already firing on adrenaline, we both looked at each other with angry eyes. My colleague was doing chest compressions and I was ventilating the patient – CPR. I went to the back door and opened it slightly. “You can’t park here mate!” he said angrily. I wanted to respond in kind, but I was a professional in uniform. Instead I said “I’m sorry sir, we’re a bit busy trying to save a life at the moment. We’ll be moving soon.”. “you’ll be moving now!” he proclaimed, as I moved around to prevent him from peering morbidly into the ambulance. I very much wanted to speak my mind, but I had a very sick patient to deal with. He ranted a bit more, then said “I’m going to call the police!”. Trying to contain my ever increasing anger as my adrenaline level rose further, I gritted my teeth and said “Sir, let me do it for you. I can have them here much quicker.”. I then put an urgent call into our control centre requesting immediate police assistance.

Suddenly his attitude changed. “They don’t need to hurry. I’m sure you’ll be finished soon”. The patient in the Ambulance was barely alive, and he had tried to tell me, where I parked my emergency vehicle was more important, I wanted them there quickly! I told him to stay where he was and that the police would be here shortly to deal with his complaint.

The police did arrive shortly, and I briefed them on the situation as I rushed round the ambulance to get in the front and drive the patient to hospital. Strangely, the gentleman had not waited around for them to arrive, but he was quickly spotted peering out of one of the house windows in the near vacinity.

Our patient lost their fight and passed away shortly after we handed them over to the staff at A&E. I later found out that the police had stern words with the grumpy man after we left. Nothing would have changed the outcome for the patient, but the anger seemed to add to the sense of failure we felt. There was no need for that job to go horribly. We had done our best for the patient, but it was sadder that their final moments should be made worse by that selfish, grumpy guy.

The anger of that moment is back as I write. Finding a parking space takes time. The Oxford dictionary describes an emergency as ‘A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.‘. Ie. No time to box park!

Next time you see an ambulance blocking the street, consider why it might be there. Weigh up your inconvenience with that of the sick person they are attending. Be patient, and let the crew do their job without interference or threats. One day it might be one of your relatives, or even you, they are there for!

Shortly after I first posted this I read a story in the news about someone who had left a note on an ambulance windscreen, with some money, telling the crew they were blocking the note writer’s driveway but it was ok. The money was for a well deserved coffee. That is how to treat an ambulance crew! There are a lot of kind people out there 🙂

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