Monday 9 March 2015

Never miss an opportunity!

Ambulance memoir.
  • I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity and privacy I’ve changed the names of individuals and sometimes places, I may have changed some identifying characteristics, so the people described do not necessarily reflect the actual person or persons involved. Incidents and situations are as I recall.
  • Swearing happens. I have used, and will use, some words that some people may find offensive.
Early 1980’s
We were on our way to deposit our patient at hospital and I was in the back chatting away with him; he had minor chest pains which either could or could not be cardiac related. At that time we had no equipment to check on heart rhythms or even to take blood a pressure, it was all down to experience. We were talking about normal things, football, the weather, his imminent demise, when I felt the vehicle slow down. I craned my neck and had a look through the connecting door to the cab; there was no traffic, so I was a bit confused as to why we had slowed down. A few seconds later we were off again, this time with a little more speed.
At the hospital Denny seemed to be in a bit of a hurry. We did the changeover pretty quickly and made our patient comfortable on the hospital trolley and left the nurse began to do her checks. We tidied up the vehicle and I went to walk over to the tea room as was normal. Denny had other Ideas.
‘Come on Clive, we need to get back.’
I pulled a confused face; Denny was never in a hurry to do anything!
Being the junior member I didn’t argue, I just shrugged my shoulders and climbed in the cab. Denny jumped in and off we went. I booked available with control and they told us to return to station. This seemed to please Denny.
We retraced our way back, and although it was a slightly longer route, we went through the same villages that we had just come through. Denny had a look of serious concentration on his face, so much so that he hadn’t even rolled a ciggie for the journey back.
As we entered the small village where Denny had slowed down earlier, a triumphant look crossed his face. He pulled over next to an old house that was being refurbished. Outside, in the drive, was a skip.
I sat there and waited while Denny went off and began to speak to the owner. There were a few grins and a lot of head nodding and Denny rubbed his hands in glee. He then walked over to me.
‘Give us a hand will you.’
‘Er…yes, sure. What are we doing?’
‘This old door and that frame is just what I need. He’s letting me have them.’
A few minutes later the back of the ambulance was filled with and assortment of old bits and pieces; there was a big Victorian door, a window frame (glass still attached), a couple of lengths of four by four, a fire grate and a couple of other bits and bobs.
Denny seemed pleased with his haul. I on the other hand was not as pleased as I just knew that something was going to happen.
It did.
About five minutes later the radio crackled to life.
‘Red call. RTA. A41. Two cars involved. No further details.’
‘Bollocks!’ said Denny. ‘Ask them if there’s another vehicle available.’
I did, and got the response I thought I’d get.
‘If there was another vehicle we would have sent it. Sorry, it’s yours.’
Denny growled and moaned as he turned on the blue lights and hit the accelerator.
The RTA turned out to be a minor one, a few cuts and bruises but one patient needed to go to hospital for a few stitches. I opened up the back of the motor and the patient stopped dead in his tracks. The back of the motor was filled with…er…stuff.
Denny and I did the only thing we could under the circumstances; we ignored it all.
The patient just looked confused as if the RTA had done something to his head and that he was really suffering from a concussion and was hallucinating; what he thought he was seeing wasn’t really there so if everybody else was ignoring it then it might be an idea for him to ignore it too. I sat him down and then moved one or two things around to get a bit more room. The door was being a bit of a problem, so without explaining why I propped it up and asked him to hold on to it. For some very strange reason this he did. He didn’t even ask why he was in the back of an ambulance after having been involved in a car accident and holding on to an old Victorian door. He just did it!
Fortunately we had to go through our town to get to hospital, so we did a quick detour to station. Nothing was mentioned until Denny and I unloaded everything and stacked it up in the appliance room, with the patient even giving us a hand.
‘Can I ask something?’ queried the patient when we were just about to set off again.
‘Of course mate,’ replied Denny, who was just shutting the back door.
‘What was that about?’
Quick as a flash Denny responded. ‘NHS cuts mate. We’ve got to save money and we’ve been told to keep an eye out for anything useful. Station’s falling apart and there’s no money to fix it.’
Denny shook his head sadly. ‘Yeah, the things we have to do, eh?’
When the newspaper came out later in the week I was relieved to see nothing in it, obviously NHS cuts weren’t worth a mention!

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