Saturday, 3 November 2007

Green Angels

I think I may have mentioned before my opinion about the Ambulance Service.

In case, for whatever reason, I wasn't clear enough; I love them to bits and couldn't imagine working without bumping into them on a regular basis.

Their professionalism shames me sometimes, their knowledge fills me with admiration, their attitude to the job shows that you can be cynical and still care, and their institutional sense of humour goes well hand in hand with coppers.

Oh, and their pay is appalling for what they do. The fact is they have to be issued flak jackets now, and attend the same jobs we do, sometimes arriving before us. I have turned up to violent domestics to find the ambo crew on scene; I know of quite a few that have been assaulted, and one or two seriously, including an LAS paramdedic stabbed in the head by a drunken husband of a victim he was attending to.

Not only that - but they often can point us in the direction of eligible nursing staff. And warn us away from others. Not to mention some of the lady ambos...

Of course, they are overstretched as we are.

So many times I've heard "LAS have no unit to send" whilst dealing with something. And I know they've heard the same many times from us. Usually it's not too bad - if it's not critical I'm happy they can't come. I'll even make sure it doesn't get chased up if they're on their shift changeover time and the patient is not too time sensitive.

Occasionally though, the wheels come off and they can't get there.

That's when every copper really starts to appreciate how much they love the ambo crews, just like a real relationship.

A while ago I took a call to a welfare check, after a daughter of a woman had been unable to contact her mother on the phone.

The woman had suffered a stroke, was epileptic, asthmatic, diabetic and had just come out of hospital after major surgery - her children were grown up and moved away, and were on their way down from Yorkshire to check on her but were worried after a phone call was cut off and she didn't answer call backs.

We turned up on scene, and spoke to neighbours who told us the same thing. The lights were on, so the door went in - with a satisfying crash that immediately impressed the elderly occupants in the nearby flats. I love feeling like a hero.

As we entered the flat, I saw straight away the woman, not elderly but obviously very very weak. She was struggling to breath, and was semi-conscious, with an enormous collection of medication next to her.

Straight away, I called up for an ambo to attend.

I was talking to her, and could see she was fading in and out, and her breath was becoming more ragged. I eyed the assorted inhalers, and realised I'd have no idea which one to offer her.

The radio crackled into life: "BX23, LAS report they have no units to send at the moment."
Area: "Received..."

Oh. Shit.

My partner was looking nervous, and as the woman sat up she started to shake. In fact, she started to convulse. I looked at him, and he got straight on the radio and started to ask the control room to chase up the LAS.

Oh shit. Oh Shit.

The woman looked at me, and her eyes seemed to unfocus, then she went rigid. I realised she wasn't breathing. I shook her, pinched her ear, "Can you hear me love?"

Oh shit, oh shit, oh shit.

Radio: "LAS still have no units to send, they will advise when they can get one."
The woman slumped forward on to me.


I pushed her off, and slapped her face, not a technique in any book but I wanted to be sure. She had no reaction so I started to pull off her jacket and jumper, I didn't want to be trying to locate her breaths and heart beats on the floor through loads of layers. My fingers were fumbling in my haste, but I managed it in a few seconds.

I yanked the woman towards me, and laid her on the floor. Well, I say laid - perhaps a better description would be "threw."

The woman landed on the floor, with an "Oof." And opened her eyes in shocked surprised.

I started a new mantra in my head: Thankyou God, thankyou God, thankyou God.

In the recovery position, all under control. Ish. I heard the sound of a siren, saw the strobe of the lights as an ambo rig pulled up the crew dismounted,


LAS did their thing, put the woman on oxygen, loaded her up.

I realised I was in love, deeply madly with both the crew members. One of them asked if I wanted to go with them.

Area: "I'd love to come with you. Anywhere."
LAS: "I meant with this lady to hospital."
Area: "Oh, er, yes, me too..."

The love remains, even after the ribbing we received from them. "I thought you said she wasn't breathing?"
Er, well, she wasn't.
"I don't know, you coppers are always flapping. See you later love."



Unknown said...

Alas, a major weakness in all emergency services - and the LAS worse than the police - is classification of calls. In your incident the LAS failed to appreciate that the adults were concerned enough to drive from Yorkshire, call you, have confirmation from neighbours, your assessment etc. This wasn't some hysterical adult saying that they didn't feel too good and seeking a ride home.
Control room staff everywhere need to listen to the signals as well as the words. Then they would be attending fewer inappropriate calls and have units available for those that need them. Goes for us too....

Anonymous said...

We have a good working relationship with the police. And for the most part there is a modicum of give and take on both sides.

At 2,3,4 o clock in the cold, black mornings the only peeps to be seen are us, the police, taxi drivers and the occasional milk float.

Sam said...

I further that notion area. I love the LAS.. I'm also rather jealous of how flash and practical all their kit is :-)

PC South West said...

Totally agree they are worth their weight in gold.
Only the other night I went from job to job with the same crew at the same jobs, with them at one before us and dealing with a druged up nutter who had decided to put his head and fist through two seperate windows.

