Ambulance stories (17)

Another Ambulance Story post, from 2012. You will see why I have never forgotten this incident, which happened in 1981.


The leg on a buffer

There is little in life that can prepare you for having to carry a severed head. No amount of training or experience can make you ready for that moment when you have to throw a blanket over the detached item, and actually pick it up.

I had not been on front line duties very long, when we received a call to go to Paddington Station. An Inter-City train had arrived at this large London terminus, and the driver had discovered the remains of a human leg, wrapped tightly around the buffer at the front of the engine. As we were making our way, it was decided to divert us to another station, where it was possible that we might find more substantial parts of whoever had come into contact with this high-speed train, as it sped into London from the West Country.

We went to…

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12 thoughts on “Ambulance stories (17)

  1. My son studied to be a paramedic in his classes he made A’s all of his internships was like nightmares to him. One he told us about was a young girl who was in a car wreck. She was brought into the ER and my son was to take over the room that day. He had the Docotor there watching and helping but the young girl chose him to talk to. She kept asking him if she was going to make it. My son said it tore him apart inside. He wanted to save her so bad but knew she might not make it. She died with him giving her CPR. There were so many other stories but he said young children and people who reminded him of his grandpaprents was very hard for him to work with. The final draw came the day he was to be over the amulance. He was told he was in charge and he told them he would rather watch the first part of the day and they told him he had to do it. He walked away.

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    1. It is certainly not a job for everyone, Vicky. If you let yourself start to imagine you can identify with the patients, it can become impossible to carry on. That’s how I felt when I left in 2001, I was seeing people my age with diseases and medical conditions I could imagine were coming my way. And at 49 years old, I was getting past the physical demands of the job too.
      Best wishes, Pete.


    1. It would usually be a coroner’s job only if the circumstances were considered to be ‘suspicious’. On many occasions, we tried to argue that possibility with the police on scene, to avoid having to do the removal. But in this case, the policeman in charge decided to risk deeming it ‘non-suspicious’. So as it was also designated a ‘public place’, we had to convey the remains to the local hospital mortuary, Edith.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pretty awful to have to do Pete, I remember dating a fireman when I was a trainee in Hemel Helpstead and they were always the first called out to retrieve body parts on the railways, he had a few similar experiences, made me glad I just was a nurse.

    Liked by 1 person

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