Health Magazine

‘I’m Bored…’

By Ambogirl @ambogirl1

It appears we will never learn. Muttering certain words or phrases during our shift is guaranteed to result in not only a barrage of abuse from our colleagues but an immediate paging of our radios for the next job. This especially includes mentioning in any sentence the fateful word ‘quiet’. For example; ‘It hasn’t been this quiet in ages’, ‘I’m tired, so glad we’re quiet today’ and, ‘I don’t like it when it’s this quiet’. You get the idea. In fact it’s even called the ‘q word’ because we are too afraid to say it these days. When I am asked by patients, relatives or hospital staff if we have been busy, my stock answer is ‘Oh, ticking over’. This covers anything from; this is only our first job of the shift, to actually ticking over nicely, or ‘kept going’. This is simply to avoid all hell breaking loose. Of course, if we are busy it’s perfectly fine to admit ‘We haven’t stopped’. Probably in the hope that this will also have the opposite effect and we will suddenly be given a reprieve. Chance would be a fine thing!

Similarly, we must avoid words like ‘slow’ and ‘easy’. Oh, and never mention that you haven’t had a particular type of job for a while. That’s just asking for trouble. Whilst I was a trainee technician and very keen to complete my portfolio, I’d often wish out loud for; a childbirth, an RTC, a serious trauma, even a cardiac arrest. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t wishing the above on any poor soul. Even childbirth, as this is far more favourable in a nice clean, warm hospital, full of midwives and doctors, and lots of available medical equipment and drugs, rather than in the back of an ambulance. But these things unfortunately do happen, and I wanted to be there for them, both to help and to learn and gain valuable experience. My experienced paramedic crewmates however, would glare at me for even mentioning it, knowing full well I was sentencing us to just that very job, and they, quite frankly, had seen enough of them!

These days, although qualified, I’m still relatively new and pretty keen but considerably more wary. Be careful what you wish for, they say, and it couldn’t be more true. I have discovered another unmentionable phrase, for me at least anyway, and I don’t have to actually be on duty either. It is – ‘I’m bored’ and seems to trigger not just a job, but the kind of job you wouldn’t wish for, no matter what. The type of job you never want to experience.

The first time I said it I was working a day shift, it was early evening and we were on standby in the town centre. I quite enjoy people watching, and as each person began returning home from their working day or their shopping trip, I turned my attention to the swirling autumn leaves. It was shortly after I spoke those momentous words that our screen and radios came alive. Someone had been stabbed, they were reportedly not conscious, they were not breathing and they were at least 15 mins blue light drive away. Sadly, our efforts were in vain.

The second time was much more recently. I was actually home on a rest day and was thinking that I’d rather be in work. I muttered to myself how bored I was, despite having earlier tackled the back garden in preparation for winter. Shortly after, I received a phone call from work. Could I come into work to cover an ongoing incident? I immediately realised what this meant, as every news channel was reporting on the four miners trapped in a colliery in south Wales. Extra manpower was needed to be on site and also to maintain service in the surrounding areas. I was to report to the local ambulance station and would be driven directly to the site to take over from colleagues. After spending twelve hours waiting, quite literally at the colliery entrance, ready to provide any medical assistance required to both rescued miners and members of the Mines Rescue team if necessary, I handed over my radio to the colleague relieving me, the rescue operation still under way, aware that the first body had been found.

Although I never had to use my medical skills during the shift, the experience will stay with me forever. The sight of the Mines Rescue team relentlessly disappearing down the mine entrance time and time again, blackened faces with looks of determination and resolve etched on those faces. The other rescue teams all playing their part. Food provided by local shops and well-wishers. The media camped further down the road, eagerly awaiting an update, some good news. And unforgettably, meeting one of the survivors, who had returned to the scene, wanting to provide any help he could. He blurted out his harrowing story to us, clearly devastated and traumatised. I went home, tired and sad but hopeful and managed to sleep for a short while. I awoke to the news that we all dreaded, two further bodies had been found. Watching helplessly I wished I was back there, assisting in any way possible. Then, just after 6pm, all hope was lost….

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