I’d put my name down to work at the Notting Hill Carnival a few weeks ago, well before the London riots hit the news. I usually enjoy working at these big events (you may know that I have also worked at the London Triathlon, the London Marathon and in the centre of town on New Year Eve). These are fabulous opportunities to meet up with ambulance staff from all over London, who I wouldn’t normally bump in to, as well as work closely with the other emergency services. We also end up taking the patients to hospitals outside of our usual patch, which makes a bit of a break from the routine. Following the press coverage of the chaos and disruption on the London streets during the recent riots, I briefly thought about pulling out, but am so pleased that I didn’t.
I was glad that Boris Johnson decided to go ahead with the carnival; I felt that it sent out a positive message to the world and supported the fact that the majority of revellers were simply decent people intending to have a good ole party!
Unlike last time, this year I was crewed with a student paramedic to work on an ambulance; last time I was based at a Treatment Centre. We collected all our kit and checked the ambulance over, then after being fed and watered along with thousands of police officers in the dinner hall of a local school, we took up our position on a side street close to the procession while we waited for the first patient of the day – as you might imagine with approximately 1 million visitors, we didn’t have to wait long – and once it started it was non-stop!
With a constant throng of carnival music as the backdrop we treated good natured folks with cuts, bruises and head injuries, most, but not all, had alcohol on board but remained in good spirits none the less. We took them to hospitals near to the event, some of which I had never visited before! For a south Londoner like me, being flung so far north made me feel a little disorientated at times – thank heavens for sat nav! It had been an exhausting shift, sleep was calling me and not a minute too soon, 16 hours after signing on, I was finally back home on south London soil where I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow!