Night shifts are a whole world of difference. Often, mostly at weekends, we’d be called into the big city to help the busy city crews. This could work well as we’d get the “real” jobs while the city crews dealt with the usual drunks and alcohol fuelled brawling. Sometimes it worked out the other way around. Either way, we all knew that it was going to get busier around closing time. That was when the alcohol seemed to make people braver, and by people I mean every gender. The girls were the worst! Nails, handbags, hair pulling, scratching……The guys just turned into (what their mashed up minds thought were) He-Men, and they felt the urge to attack anyone who dared look in their direction to show their dominance. On that note, I never understood why these males turned into sobbing messes in the back of the ambulance, some even asking to talk to their mothers (yes, seriously!). So, you can picture the scene – Saturday night, drunk people everywhere, you could almost smell the aggression in the air, and us….in a white van with very similar markings to a police van…..and wearing very similar high visibility jackets to the police officers. Police officers who seemed quite sparse on the streets.
We received a call to a regular in the city centre. He was an alcoholic, with a history of violence towards the uniformed personnel of all services, and he had his own area and MO. He used crutches (I never found out why) and used to prey on the soft heartedness of the late night revellers . He would take “fits”, conveniently next to a phone box, and passers by would call for an ambulance when they saw his performances. When the ambulance turned up he’d miraculously recover and swing his crutches at the crew. Our call wasn’t the first one to him that night. When my partner read the job on screen to me we both said his name together. So we rocked up, in our white van, and got out in our high visibility jackets. there he was, lying on the ground. ” He’s having a fit!!” cried the half dressed girl, struggling to stagger in high heels while clutching a bottle of some vile coloured alcopop. My unfortunate first thought was “that will look interesting in a sick bowl later!”, then we approached our patient. To the onlookers he looked pretty much unconscious, but we knew better. We stood either side of him, each with a foot on one of his crutches. “Come on *****. We have sick people to attend to”. One of the onlookers was about to voice their surprise at our approach, but was beaten to it by the “unconscious” patient. His eyes shot open with rage and he shouted/mumbled/sprayed “**** off! The lot of you!!”. He swung his arms at us, realised he had left his, now anchored, crutches behind, then lay back down and swore some more.
Then it all kicked off. There was a small street adjacent to the one we were on, that had a number of nightclubs along it. We heard the noise first, then saw the fighting spill out onto our street. Not drunken brawling, but real viscous fighting. there were around 15 males intent on seriously injuring each other, and it was all moving in our direction! We looked at **** and told him we were retiring to our ambulance , and that he’d be best vacating the area too. Miraculously, he recovered, and rapidly hobbled away. My partner dived into the ambulance as the mob got closer, and locked the doors. I banged on the opposite side window, just as one of the males’ heads sent the large wing mirror on his side squint.
He unlocked the doors and I jumped in. I pressed the Emergency Callback button on the dashboard display, and my partner put in an emergency call via his radio…….. Radio silence! We repeated the actions another time. Eventually, a very bored sounding dispatcher responded. I shouted “We require immediate police assistance at our location!”……….more silence. “6932 to control. Immediate police assistance required! Ambulance under attack!!!”. “Oh, I’ll see if they have any units free” came the reply. “6932 to control. Listen!”. “Oh……. Is that your ambulance making that noise?”. “Negative control. That’s somebody’s head being repeatedly slammed against the side of our vehicle. Get us multiple police units, and any spare ambulances here…..NOW!!!”. ” “Roger 6932. I’ll do that right away”. He’d woken up now. We were in the middle of expressing our views on our controller when the radio sounded again – “Erm….police en route with multiple units………… So.…….erm……..are you guys ok?”. We didn’t reply.
Less than a minute later the police arrived in force! Any of the mob still mobile scattered and we felt safe enough to unlock our vehicle and step outside. It felt like stepping into a war zone. There were bleeding revellers lying around everywhere, so we called it in and began to do our job. We never found out what caused the riot, and we didn’t hear from **** for a good while. Oddly, I felt safe outside the Ambulance at the start of it, before my partner let me in. I felt very unsafe in the city centre most nights, but I was there to do a job. That night, I was in the middle of a riot, but I almost felt like the rioters were avoiding me.
Other vehicles arrived and we dealt with all the wounded. After giving police statements, we cleared.
Perhaps completely unrelated, the next job was to an intoxicated female, who I’m still convinced could not be the one who spoke to us earlier but, just to add to our bizarre night, she managed to fill two sick bowls with half digested kebab……soaked in vile blue alcopop. You have to be careful what you wish for sometimes!!!