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?
Callers generally fall into one of a several groups
The Old: pensioners who have seen most of their friends and family stretchered into hospital in a noisy ambulance only to be quietly removed in a box through the back door. The resilience of these people can be amazing; they barely allow a stroke, heart attack or car accident to break their stride fearing if they stop for just a moment they’ll be thrown onto a gurney and taken to hospital and put down like a dribbling dog with a broken hip. Their young families are unlikely to have the same ball tightening fear of backless gowns and the smell of disinfectant so they will try to send these doddering octogenarians to the mortician hospital resulting in often hilarious half heard arguments along the lines of:
- – “I’d like to order an ambulance for my elderly mother” (in background) ‘I don’t need an ambulance!’ ‘Mother you have chest pain and difficulty breathing I’m pretty sure you’re having a heart attack and really want you to go to hospital’. ‘Those bastards aren’t getting me, I’m fine, now pass me another packet of Rothmans’.
Passersby: knowing nothing of the drunkard/pensioner/clumsy idiot trying to free their poor DNA from the over-subscribed gene pool they reach the conclusion that what this person needs, quietly sleeping in the afternoon sun with nothing but an empty bottle of K as a pillow, is an ambulance. There are obviously instances when people suffer strokes/heart attacks etc in public and passersby save lives but there are far more instances of morons. For example:
There’s a man passed out in the bushes at the corner of my road
- -…Do you think he needs an ambulance? Is he covered in blood? Did he say he wants one?
- -No he looks fine, but I just thought you should send an ambulance
- -(Quiet sigh)Can you wake him up and ask him if he wants an ambulance?
- – No I don’t want to touch him or go near him.
- So, because we can’t be sure if this guy is awake and breaking it gets a really high code and an ambulance (costing abut £260 a time) gets to waste about 30 minutes when that time could be far better used strapping the infuriating busy-body who placed the original call to the front and driving recklessly around town with the sirens blazing until they wet themselves.
For better or worse, this is gonna be a blog centred around my job. It’s probably something you’ve given little or no thought to even though even though it’s a cog in the workings of what keeps this society running (‘you bastard!’ I hear you cry, hold your horses, I mean that in a good way).
I work 12 hour shifts day and night for mediocre pay, constantly at the forefront of an irate public who blame me for their own stupidity and laziness without congratulations, much respect or encouragement; forever trying to balance the practicalities of deciding who gets potentially life saving treatment with the mountains of bureaucracy and red-tape put in place to cover over peoples’ arses. I am an EMD. I organise and dispatch ambulances. Read more…