Dark Side said...

I have nothing but admiration for the ambulance service, when most of the time all they seem to pick up is drunks, there is no wonder when a real emergency occurs they are nowhere to be seen.

It's time people where charged for using them unnecesarilly then some night think twice before calling them..

Anonymous said...

i can't speak for british ambulance service, but others here have spoken well for them. about a year ago i had an attack of angina pectoris and was transported to the local emergency room by our local service "rescue inc" and then on to dartmouth-hitchcock regional medical center, about 100 km up the road in new hampshire. i've spoken of the "stone age" of ambulance service in my day, the contrast was amazing. the ambulance amounted to a well equipped "emergency room" on a ton and a half truck chassis, with a well trained, pleasant attendant monitoring me, making the trip as comfortable as it could be considering the circumstances. "ambo driver" can be proud of his profession and where it has come from since my day. not longer any warm body hired with a driver's license but a real profession.

Mark said...

I've got a sneaking suspicion I've seen a comment from you over at Ambo Driver's place, but in case I'm mistook, do drop by and have a good rummage. Top stuff from a chap who I think you'd appreciate.

PC South West said...

I think Emma is right!! people who inflict themselves an injury by getting bladdered, putting fists through windows etc should get a large bill for being such a twat!!!

Anonymous said...

right, that would be me, also at the "lawdog files". both gentlemen are well worth reading, i'm particularly impressed with a.d.'s running story "star of life" in his other blog.

Mark said...


I blame Seasonal Dissaffective Disorder for getting my bloggers mixed up. I live in the UK, I'm not allowed to accept responsibility for my own mistakes ;)

Area Trace No Search said...

Er.. actually I've been on both, and talked via email to both blogs.

In fact, both are on my favourites on my front page of this blog, AD is at the top of them (it's in alphabetical order).

So, you're both right.

See? A career as a diplomat awaits.

Anonymous said...

not to worry, you're among friends here. weather here in vermont being what it can be i'm familiar with "seasonal affective disorder" too.

Mark said...

I'm actually dead clever, and able to read. You know, the blog page and all that. I just... er...

Well, sometimes I'm thick, and AD has been particularly good recently, and I got all excited. ;)

Having had my arse scraped off the deck my 'em before, I love medical too.

Big Pleb said...

Our local crews are fantastic and we are always bumping into each other tossing a coin as to who has to deal with the drunk who is collapsed and has pissed and shat himself.
Sometimes its a draw, our custody skipper tells us to bog off and their A&E unit does the same.
I treat going to their aid as if I am going to a police officers aid at the end of the day we are basically doing a similar crappy job for crappy pay, with their pay being even crappier.

Anonymous said...

Clearly the LAS hasn't changed. They were always brill in my day too. In one of our 'canteen' chats, I remarked that dead bodies were not so much of a problem to deal with, as seriously ill/injured people. It was with these casualties, that I really appreciated the expertise of the LAS.

thoughts running through my head.... said...

I especially love them when they get to someone who's been sick all over themselves before I do!Seriously,its always a relief when I see them turn up.

Sparkly Dancer said...

I laughed... Just at the ohshit comments.. I've had MANY of those times! It's exactly how I think!

Anonymous said...

I work for East Mids ambulance and we too have a great relationship with our Police teams. I think its mutual relief when we see them turn up and vice versa. Shame our local fire service are mostly a dim, arrogant, and ignorant (all heroes though, apparently). With regard to benjamyns comments, we have a system of prioritising calls and is solely based on a callers response to some very leading questions. For example "is the patient breathing normally"? Well at 3 am on a sunday morning having rolled out of a club vomiting bacardi breezers all over the pavement, the likely answer is going to be "No". That then becomes a Cat A (8 minutes to get to the scene) call. Go figure...

Anonymous said...

i can only echo anon of east mids comments we in west mids have a good relationship with the boys and girls in blue and i for one am always glad to see them after some lairy twat has decided to pick a fight with me because someone has already pasted him(i cant think why can you ?)i also like it when they tell me "i pay your wagesssssss....*sounds of being dragged off ambo by scruff of neck after knowing nod given* LOL you look after us boys and girls and we`ll do the same

(firemen can look after themselves..their all heroes you know)

Ambulance Driver said...

"In the recovery position, all under control. Ish. I heard the sound of a siren, saw the strobe of the lights as an ambo rig pulled up the crew dismounted,


I have said that very thing a number of times when I saw the police lights finally arrive, so the appreciation is mutual.

I have a friend who works with LAS. If you ever encounter a paramedic named Steven Hines, tell him the Ambulance Driver from Louisiana says hello.

Anonymous said...

Jeez... what's with the anti fire service stuff here? Aren't you guys all variations on a theme of public service? Isn't it better to get along?

Anonymous said...

Mark, everybody takes the piss out of the fire brigade but quite frankly i think everyone will agree when they are needed they really are worth their weight in gold. I've always been relieved when they turn up ready to cut a patient out of a car! LAS man

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