Wednesday 7 August 2013

Life Goes On

So, there I was, in Costa coffee, in the middle of town on a hot summers day, people watching! Throngs of people were rushing past in both directions, most with their mobile phone to their ear, the rest starring down at them as they walked. People don't break their stride for anything. Nothing can come in the way of routine.

Inside was the usual hustle and bustle of a busy coffee shop. The symphony of mobile phones, steam from the coffee machine, the chinks of china and metal spoons, the scraping of chairs and the dull hum of many discernible conversations echoed throughout the room. There I was doing my thing, there they were doing their thing.

I was deep in concentration and very task focused. Perhaps I didn't take care not to leave my bag in the way of the thoroughfare. Personally I didn't think it was too much in the way but hey, I guess it's subjective! A lady in a business suit, made a real song and dance over having to step over it, tutting as she did. I apologised and moved it out of her way so she could rush out and join the drones. I remember thinking 'that skirt is WAY too short, who's she trying to impress?!'.

It appears it wasn't only my bag in the way! Clearly I'd positioned myself in the worst place possible as within a minute a mum with a double buggy was trying to get by! This was NOT my fault. This thing was like a small car. You can't drive a car through a coffee shop so you shouldn't try and drive a tank of a buggy either! Anyway, rather than get in an argument about the rights and wrongs of double buggies weaving between coffee shop tables, I moved myself out the way and let her be on her way. 

I looked around the room and everyone appeared to be in their own bubbles. Two people having in depth conversations, mothers talking to their babies, a few people reading their books or newspaper, others on their laptops and some starring at their phones, tapping away. Then there was the queue! We LOVE a queue in this country! It's all so ordered! The constant gaze at the menu and the perusing of the patisserie stand. the starring at the watches, the playing with the phone and the shuffle forward like a penguin when someone leaves! It's amazing to watch! This particular queue was gradually getting bigger and was now blocking the path to the toilets. Now more people had to come past me! That meant more tuts. Some people even knocked into me which I thought was a little off!

The chime of the door was constant, as people came and went. Their lives crossing with others for a few minutes and then going on their merry way. I wonder if they would recognise anyone that they saw in here! Would they recognise Costa's Baristas? Would they recognise the people they queued next to?! Would they recognise me?! That girl they nearly all bumped into! I wonder!

Oh, I forgot to mention....

"46 year old female, having a seizure, in Costa coffee"

I was at work! This woman's seizure wasn't going to stop itself. It was a very violent fit, you know, the full body shaking one's you see on TV! All my bags were open, and adding to the coffee shop symphony was the hiss of the oxygen cylinder, the beep of the Lifepack and the hum of the blood pressure cuff. Amongst the madness was me, cannulating and giving drugs and generally getting in the way! 

Is it weird that life goes on around us?! Sure, people looked up and shared a glance but generally, a woman having a massive, life threatening seizure was just an inconvenience to most. After all, we have routines, targets and deadlines to meet. Do you think any of the people who bumped into me or stepped over my patient and my bags will get home 9 hours later and think 'I wonder if that woman is ok'?! Do you think they will even remember it?! 

For the record, she died that afternoon. And when we moved her out of the shop, still fitting, we blocked the road for 5 minutes. How many people do you think cursed us?! Probably all the ones beeping their horns.

Life must go on after all, mustn't it?


  1. sadly I would be surprised if many of them noticed what was happening. Not only do many walk around in their own little bubble but they are reluctant to help even if they notice an incident. Maybe thats why women being attacked are advised to shout fire rather than help

  2. My favourite answer to anyone we may be inconveniencing by doing our job is ' excuse me sir/ madam, you would not ask the fire brigade to move if they were putting out a fire, can you please show the same respect to someone treating a medical emergency'.

  3. It's honestly always amazing to me how pissed people get because you "Inconvenience" them while trying to save someones' life.
    Recently, we had close down the whole southbound side of the highway near me, because of a car crash, with extrication. Oh boy were people not happy when we started turning them around.

  4. I am horrified to read this post, how can something so life threatening to one person have no effect on those in the vicinity? These customers should hang their heads in shame!

  5. Wow... Although as a member if the public I'm not sure what to do if I saw you working, except leave you alone and leg it in the other direction!

  6. I can remember walking through the hospital after Rich died. I'd come out of the room I'd identified him in, and was coming past the coffee shop, full of busy people, and I can remember thinking "How is all of this going on? How is life still going on around me? Don't they know he's dead?"

    Obviously they didn't, and there was no reason why they should have, and indeed life has gone on. But at the time it felt like it just simply couldn't carry on in the same way.

    Glad to see you back, by the way.

  7. That is mental! If I was a member of staff in that shop, I wouldn't have felt comfortable continuing to serve with that going on! Gosh, some people are just idiots.

