Turn to the Dark Side PtII

Angry post warning.

I’ve already spoken about ambulance crews’ dark humour and other coping strategies that they use. I mentioned how “normal” members of the puic often don’t get it. Recently I was horrified to read an article relating to this.

It revolved around a message sent to ambulance crews, in their ambulances, telling them to “Please be mindful when outside A+E of how the public view your actions. Eg. Being on mobile phones/Snapchat or taking refreshments.

Firstly, what narrow minded, uninformed fool actually sent that message? Any member of any ambulance service should know what the crews go through. To send something like that to crews, while they are still on duty, is utterly thoughtless!

Secondly, the message began “Following a complaint from a member of the public.”. Whoever took that complaint should have put that member of public straight and explained what ambulance crews actually go through, it should never have made it past that first person.

There are blinkered people out there who think ambulance crews should go round expressionless and unemotional. Unfortunately robotics haven’t progressed that far yet so the job is still done by humans, with emotions, and coping strategies.

Sometimes they just need to chat with a friend or a loved one after jobs, outside A&E, on their phones. Sometimes one of the few chances they get to drink coffee etc is after a job, outside A&E. Normally because they are so busy serving members of the public. They might even have been on their phone to a counsellor after a particularly traumatic incident.

Please don’t ever judge crews for being human. That “member of the public” probably had no idea what the crews they were complaining about had just dealt with. Maybe they actually just needed a break and a brew, maybe they were taking the chance, between jobs, to check in with their loved ones they’d not seen for a long time.

I hope the person who actually sent that message to the crews was suitably dealt with.

Finally, if you think I’m wrong, and if you think crews should behave differently, most services are usually recruiting – why not put yourself in their shoes and see if you are right.

Oh, no doubt about it.

“You couldn’t make it up if you tried”. That’s what they told us in basic training, and it turned out they were correct. I came across many bizarre situations, some funny, others sad. “Never a dull moment”.

Situations like the time we drove 15 miles, well my partner did, as I gingerly held an empty coffee jar at arms length. Empty other than the Scorpion that had hitched a ride in a bunch of bananas then stung a superstore worker as they laid out said bananas on display in the store. It stung them on the back of the hand, when we arrived the worker said it felt like their hand had been hit with a hammer. We took the Scorpion with us so the staff at A&e could identify the species and apply the correct antioxin if necessary. It later transpired the poor Scorpion was in a mildly dormant state after being chilled with the bananas during transport, making it a lot less toxic than it could have been. It saw its days out, spoiled, in a university laboratory.

I’m no fan of football, but I worked at a couple of games as overtime. One was against a German football team. I was placed next to the Ambulance, and the German TV crew. I’d often seen toilet rolls being thrown around at football games. At this game somebody, in what must have been a moment of madness, decided that till rolls would be left under the seats of the highest levels of the stands, and these would be opened and thrown over the side when the local team scored creating a huge ticker-tape-like display.

These fans were not interested in such dramatic displays. Within seconds of the home team scoring a goal, the calls came in – head injuries, wrist injuries…all the kinds of injuries imaginable that can be caused from being struck by an unopened till roll thrown from a great height. We got busy.

That was not the end of it that night. I have no idea what the final result was, but the German presenter decided to do a live broadcast from the pitch side once most of the fans had left. A podium was set up and they went live. Right in front of the home team’s disabled stand, who were waiting until the rest of the fans had gone before leaving. I tried not laugh out loud as they heckled him on live TV.

The joke was sometimes on us, not always our fault. “Alpha362, 999 call to ******. Patient in respiratory distress”. The coffee cups were put down and we went to the Ambulance. The address was in the city so we had a long drive. We radioed Control for an update but they had nothing, the job had been passed from the out of hours service. Eventually we arrived, blue lights flashing, expecting to find a very ill patient. Instead, the door was answered by a relatively healthy, and very confused person. “Why are you here? Did you bring an inhaler? I’m not that desperate!”. It transpired that they had called the out of hours service to ask what pharmacies were open late because their inhaler was running low and they had a prescription for a new one. They were going on a trip and wanted to collect the prescription before they left!

The snow is always an object of happiness for rural ambulance crews. It makes the countryside look pretty, it creates car crashes (usually slow speed) and it’s a challenge to drive in. Rural crews are usually proud of their adverse weather driving abilities, compared to city crews.

Snow is also a means of stress relief. Snowmen (snow people?) usually appear outside stations, adorned spare items of uniform and medical equipment. It’s amazing how physiologically accurate some crews can be…

I wrote about some snow related jobs previously. During one of those situations it was suggested we created snow angels in the central reservation of the dual carriageway, but we decided against as it was right under a railway bridge and we didn’t want to end up all over social media should a train go by as we lay in the snow. And it might have seemed slightly unprofessional, maybe. That was the year a police officer had been disciplined for using their riot shield as a sledge, ironically it was a police officer who suggested the snow angels.

I did, however, get a wet posterior that year from the snow – as we were leaving the Ambulance on arrival at a job, my partner got out first since I was driving. They were in the process of shouting “watch out for the ice!” as I found out it was icy underfoot, covered by a fresh layer of snow. As I picked myself up I discovered my bum was very wet and very cold. I tried to cover it up as we walked into A&E later, but the staff got a lot of mirth from it for a long time after the night.

I could go on. Full moons, Black Friday…. Maybe I’ll write about more some other time.