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.

There’s that moon again

I spotted another full moon this week. It reminded me that the phenomenon isn’t just limited to night shifts (patients aren’t actually vampires. Vampires don’t get ill). The “less sensible” patient can require ambulance assistance any time and, while we might not know it’s there at the time, during the day when there is a full moon.

One such call appeared on my screen mid-morning one winter. There was a lot of snow on the roads, but they were drivable. The job was about 10 miles from our station and not a high priority, so we didn’t rush.

The on-screen navigation was known for its inaccuracies, and the maps it was based on were somewhat out of date. Thats where the job began to go wrong. The estate we were going to was very new and didn’t exist on the maps the system used, but it still plotted the “quickest route”…..or so we believed.

It was when we drove into an industrial building site we first queried its accuracy. My partner was driving and came to a rapid halt at the bottom of a snowy, muddy, hill. After realising we were off course I decided to look the address up on a well known mapping app on my phone. We were very off course!

My partner turned the Ambulance and drove up the hill, at least that was the intention. Part way up the wheels lost their grip and began to spin on the snow. “You’ll have to dig us out” my partner grinned. Yes, it was my job at that moment in time. I climbed out of the ambulance and opened one of the external side hatches, located the snow shovel (modern ambulances are equipped for most situations) and began to clear the snow away from the rear wheels. My partner slowly began to drive the ambulance clear, and kept going. Stopping at the top of the long hill, they radioed me, suggesting I hurried to join them as we were still en route to an emergency.

After updating control on our situation, we got back on course with the help of my phone. The job was an RTC – “4×4 vs house”. Neither of us was sure what to expect.

As we got closer, we knew we were at the correct location. There were an unusually high number of police cars and officers also making their way to the scene. We turned a corner into a cul-de-sac and knew we’d arrived.

There was a posh 4×4 holding up a spare bedroom, seriously. The driver was out of the vehicle. Their partner was away on business but had asked them to run the car every other day so it didn’t sieze up. Having gone to do so, the driver hadn’t realised the vehicle had been left in Drive and, lurching forwards as soon as the ignition was turned on, rather than brake they had accelerated. This had propelled them across the cul-de-sac and straight into the end wall of the garage attached to the house opposite. The garage the owners had built a spare bedroom above. The car literally was holding up the room as the supporting wall had mostly been destroyed.

The fire brigade had also arrived and we left them to the structural issues while we began to assess our patient. Their injuries? They had knocked their knee on the vehicle door when climbing out! Surprisingly, they declined a trip to A&E. When we asked why they had called for an ambulance they replied “isn’t that what you are supposed to do if there’s been a crash?”.

We later found out that the excessive police presence was because the house next door to the demolished garage belonged to one of the officers.

Around the same time, a city based colleague declared the full moon.

It’s genuinely a thing!