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February 2nd, 2010 · post by An EMD · 3 Comments

It seemed like such a good idea when it was agreed upon. A blog about working for the ambulance service; interesting and bizarre situations get spoon fed to you every day, all I would have to do would be to package them pleasantly and post them too you.

I don’t know about you, but the last thing I want after working 100 hours in 10 days is to come home and start raking over it all in a blog. I want peace and to not have to help people who are not trying to help themselves.
More than anything I don’t want to rekindle the embers of anger and frustration that I spend a great deal of my working day trying to dampen. Every single person in the call room has had this conversation:

CALLER: Hello, I’m a carer and I’ve just come to my client and he isn’t breathing
CALL TAKER: Is he still cold; is he beyond help?
CALLER: No, he’s still warm
CALL TAKER: Well, start by putting him on his back I’m going to tell you how to do CPR
CALLER: No, I don’t want to.

And no amount of argument will persuade them to. Or the passerby who leaves an unconscious homeless man bleeding from the head; or the person who shouts ‘send the fucking ambulance you piece of shit or I’ll find out where you work and smack you’.

My body feels just a little more tense now, my heart is beating a little faster and I’m a little more angry and on edge. I don’t want to rekindle this stuff.

They’re pretty good at work for giving you time away, ‘stress breaks’, and there is an in-house confidential counseling scheme. But it’s a kind of anger and resentment that wares away at you over huge periods of time that you may not even realise is there until a stray angry thought is perused back to its origin.

Fortunately this low key anger has never spilled over at those I love (with the possible exception of me almost demanding to my partner that we leave London after a spate of stabbings one night close to my home). But as it is resulting from strangers, people I never even see, the anger, only ever expressed as nasty thoughts in my head, is expressed as strangers also. Don’t get me wrong, nothing is ever expressed outwardly, I just find my mind, which has previously been a relatively serene and calm place can feel like there’s an angry wasp buzzing through it, nasty pointed and angry. It’s no-one’s problem but my own I just want to find a healthier way to express the frustration.
I’ve had grown men allow their children to die before them, because they will not listen to my CPR instructions. Ironically he was praying to his god to save his son. His son died. He may well have survived if the guy hadn’t panicked and he had done as I’d asked.
How can one process such a thing? How can I forgive the caller for that?

→ 3 CommentsThis entry belongs to the following categories: Blogs · Blue lights and sirens

3 responses so far

  • Fred Goodsell posted:
    Feb 2, 2010 at 1:28 am. Comment #1

    I think this post brings up two interesting discussion point.

    First is about worker desensitization and the effects of working in positions that deal with the public in traumatic conditions.

    The second is the positive effect on your direct community by learning basic first aid. The rate of survival is doubled when CPR is performed until someone arrives with a defibrillator.

    Whilst I don’t think anyone can know how they would react when faced by a serious medical emergency (especially when a loved one is involved) reclaiming the skills to look after one another can be empowering and help foster stronger relationships.

    I know for sure I am scared of the day I have to use the skills I have learned in an attempt to save some ones life.

  • Fred Goodsell posted:
    Feb 2, 2010 at 1:35 am. Comment #2

    Also would be interested to hear more about being employed by the NHS.

  • Invictus_88 posted:
    Apr 8, 2010 at 7:24 pm. Comment #3

    I worked for the NHS as a Nursing Auxiliary, and CPR was a semi-regular and accepted part of work as a nurse.
    I was very junior and quite inexperienced, so the actual business of it was done by a more experienced member of staff, but unless there was a DNR order there was never any question of -not- resuscitating.

    Carers who neglect to save life in such cases should be held legally to account. It is their job, and they are trained for it, and they are paid to use that training.


An Emergency Medical DispatcherName: An emergency medical dispatcher
Bio: I organise and dispatch ambulances. This is my blog about the phone calls I receive, the bureaucracy of working for the NHS and complaints about the weird hours I have to work.

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