Wednesday, 4 July 2012


"A giggle of ambulance folk talking shop"

I pulled into the car park at 06:45 and struggled to find a space. We don't have the biggest of ambulance stations and parking is often tight but this time of day is often the worst. You have all the 6am and 7am crews who are starting, the early turn FRUs, the team leaders are in, as are the duty station officers and training officers. On top of that there are the night crews, the night FRU's and any night officers, all finishing at 7am. I dragged my weary arse out of my car and headed over to the fire door in the hope someone would be in the mess room to let me in! There was, 'Morning' 'Morning' 'Morning' 'Morning' 'Morning'. The usual pleasantries were exchanged and then I went to see if there was a truck for me. Nope! Result! Back to the mess room I went! A few friends were in there, eating breakfast, drinking coffee and checking emails. 

"How's it going?"

"Yeah not bad, wish I wasn't still here but can't complain!"

"Yep, sounds about right! Good night?"

"It was mental, non stop"

"Get a break?"

"Hah, good one!"

"Any good jobs?"

"Actually we did, makes a bloody change! Had a cardiac arrest in the street!"

"Nice! How old?"

"60 odd, proper dead though"

"Dead dead?"

"Yeah, classic dead face, did 20 minutes ALS and ROLE'd it, backs killing me now!"

"I bet!"

"Had one you would've loved, this geezer was rat arsed and tripped over, head butting a wall on the way down. A proper flap of skin, skull showing and all sorts! Seriously, it was a mess, he'd done a proper number on himself!"

"Awesome! Trauma center?"

"Yeah, massive pain in the arse though, spent most of the night down"

"At least it was a decent job!

"Thing is it wasn't, he was rude and gobby, giving it all the big'un and had pissed himself. We had already been dragged down that way so the trauma center was actually the nearest."

"You made it back though!"

"Yeah some old dear chucked up everywhere, just been mopping out. It was literally everywhere, cupboard door, the bins, the bed, the runners, it was trickling towards our bags, I had to chuck everything in the front. Nightmare!"

"Grim, I had a good job yesterday, pretty horrible though. Lovely old guy with tongue cancer, we were pulling clots the size of golf balls out of his mouth. They just wouldn't stop coming, I felt a little queazy afterwards!"

"Ah mate, I had one of those before, it's rotten! Was he alright?"

"Don't know, it was our off job so we never made it back to check on him"

"Right, that's me done, bed time! Have a good one!"

"You too, have a good sleep!"

"Yeah right!"

That is a normal morning conversation! Piss, blood, vomit and dead people over breakfast! Like I have said before, there is a lot of gallows humour in this job, there has to be. It is no different to any other colleagues in any other job talking shop before and after work. The only difference is the setting. We wouldn't bat an eyelid at talking about dismemberment over a slap up meal because that is what we know. We wouldn't do the job if it grossed us out! When I read the conversation back in black and white I suppose it looks a bit cold. Talking about the dead in a passing comment, 'dead dead', 'dead face', they are just ways we talk about jobs. Dead people do have a dead face, it is unmistakable. Mouth open, eyes looking up and glazed over, it is just a look we have come to know. Normally you know within a minute of hearing the history and looking at the patient if they are going to make it. If they are not, you quickly detach yourself from it. Maybe we are sick in the head? We certainly all have a screw loose! Someone's bad day can make ours a good day. It is simply different perspectives! 


  1. It's not sick to talk about it amongst your colleagues in that manner at all. It's detachment, if you don't have that you'll go mental because you'll chew over every single death you've dealt with and it'll eat away at you. Good blog though :)

  2. Someone's bad day really can make our day a good one, it's very much the trauma junkie mentality - "I don't want you to be seriously injured, I just want to be there when you are!"

  3. Having spent years working in care with various types of people I totally identify with this kinda thing. A few years dealing with poo and vomit over breakfast alters your boundaries about what's a 'normal' conversation at mealtimes ;-)


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