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Off Duty

Image by Dplanet on Flickr

Image by Dplanet on Flickr

On my way to work one day I approached a busy junction. I could see that the lights weren’t working so I stopped and pulled on the handbrake. I noticed with horror that a motorcyclist and car approaching the junction from different roads were on a course for collision. As the vehicles impacted, suddenly the body of the motorcyclist was catapulted through the air like a rag doll and landed hard on the road in front of my car.

Forgetting I was in my own car I instinctively I reached for the radio to call the control room, then remembering myself I switched off the car engine and pulled my Hi-Viz coat from the passenger seat. I grabbed my paramedic bag from the boot and made my way to where the body lay. In my mind I was convinced that I had just seen someone killed – so I was very surprised to see the ’body’ start to move. I was grateful that at least she was conscious and breathing. I told her to lay still and knelt at her head and held it still to keep her from moving and possibly damaging her neck further.

At this time I remember someone approaching me. They told me that they had called an ambulance; and so I waited for it to arrive and in the meantime I tried to comfort my patient – it felt like an eternity.

The next thing that happened was a milkman parked up his float and marched over to me. He then started to yell and swear at me, blaming me for the fact that the lights hadn’t been working for two days. He shouted in my face telling me to get ‘her ‘out of the road and out of the way. I asked him, fairly politely, to go about his business and crossed my fingers that help would soon arrive. Things were getting rapidly out of hand!

Luckily, a couple of off-duty police officers passed by and stopped to help with the traffic  – little did they know at the time that my patient was in fact one of their colleagues on her way home from work. Their presence at least had the beneficial effect of making the horrible shouting milkman leave us in peace!

Next an off-duty paramedic stopped and together we safely removed her helmet (the removal of a crash helmet in this situation requires two people and special training so as not to cause any further damage to the spine). We then checked her over to determine her injuries.

When the ambulance arrived we all worked together. We placed a stiff neck collar on her and moved her on to the back of the ambulance using a spinal board, then gave her pain-killers to help her cope with her injuries.

Amazingly despite her flight through the air, it transpired that she had only sustained a very severe fracture of one of her lower legs (I found out afterwards that she went to theatre for pins and plates to be fixed to the broken bones while they healed).

This experience brought home to me how very different actually witnessing an accident is compared to arriving in an ambulance some minutes after the event; and while the actions of the milkman saddened me it was reassuring to see that even when off-duty you can always rely on the emergency service to stop and help when they can!

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