“Its Just Around The Corner…Honest!”

March 28, 2007


Ice Climbing…

Well my few days away in the Yorkshire Dales were quite a welcome escape from the dross and crap thats going on everywhere else in the City/County/Country/World.

Unfortunately, by the time I got there, most of the snow had gone and the waterfall at Gordale Scar was free flowing. The only ice was covering the hand and foot holds on the climb up (which made for an interesting vertical version of “Twister”) So It was just a case of having a bimble around doing some walking.

By the time we had climbed up the waterfall and got to the top of the scar it was getting quite warm. Or we were getting warm after the exertion of skidding about and trying not to fall off! The sky was a brilliant blue and the air was fresh and cold with a visibility in excess of twenty miles. Time for lots of pics and a brew and a big chunk of nutty.

We spent more time than we had anticipated as we investigated the “Roman Camp”on the path towards Kilnsey Crag. A very pleasant bimble which sharpened my appetite for the evening meal of steak & mushroom pie (home made and Desparate Dan Cowpie in size) and copious amounts of Murphys stout (purely medicinal reasons honest.)

The next day we drove west and walked up a hill called Ingleborough which was, if you,ll pardon my loose old English description, “a right ****ing bastard!” This particular hill has false summits and the top was shrouded in mist so the walk turned into a trudge. It just seemed never ending! The walk back down was marginally better but next day my legs, back, feet, shoulders and everything attached to me just ached. It ached worse than a big bag full of aching things that had just been voted the worst aching thing in the universe. (Slight exaggeration)

Anyway, back to work now and I will look forward to next winter though this time I want to go further north to get some winter climbing in.

Many Are Cold, Few Are Frozen……

March 18, 2007



Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

With the impending approach of a last ditch attempt at having a half decent winter, I am off to the Yorkshire Dales for a spot of fun-filled, frosty frolicking in the great outdoors.

I like snow…I like ice…I like blizzards…I like “white out” conditions. Its the best thing to get the adrenalinepumping and it really concentrates the mind as you have to rely on your wits, experience, equipment and your resolve.

A couple of years ago I was on the summit of Helvellyn in the Lake District on a bright winters day, when it suddenly became very dark and the mountain became lost in a ferocious snowstorm. At one point you could not see your hand in front of your face. Really frightening “whiteout”conditions. But what was more frightening was the amount of people on the summit not equipped properly and lacking in experience. My wife, who is an accomplished “crag rat”and was a mountain goat in a previous existence, and myself led 8 people off the summit before they became casualties.

I enjoy winter walking and climbing, but apart from Scotland, winters are getting less severe by the year. Its been some years now since I last “ice climbed”  and my 12 point crampons and technical ice axe are starting to rust! So its off to the Yorkshire Dales for a few days to pit myself against mother nature. No really big hills to tax me, but I,m hoping that the waterfall at Gordale Scar will be interesting enough to climb up.


Operation Womble….”the cleanup!”

March 14, 2007


The front door looked like it had seen better days. It stood between us and the reason for our being there. A solid looking brown, battered barrier with the remains of a door bell hanging from its centre. This was not going to be a three tap knock…this was going to be the big hello from the teams battering ram named “Avon” after the famous door sellers of yesteryear.

The unit took up positions either side of the door, others were around the back to prevent any escape from this council house on this estate in this town. The same sort of council house on any estate in any town in the U.K. Rubbish littered the sorry excuse for a garden. Some would have tried to pass it off as Chav art, whilst most saw it for what it was…a shit tip!

A quick check on equipment and comms was followed by the signal to “open” the door. A silent countdown was given…a black gloved hand curled down its fingers until no more could be seen…the door shuddered with a resounding boom and a splintering crack as the iron battering ram smashed into the lock. The early morning peace was gone, shattered by the three blows it took to dislodge the door from its frame.

“Go, Go, Go!”  earpieces came alive with the command to get into the house and dominate it from the outset. Figures in black, armed with batons and large powerful torches, rushed into the hallway. Two ran up the stairs three steps at a time, another two headed for the living room directly in front whilst a further two shadowy figures dived into the kitchen to the left of the hallway.

Shouts of “Room clear!” resounded around the house. The team gathered downstairs and collected their thoughts as they looked around them. It was a mess, a hovel, a chaotic pretense at being a home. Everywhere empty bottles of cider and Lambrini struggled for space against the masses of half eaten take away cartons and discarded cigarette ends. The shit tip of a garden looked better than the inside of this once habitable abode.

Our reason for being there….was not there! “Bollocks!”…Shuggsie, the newest member of the team, muttered beneath his nomex fire retardant balaclava. I make a mental note to have a word at the de-brief with Shuggsie to tell him not to put his balaclava on back to front next time! A more dependable team member you could not find…but he was also thick!

