Just about to take another bite of my sandwich and the radio tones sound. Control calls us immediately to inform us of an Echo call (code 9) the other side of the city. Someone’s baby has ‘ineffective breathing’.
In seconds we’re both in the cab of the Ambulance, quick look at the address. “I know roughly where this is, but you’ll have to guide me in to the street” I say to my crew mate.
“No problem”, he starts writing paediatric resuscitation drug doses on his glove to save time when we’re there.
Blue lights on. Look right. Look left. Right again. Sirens on and we’re away.
Traffic is bad and there’s a narrow bridge to negotiate. I change the siren tone to a more urgent sounding tone and squeeze through the small gaps people are desperately creating for me.
Once car doesn’t move. He hasn’t heard or seen me. Why not?! I’m 2 feet away from him, bright yellow ambulance with blue lights and loud sirens and still he has no clue I’m there. I blast the bull horn and he eventually realises and moves.
Onwards, weaving, ducking and diving through traffic. I’m on the wrong side of the road, making myself as big as possible. “Dominate the road” I hear my driving instructors voice like Obi Wan Kenobi.
I drive at people until they pull over, all the while making sure I have an escape plan incase they don’t feel like giving way to an ambulance.
Someone’s baby isn’t breathing – I put it out of my mind while I concentrate on getting us there safely.
Change the tone again, 30mph, 35, 40, 45. These trucks weigh more than 5 tons, but I red line it getting every inch of power from the now screaming engine. Brake hard for a red light, change tones and creep through. I make eye contact with the pedestrian waiting to cross, letting him know that I’m not stopping. I thank him and head on.
Change tones, a nice clear section of road, 45 now but hard on the brakes for someone pulling out in the distance, they pull in immediately. No place for road rage here, just push on to the address.
Once more, along a busy high street. 25mph tops. Lady with a pram, will she cross? She doesn’t. Man on a bicycle, he hops onto the curb. Parked cars left and right, it’s the school holidays, will a child run out between them? Will someone open a car door? Has this car ahead heard me? Change tones again and keep pushing through.
Hard on the brakes again as a pedestrian decides to run across the road, trying to beat me. I come almost to a stop, take a breath, head on.
Change tones and onto a fast bit of road I know well, sweeping right hander until a set of traffic lights. Hard on the brakes and change the tones, creep creep creep, have they all seen me? I look for little signals. Brake lights, indicators, twitching to the left. They’ve all seen me, change tones and squeeze through the narrow gap where a car has stopped next to a bollard – I’m amazed at some of the gaps I get these trucks through.
Almost there now. Full throttle. “Next left, then immediately left again” My crew mate instructs.
“Roger, cheers”. Left turn, it’s narrow and there’s a car parked on double yellows making it a tight squeeze.
Sirens off and look for the house. “THERE!” All stop. I have to block the road – it doesn’t matter, I have no choice. Quick look, we’ve done it in 6 minutes!
Leave the blue lights on as we grab our kit and head to the house.
A lady meets us at the door holding a smiling baby that reaches out for my nose and giggles.
“It’s this little one, she’s had a cough for a week now…..”
It’s hard to explain the euphoria that passes over you when something is ‘not as given’.
This wasn’t about one particular incident, just the sort of thing that frequently occurs.
*Inspiration taken from another blog ‘Blood Sweat and Tea’*