  8. Do you guys get to see therapists for all the stress you undergo in general let alone instances like these?

  9. How I seethed when I got to the part where you were said you were on a job. Slipknot had it right when they said people=shit.

    Not all of them by any means, but the ones who are shitheads do such a sterling job of it they seem to temporarily erase all memories of good people. I hope the fuckers choked on their soy venti latte or whatever other shite they were buying.

  10. Wow. First time I've read your blog and that was an intense, thoughtful, read. Thanks for posting it. It's made me stop and think.

  11. So many people these day are only interested in their own lives and petty problems. Anybody else's life is an inconvenience. Such as the older man struck by a car and laid dying in the intersection. Countless vehicles passed before aid was offered. It is a sad world we live in at times.

  12. Hi Ella, love your writing - it is insightful, witty and thought provoking. Keep it up, I wish you posted more often. It's nice to know the job is the same around the world. I'm a paramedic from Queensland, Australia.
    I keep a blog as well but not ambulance related but it is my creative outlet.

  13. I'm from Australia, but yesterday when I was driving home I saw an Ambulance parked on the side of the busy highway with lights flashing. I know enough about ambulances to know that when one has stopped on the side of the road things aren't good. I just hoped that it was a baby being born. But, I have seen people do what you have done. I worked in hospitality and had a man fall down 12 steps while pissed, he was unconscious, bleeding everywhere and then happened to wet himself. In winter, while it was raining. The amount of people that complained that he was blocking the way when they were trying to get in for tea was amazing. Only one person stopped to ask if we needed help. Society has a lot to answer for.


  14. I think the problem with the world we live in is that there are far too many selfish fuckwits.

    That is unreal.

    Didn't anyone offer to help if only to keep people away?

  15. Very poignant indeed. Unless it affects them, it is just an inconvenience. I'll never forget being told to shhsh the defibrillator at a cardiac arrest during the Bingo. I'll also never forget the Traffic Warden asking me how long I thought I'd be whilst treating a faint/collapse in double yellows! To be fair he came back and apologised!

  16. that's agood article, thoughtful ! once you step out of the "normal" perceptions and actually observe and think, life can seem a little strange, that's because it is strange :o)

  17. That poor lady :-( We had to block a small road off once in order to assist another crew with spinal-boarding a patient. I was nipping back to the bus to get some extra equipment when I saw a determined looking yoga-dressed lady driving her car over the patient's garden in order to get past and hopefully to her class on time. Thank God I've seen the A-Team a few times and managed to perform a stunt-woman style dive out of her way in time. Phew,I really hope she got to her class on time and that her yoga mat wasn't flea infested.

  18. you are avoiding putting two and two together about the futility of the ambulance/paramedical work you do!

    that you, what you do and what the world is are strange ! :o()

    you can delete this comment as well, but the reality is there and will grow on you ! :o)

  19. I wasn't there but my gut feeling is that the majority's dominant feeling wouldn't be one of inconvenience. And I think many would have thought about her all afternoon, the evening and possibly still now. It sounds like to me you've labelled everyone with a thick generalised brush because their emotions were hard to read. Did you expect them to form a greek chorus? I reckon the kept quiet because they recognised there was someone expert doing their job.

  20. Wow! Incredible. I have to say if I'd have been there I'd have been thinking about it all day. Sad times x

  21. Stories like this make me lose more and more faith in humanity. I bet some of these tutters would be the first ones screaming for attention if they felt even remotely unwell!

  22. It's truly shocking sometimes, particularly in the Big City how removed, isolated &...well, selfish people can be!

    As a 999 call-taker I cannot be alone in having taken calls from people like this:

    "This is the 3rd time I've called you, there's STILL 2 ambulances blocking my road - I'm now VERY late for work! I want these ambulances moved NOW!"

    Knowing that having 2 ambulances on scene - parked there for speed & ease of access rather than consideration of traffic, was not a good sign...
    A quick check confirmed my worst fears - infant in cardiac arrest.

    It had been a long and trying shift - I'm not proud to say that the "red-mist"descended on me...
    It was unprofessional, unauthorised, and border-line offensive - but trust me the caller was left in no doubt as to what I thought of him...
    And I didn't even get to the issue of taking 3 EMDs away from taking emergency calls, due to the relatively minor offence of making him slightly late for work....

  23. I think I just lost my faith in humanity. That's so sad. Unfortunately, I am determined to join the police force and will probably encounter similar things. The majority of people genuinely don't seem to give a toss, especially if it doesn't affect them in any way.


I love comments! All bloggers do! If you have something to say, agree or disagree I would love to hear it! I will reply to all! (or try my very best!) If however, you're a troll, save your breath!

Due to an increase in spam I moderate comments but ALL genuine comments will be posted. See above exclusions!