Every now and then in Public Services such as the Ambulance Service, the Police and the Fire Brigade there comes a job where patience is tested. It is not only tested but it is stretched. It is also dragged kicking and screaming away from your compassionate side. In short, patience gets a damn good kicking and suffers from severe bruising for a lonnnggggg time!
Now they do say that “Patience is a virtue”.Some people have more patience than others. For some it is none existent for any number of reasons which may stem from a sociological, psychological or pathological dislike or aversion to things not going their way. Patience is like common sense…it is hard to quantify and difficult to measure from one human being to another.
But in the Emergency Services we can call upon bucket loads of the stuff. Patience, having empathy, listening and a core belief in doing the best you can to help someone are all skills which are either inherent, taught or learnt through experience. It is the difference sometimes between life and death. That extra few seconds or minutes can help resolve a difficult situation…..When it is appropriate!
It is night time. Black skies filled with dark clouds shielding any light from the stars in the heavens.
It is late…or is it early? 2 o clock in the morning. I wish I was tucked up in my bed.
It is cold. No. Not cold, it is freezing! The icy grip of Jack Frost is taking hold of my bones and causing me to shiver.
It is wet. It is pouring down with icy rain. I can feel it finding its way between my jacket collar and my neck!
We had just arrived at an address in the city. Parking the truck behind the already on scene police car we gingerly alight from the cab trying to avoid the huge puddles of water with their usual assortment of used condoms, empty take away cartons and human waste. We walk over to the two police officers who stand there looking like two drowned rats!
The call has come in that a female has been assaulted. At the entrance to the address stands a door that has seen a lot of action recently. It resembles a patchwork quilt made of wood due to the many times it has been repaired through previous encounters with boots, bricks and the occasional Police door opener. There is just one door to this address, a converted building housing a collection of flats.
The Police have been talking to the woman on her mobile. She is inside the property. Her assailant has long gone. But she is not making a lot of sense. She cannot come to the door…is she injured?…is she afraid?…has she been locked in elsewhere in the flats?…No. A big fat double NO…with a generous helping of NO relish! She is drunk, mullered, hammered, rat arsed! This we know because this woman is one of our many frequent flyers!
We all stand around outside hunching our shoulders into our jackets trying to make ourselves a smaller target for the incessant rain that is lashing down upon us. All we want to do is get inside where it will be dry, and hopefully warm and sort out this situation. Its now been approximately ten minutes and we still maintain our professionalism and duty of care as we all know that one day one of the many frequent flyers will turn out to be a genuine call!
All the while I can hear the police officer talking to her and letting her know that we will be helping her shortly. Suddenly I catch the end of the conversation…but its not from the officers mobile…its from the other side of the front door! Tentatively I crouch down and peer through the letter box pushing my fingers through the bristles of the draught excluder. It is dark in the hallway but very soon I manage to see our caller…sat in a chair in front of a nice warm fire!
The chair is surrounded by empty cans of beer and pizza boxes.
We are now taking turns at shouting through the letter box to encourage her to open the front door. Each one of us employs a different tack to our requests. The casual laid back approach is a none starter. The logical reasoning and intelligent argument approach also falls on death ears. The urgent imploring and insistence on checking out her possible injuries meets with a garbled alcoholic response. Our last approach uses the age old technique of yelling as loudly as possible in an attempt to wake others in the flats. No effect……
I ask the police officers if they are Taser trained? I put forward the notion of firing a Taser through the letter box and hitting our caller then dragging her to the door! This idea is greeted with appreciative nods and momentary serious consideration. But we all know that it would not go down too well with our bosses. Oh well..just an idea.
Desperate times call for desperate measures and the Police officers bring out the big red door opener. One! Two! Three hits later and the door gives way…we are in!!! The darkness of the hallway is tinged with a warm reddy glow from the fire where our caller is sat. The water is cascading off our jackets as we shake the rain from us. Within an instant the warmth of the fire begins to dry our souls and the murderous adrenaline coursing through our veins is replaced with concern.
After a brief check of our caller for any injuries she may have sustained from the alleged assault over 10 hours ago I let the Police officers began their task of gaining the facts. She is not injured…she has not been assaulted…she has run out of credit on her mobile…she wants someone to contact Social Services so she can get a different flat!
Murderous thoughts once again replace the concern for our caller. We stand there in the semi gloom hovering over her. There is a glint in our eyes. It is that glint of primeval instinct, of dark thoughts, of murderous intention. Could we get away with disposing of the body? Would our unspoken thoughts secure a bond of silence and loyalty between us …?
We leave our caller with the fire keeping her warm. Only this time she will have a draught blowing in from the street through the remains of the front door! Between gritted teeth we bid our farewells and step back out into the dark, freezing rain lashed night. With a knowing nod we jump into our respective vehicles and drive off into the night…each one of us dwelling on the possibilities of murder………
We could have got rid of the body………..could,nt we?