Ambulance stories (Introduction)

It has been suggested, by family and friends, that I should add some stories of my experiences in the London Ambulance Service. These may be amusing or diverting to some, perhaps informative to others. I have added a new category for these tales, although they will also be categorised ‘Nostalgia and Reflections, for obvious reasons.

As many of the subjects of these recollections will still be alive, as will many of their families, I shall be careful not to identify them too clearly. I will be changing real names, omitting surnames, and not including actual addresses. Please be assured, that no matter how fanciful or contrived these incidents may appear, they will all be 100% true, memory permitting.

In recent years, television programmes, both factual and fictional, have sought to portray the life of Ambulance Crews and Paramedics as exciting and vital. They are seen rushing from one emergency to another, sirens wailing, and blue lights flashing. In reality, much of the job is repetitive and mundane. Attending the same addresses constantly, picking up the same vagrants and street drinkers on a daily basis, and being used to transfer patients from one hospital to another, or to take them home after treatment. Even when you are given a call that sounds serious, or potentially exciting, it rarely turns out to be so.

Of course, there are many incidents that call for complete professionalism, and the use of all the skills taught and acquired. Cardiac Arrests, Cot Deaths, Major Incidents, ‘Jumpers’ under trains, delivering a baby at home; these are just a few that spring to mind. However, it must be remembered that these are the exceptions.

With this in mind, you will appreciate that it was necessary to have a rather black sense of humour, a strong stomach, a tolerance of swearing and bodily functions, and the ability to deal with people from all classes, all races, and of all ages. If you are easily offended by descriptions of human waste, delicate situations, or upset by the reality of disaster, please avoid these posts at all costs, as I do not intend to apologise later for any of the content.

I once saw an American A&E Consultant being interviewed on a documentary about Cook County Hospital, Chicago. He summed it up very well, with the following comment.

” I spend fifteen minutes of my time, in the worst day of the patient’s life, and I do it for 12 hours a day, every day.”

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