Pete In The Papers

In 2001, The London Ambulance Service received an award for its handling of the Paddington/Ladbroke Grove train crash in 1999. I was one of a group of people chosen to travel to Yorkshire for the ceremony. We gave a short interview to the London newspaper, The Evening Standard. I didn’t see the copy where the interview appeared as I was already in Yorkshire, and had actually forgotten about being told it would be in the newspaper.

Thanks to American blogger Maggie from
I now have a photo of the relevant page of that newspaper, which she came across by chance whilst researching something unrelated.

Another great benefit of international blogging.

(You can enlarge the image and see the text by clicking on it twice.)

For anyone who would like to read more about what happened that day in 1999, here is a link to my blog post.

Ambulance stories (41)

Ambulance stories (29)

A 2013 Ambulance post about one of the more ‘routine’ duties undertaken by EMT crews. This might come as a surprise to some readers.


S.C.B.U. Runs.

These were also called ‘Prem runs’, as they dealt with premature births, or ‘Incubator runs’, as they involved carrying an incubator in the ambulance. This is not a story that stretches credibility, or makes you afraid of losing your breakfast. Neither is it humourous, or likely to make you feel sad, or upset. It is simply informative, dealing with a side of working for the LAS, that was unknown to me before I started, and almost certainly unknown to everyone else too, before they started making so many TV shows about the NHS.

SCBU is a simple acronym for ‘Special Care Baby Unit.’ Most large hospitals have had one, since the 1970’s. However, they were rarely able to provide the specialist care needed when serious complications arose, such as heart defects, and other conditions requiring surgery on these tiny newborns. In these instances, it was necessary to transfer…

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Ambulance stories (2)

An Ambulance Story from 2012. Not at all unpleasant, and reasonably amusing.


Jimi Hendrix pubes

For those of you who do not know, Jimi Hendrix was a once-famous rock guitarist, who reached his height of popularity in the 1960’s. More information, and pictures, can be found at; For the purposes of this post, his hair is the only thing of interest. It was quite wild, usually in an Afro style, with a headband habitually worn around it. The reasons for this explanation will become apparent later.

Not all the interesting things that happen to you in the Ambulance Service happen as a result of 999 calls. It is a popular misconception that ambulances operate from specific hospitals, and are run by those same hospitals. This is not the case. In London, the whole area is covered by the London Ambulance NHS Trust, and the vehicles and crews are based on Ambulance Stations, at various points around the Capital. This means that…

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Ambulance stories (31)

Reblogging this from 2013. Don’t believe everything you see and hear abour resuscitation.


Resuscitation exaggeration.

During my 21 years of operational duties in the London Ambulance Service, I attended a rough average of  5-6 cardiac arrest calls in a 7-shift period; slightly less than one a day. It was not unusual to attend four in one day, then none for three days after. Sometimes, these were following injury, so were hopeless to begin with, but usually they involved elderly people, who had died suddenly, as a result of heart problems and strokes. Occasionally, there would be infant cot deaths, or juvenile drownings, and other less common causes included in this number, but they were rare. My length of service meant that I worked for approximately 1,000 weeks, allowing for holidays and sickness. If I multiply this, by a very conservative estimate, of  just under four per week, then we arrive at a total of 3,750 attempts at resuscitation, during my time there.


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Ambulance stories (28)

I am reblogging this 2013 Ambulance post about some unspeakable behaviour by a ‘bystander’. It is not pleasant.


How low will they go?

One of the drawbacks of working for the emergency services, is that you tend to see the bad side of people. They are usually so nasty, complaining, bad-tempered, or just downright violent, that you end up despairing for the human race. Admittedly, you do mostly encounter them in situations where they are drunk, injured, (or believe themselves to be) unwell, (or believe themselves to be) or showing off in front of their friends, or a crowd of strangers. After a while, you are no longer surprised by bad behaviour, and regard it as the norm. In fact, when someone is actually nice to you, or appreciative of your efforts, your first reaction is one of suspicion, that they are softening you up, for worse to come later. You lose trust in mankind overall, and see every situation as one in where you have to be…

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Ambulance stories (25)

An old Ambulance post from 2013. I think only two of you have seen this one before.


Nonsensical emergencies

Many of the 999 calls received in Ambulance Control are not worthy of a response by an emergency ambulance. However, this is not the fault of the operators taking these calls necessarily, as the callers can be very good liars, or have the talent of making a little sound like rather a lot. This does not happen so much now, as protocols have changed dramatically; however, thirty years ago, things were very different. These are just some of the countless calls that I attended, that should never has passed through the system. Please remember, that however crazy it may seem, these are genuine calls.

The fingernail faint

One evening, we were called to a nearby flat, with the job given as; ‘male fainted and bleeding’. As we arrived, we were met by a very distressed young lady, who showed us upstairs to her room. Her boyfriend had come…

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Ambulance stories (21)

Another ‘never-viewed’ post, of only marginal interest to anyone. It is also getting a ‘Decade later’ outing today. 🙂


Coming clean

This is not a story about an ambulance call. It is time to come clean, and tell it how it was, for me at least, in those seemingly far-off days.

You may have noticed references, and comments, about what I was like in those days; how I was perceived, and how I presented myself to others. So, here is some background about how I dealt with it all, the type of person that I was, and more importantly, the type of person that I wanted others to believe that I was.

When I joined the London Ambulance Service, I was 28 years old. That was older than the average at the time, although there were older people in my class at Training School. I had been around long enough, to know to keep a little quiet at first, feel the atmosphere, get the lie of the land. It…

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Ambulance stories (Introduction)

I found this old Ambulance post from 2012 that nobody has ever viewed. To be honest, it isn’t that interesting, but 10 years on, it deserves a second try.


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…

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Ambulance stories (15)

I found this old Ambulance post from 2012. It looks like only one person ever read it. Given the unpleasant story related, that is hardly surprising.


Is that better?

Retention of urine is a common condition, primarily affecting male patients. As men grow older, the prostate gland continues to enlarge, and often constricts the urethra. This can result in inability to pass water at all, or in frequent, unsatisfying urination. Other causes might include physical obstructions, such as a tumour, though this is less likely. So, this condition is considered a run-of-the-mill job by ambulance crews, and is normally already diagnosed by a G.P. The ambulance is summoned to take the affected person to hospital, for a pre-arranged examination by a urologist, and it is not considered to be an emergency. In many cases, the man will make his own way to hospital, though if he has another condition already, such as a heart problem, difficulty in walking, or breathing problems, it is likely that his doctor will request transport by ambulance.

One late afternoon shift…

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Ambulance life

Reblogging a 2012 post that nobody (except A) has seen. It is about my early days as an EMT in London. It is all very different now of course.


For those who read my posts on a regular basis, you may see a pattern appearing in my ‘Ambulance Stories’ category. That pattern is that many of the calls we were sent to, differ greatly from the description given to us by Ambulance Control. This may seem fanciful and affected to the outsider, though I can assure you that all these stories are 100% accurate. Perhaps some explanation of general life as an Ambulanceman in London (at least when I was still in it ) will put some of this into better context.

At the time I joined, the London Ambulance Service was a very different organisation to the one it is today. It was short-staffed, under-funded, and the staff were poorly paid, and did the job with very little equipment. Many of the operational managers were ex-military types, and the uniform reflected this, in being totally unsuitable for the…

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