“So wheres the little shit gone?” piped up Fingers, so called after an unfortunate accident with a tin of Spam and those fiddly key things. We looked around and soon found the incriminating evidence that had brought us here. “Sat Navs”…stolen from so many ambulances within this area. Also found was a green Paramedic bag, snatched from the back of a vehicle whilst the crew attended a patient with chest pains. Other various items that had been nicked from ambulances turned up behind the sofa. 


“Right. If hes not here lets wreck the joint and teach the scumbag a lesson!” We all look around again… trying to find something to smash…but how can we make this place any worse than what it already is? I walk over to the 42″ wide screen plasma t.v. with Dolby surround sound, the only piece of kit in good order. A devilish thought crosses my mind. I turn on the t.v. and pump up the volume to an ear shattering crescendo and then adjust the brightness and contrast to its minimum. I then turn off the t.v. leaving it on standby.

With our quarry missing and the chance for violent retribution against some Chav pondscum, we file out of the house and disappear into the side streets making our way to the “Paraffin Parrot” for the debrief. Looks like we will have to make do with a training session at the local fleapit and watch “Hot Fuzz”….again! Shuggsie is going to open the fire exit door round the back of the cinema to let us in without paying!  

“SWAB Team 6” were back…and looking for Chavs…”Its What We Do!”

Ambulance Service Abuse…!!!

March 10, 2007


Paramedic Motorcycle Unit 

The United Kingdom Ambulance Services are receiving, on average, an increase in calls of 6% year on year. This is due in part to the GP Out of Hours call system where we are being called upon by patients who cannot contact their GP. The Ambulance Service in this country has transformed over the years from a “transport” medium to a professional organisation in its own right. To some extent I think we are a victim of our own success as we take on more and more roles and responsibilities.

But, and I think this is more important, the general public need educating about the 999 system and some sort of fiscal penalty be put in place for the obvious abusers of the service. I have attended many calls where the caller has apologised for ringing us but they did not know what to do….a call “with good intent” is fair enough. Its the drink related calls and the blindingly obvious piss takes that annoy me. For instance…being called to a middle aged woman with “head pain”  who upon our arrival stated that she only wanted us to …”open the aspirin bottle as she could not do it!” (child proof top!)

Our colleagues in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service have reported the problems of inappropriate calls numerous times as has happened nationwide…and yet it still goes on! A news report highlights the problem with a video and actual recording of some of the types of calls experienced in Yorkshire.

Ask any member of the Ambulance Service in the U.K. (and probably Worldwide) what daft calls they have been to and you will hear things that will make you believe in bringing back the stocks and/or the birch! Such as the lady who dialled 999 as she could not reach her remote control for the T.V. or the man who wanted a light bulb changing, the man who wanted his trousers pulling up, the woman who dialled 999 as she was late for a dental appointment, the man who called for an ambulance as he had missed his train and he pays his taxes!!! The list goes on and on!!!

See and listen to some actual calls from “reasonably average intelligent adults?”

Actions Rather Than Words…!

March 5, 2007



Went to a nursing home, one of the better ones for a change, to see a lady in her eighties who was experiencing breathing problems. Once we were shown to her room it was easy to hear her chest as the noise was reverberating down the corridor!

She was hot and had a productive cough with plenty of green sputum saved in bowls and tissue by the nursing staff to show us. Thanks!I think it was pretty safe to say that she had a chest infection. We put her on some oxygen and placed her on the monitor and did some base line obs…resps, pulse, ECG, BP, O2 sats, GCS, BM etc.

She was struggling to breath so we replaced the oxygen mask with a nebuliser and administered Salbutamol. Within minutes her breathing settled down and she could talk with us although still not in full sentences. The nursing home sister on night duty gave us copies of the patients notes and list of medications as we carefully placed her on our carry chair and took her out to the vehicle.


Once we had settled the patient onto our stretcher she piped up…”wheres me teef?”…and before we could answer…”and wheres me readers?”. I jumped off the vehicle and              caught the sister before she went back into the home and asked about the patients             teeth and glasses. She turned round and asked one of the night staff to go to the patients  room and fetch her teeth and her glasses. This took two or three goes as the member of    staff was foreign and so his first tongue was not English.                                                           

And so we waited…and waited…and we waited a bit more. Eventually the member of staff came into view…with a tray…holding a cup of tea and a couple of empty glasses! The sister went purple…then red…then blue…then a sort of incandescent shade of pink! I thought her head was going to explode but she remained tight lipped and bit her tongue as she tried to formulate words to express her dismay. I quickly stepped in and using a combination of pointing to eyes and mouth and drawing pictures in the air I sent the member of staff back to fetch the patients false teeth and reading glasses.                 


