Chinese whispers, in African.

I had never seen a dead body before! I had been qualified only a couple of months and had, up till now, managed to avoid a fatality of any kind. We signed on to our night shift and all was well, then the call came – “59361, 999 call. Male fallen from 4th floor window.”. This was it! My first sight of a dead body, and it was going to be gruesome.

I was attendant that night so it was my job to deal with the patient, or what might be left of him. My partner, a veteran, read the terror on my face and began to rib me a bit. I was getting nervous, but this was part of the job, I had to get through this.

Further details began to come through as we sped to the scene. It was a block of flats we both knew, and the ground below was concrete. “middle aged African male. Fallen out of fourth floor”. There was little chance he could survive that.

The ribbing continued, my nerves grew.

We arrived and were met by another African gentleman. “in here! In here!”. He ushered us into the building. What kind of person takes a dead body inside?? Then he took us to the lift…

I was starting to get a bit shakey. “man up” my partner whispered, by way of encouragement.

We stopped on the fourth floor, and heard shouting as the lift doors opened. As we stepped out we were met by a strange scene. Two, rather large African men were being restrained by their friends, either end of the long corridor outside the flats. One of them had a cut lip which he immediately demanded attention for. I looked at it and politely suggested that he… up.

Seconds later the police arrived. Both men were arrested and we were stood down.

As we drove back to our station we were confused, bemused and very much relieved. Strangely, there was also a large feeling of anticlimax. Once more I had avoided a death, but how??

Then it dawned – there had been a fall out ON the fourth floor, not OF the fourth floor!!

We laughed a lot, and the call taker was reminded of it often.

I faced my first death shortly after, but that’s another story……

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