Lysa Roma1

One Under

Piccadilly line train, by markhillary, on Flickr

Piccadilly line train, by markhillary, on Flickr

A bit of a change

Over the next few of weeks I will be posting about some calls I have been to where people have either behaved inappropriately or seemingly called the ambulance service inappropriately.  I fully acknowledge that sometimes people react out of panic, and sometimes people do things because they are stressed. However, I would never dream of talking to a member of the uniformed services the way that some people talk to me. And sometimes, just sometimes, I just do not understand some people’s thought processes, and I believe I can normally take a fairly reasoned view of these situations.  I would love to hear what you think of these stories – please write a comment at the bottom of the post.

What is a ‘One Under’?

I got a call to a ‘One under’ while I was driving back from a hospital that isn’t on my usual list of haunts. A ‘one under’ refers to a person who has ended up underneath a train or tube. Sometimes this is a person attempting suicide, sometimes it is an accident and sometimes they have been pushed in front of the train.

This particular ‘one under’ had got himself under a train at a station that I wasn’t familiar with; and  in fact I was less than a minute away – that means less than a minute to prepare myself psychologically and practically for what I will see and what I must do on arrival.

I arrived before any of the other emergency services and therefore needed to take in more kit than I could easily carry; however it is important to be prepared, so I hooked bags from anywhere I could and locked the car. Hoping I had parked at the nearest possible spot to where I would be required (thus reducing the distance I would have to carry my own body weight in baggage) I headed towards an exit where passengers were pouring from a platform.

“Hi, has there been an incident?” I asked the first man who made eye contact with me.

“Yeah – someone’s jumped in front of the train haven’t they” he stated in a very off hand manner.

“Is this the best entrance for me to use?” I asked him – desperate to walk no further with my heavy load than necessary.

“Do I look like a person who has been put here to tell YOU how to do your job?” He replied cockily and then turned and hurried away.


I have got to admit, right at that moment I was momentarily rendered speechless by the ignorance of his answer but before I could construct a professional and modified response (rather than a knee jerk response that may have cost me my livelihood), another female passenger confirmed that I was in the right place. I quickly moved on to get to the patient. Unfortunately he was beyond our help and was declared dead at the scene. Few of us, thankfully, will ever be able to imagine the emotions that motivated this depressed young man to end his life in such a violent way.

Am I naive to be surprised by the passenger’s reaction? His indifference to the suffering of another human being is hard for me to understand. In my experience I have usually found bystanders very public spirited so this man’s behaviour disappointed me greatly. I guess on the odd occasion when an individual’s conduct falls short of our expectations it is easy to forget that the vast majority are helpful and good natured beings.

Poignantly, while we waited for the track to be made safe for us to go down and access his body, his mobile phone rang constantly, maybe forty times or so; someone already knew that something was dreadfully wrong.

Your thoughts?

What do you think of this story? Was this man’s behaviour appropriate, or should we all expect not to be spoken to in such a way? Leave me a comment and let me know.


No Responses to One Under

  1. steveg says:

    Some people are downright rude and obnoxious. I am not surprised, I have heard many similar stories from my friends who are paramedics and technicians

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