I was really trying very hard not to piss myself laughing!




Slipping Through The Net…!!!

March 5, 2007


As we approached the scene we turned off the “Blues & Twos” and pulled up outside a council house on Big City estate. The estate had seen better times, it had been full of community spirit when first built in the early fifties and sixties. People used to take pride in their homes and look out for each other. Now people kept themselves to themselves and every other garden boasted the very latest in must have bespoke garden furniture such as a fridge lying on its side with its door wide open, various items of smashed wood and the odd shell of a car. Nice!

Outside the address a police officer waited for us standing next to the front door. The bottom panel had been kicked in to allow the officer to gain entry. The police had been called by a neighbour who said the elderly woman who lived at the address had not been seen for a long time, a matter of weeks if not months. By the look of the outside of the house everything looked normal…normal for this estate anyway.

Walking down the path towards the officer my crew-mate and I both noticed the curtains at the front window. What we thought of as patterns at first was in fact shredded material. The curtains were ragged and torn and a dark grey in colour. Nearing the front door we caught the first whiff of warm, acrid air as it made its escape from the house. One of the few times that I wish I had a cold!

The police officer quickly explained that inside the house he had found the woman…on the floor…if not dead…very unconscious. He told us to expect a sorry sight! With trepidation we filed into the hallway, bare floor boards were covered with newspaper and torn clothes along with empty tins of cat food…a lot of empty tins!

To the left was the living room door and we pushed it open and stepped into another dimension. Everything was black…the walls, the ceiling and the carpet. Not much furniture was evident and we located the woman in the middle on the floor. At first glance she appeared to not be moving then as we got closer there was an almost imperceptible rise of the chest. She lay there on her back, naked but for an orange nylon shirt. She appeared to be in her eighties…emaciated…her skin hanging from her bones…her grey hair was a mash of tangles and something else that we could not tell.

Again her chest rose ever so slightly. Her mouth was open, skin stretched tight over her jaw. Her eyes closed and almost lost in their sunken sockets. My eyes were adjusting to the darkness and then I realised what else was in her hair…faeces. She was covered from head to toe in her own mess. I felt for a pulse and found a weak, feeble output at her tiny, thin wrist. My crew-mate went for the carry chair and I cracked open the oxygen bottle and placed the O2 mask on her gaunt face.

The  smell was overpowering and I swear that if I had got a knife I could have sliced out a section of the pungent aroma that hung in the air everywhere. Then out of the corner of my eye I caught some movement…a solitary shape scurried past me hissing and spitting. Then another shape appeared on the other side of the room its eyes scanning me, weighing me up. A noise came from behind me, a rustle of paper and a high pitched whine. I turned around to ask the police officer if he had seen anything…he was not there. A sudden chill ran down my spine.

I tried to walk over to the doorway to look for my crew-mate…my legs were leaden, straining to move as if in some form of “Night Terrors”. Looking down at the carpet I realised why my boots were all of a sudden heavier…it was not a carpet I was standing on… it was cat faeces…about an inch thick if not more. It was everywhere. I then saw the condition of the furniture…it was totally shredded like the curtains. Looking around the semi-darkness of the room I counted fifteen pairs of eyes staring at me! Where was my crew-mate? Now was not the time to develop a phobia of cats!

Eventually we got the woman out of the house and into the back of the vehicle where we could assess her properly. Her pulse was weak and slowing, her resps short and infrequent, her blood pressure unrecordable. She was poorly, very poorly. We had her swathed in blankets after assisting her resps with our bag & mask and getting a line into a vein we started to push fluids in. Within five minutes she responded with a low groan, her pulse picking up to a respectable 70 beats a minute and her resps becoming more normal. Her blood pressure came upto 65/40. Our O2 sats probe could not go on her finger as her nails had grown a good three inches plus and had started to curl under themselves!

We put in an alert call for A/E to stand by and we left the house behind for the officer to secure, not that anyone would want to break in, and if they did the cats would probably have them for their next meal!

The woman eventually succumbed to her condition and died a week later. How this woman was able to get to such a state in the first place would be the subject of many reports for social services. She had been a fiercely proud and independent woman who shunned all offers of help over the years. Her only friends were her cats who must have been the only witnesses to her plight for the days, if not weeks of her suffering.


Why Is This Happening…?

March 1, 2007


Who Protects the Protectors…?

Looking at blogs from colleagues in the Police it seems as if this country of ours is going into a rapid terminal dive into the abyss. But what has caught my attention is this post from Inspector Gadget. How some of the judiciary can sleep at night I will never know.

A quick look at PC SouthWests blog shows us what has happened to common sense. It can only get better…cant it?