Crash Test Dummies…!

February 24, 2008

 Whos the Dummy?


There is an organisation revolving around a website called the “Darwin Awards“. This site has compiled a list, nay, a veritable library of stupid things that people have done to get them selves killed. It is amazing the things that have happened around the world that have brought about the demise of some one through acts of sheer lunacy stemming from a conspicuous lack of brain cells!

And so I bring you dear readers, to the tale of a recent “Darwin Award” hopeful.

The scene: …… its night time with the moon hidden behind shifting clouds, cold with a south easterly wind that bites into your skin. The location is a field, hard ground under foot shadowed by trees on three sides and edged at one end by the encroaching council estate.     

The truck is left at the road side with “Blues” still running. Our caller has met us at the edge of the field and quickly explains that he has found a couple of lads injured after coming off their trials motor bike. All I can see, as I look towards where our caller is gesturing, is dark. Just dark, dark outlines of trees in the far off distance with dark in the fore ground. Even the dull orange glow from the estates sodium street lights and the sparkling, spangling blue strobes from our truck make no impact on the dark. It is darker than a witches tit!

“How far in the field are they?” I asked hoping that they were nearer to us than could be seen. “Not far…about a couple of hundred yards” our caller informs us. Taking the resus bag and the trauma bag we head off into the great unknown after being told that both lads were conscious but in pain. Using my mag-lite we carefully wend our merry way across the ruts and muddy puddles breaking the ice on numerous pools.

After a couple of minutes our caller gives us an update on his calculated distance…..”I think it might be a bit further than I thought!” Marvellous! Every now and then I look behind me to make sure the truck is still there and that the local tribes have not broken into it/nicked the wheels/set fire to it or stolen it! (The estate we are near to is used for Army Training prior to deployment over seas.)


Eventually after a trek of almost one K, we arrive at the scene proper. Lying not too far away from the battered remains of a large off road motor bike, are two young lads. Both are cold and both are hurting. Good signs for us….if they are complaining then they are breathing and conscious. One lad, the pillion passenger, has pain in his lower leg but no where else. The other lad is slumped across his mate holding a rag against his head with one arm while his other arm looks decidedly limp and strangely angled.

The history: ….after knocking back more than a few sherbets the two lads decide to take the bike for a night time ride across the fields….with no lights on!….and no proper bike clothing or even winter gear!!!…and….No HELMETS!!! After tearing around the field for a while they headed into the darker recesses and opened the throttle up. At approximately 40mph the bike suddenly stopped! The reason it suddenly stopped?……the great big steel fence that stood in their way!


The Police had arrived on scene and I had called for another crew to assist. Taking a quick look at the riders head injury I saw that he had opened his head down to the bone in good style. Once we had the equipment with us we collared and spine boarded our rider and checked him out in the back of the truck. Large open wound to skull down to the bone with both eyes starting to close (possibility of base of skull fracture), lip split in two, teeth shattered, hole in his chin and obvious fracture to his humerus (upper arm). There was a possibility that he had been unconscious at the time of the crash also.

I saw the x rays later and his skull was fine (no brain injury either – but thats debatable), but the fracture to his arm was a corker! He had the worst supracondlyer fracture I have seen in years….but amazingly he had no vascular or neurological deficit! A very lucky kid indeed! By rights he should have been dead, at the very least seriously injured if not paralysed!


He was very nearly a winner of the “Darwin Award!”

Top Secret….!!!

February 11, 2008

I was fortunate enough to be at the Edinburgh Tattoo in 2006. One of the best Tattoos ever! And I was fortunate to see the Top Secret Drummers who were simply brilliant! Stay with the video as some of the magical drumming comes midway. Runs to about five minutes in total.

Right I,m off to the local Music Shop to buy some

“sticks” and a set of “skins”

Ambulance Fashion…!

February 11, 2008
Smart Lad…

Many moons ago in the far off distant past, when daily Ambulance station duties included getting fresh hay for the horses, the subject of quality Ambulance uniform and especially appropriate footwear was never far from our lips.

I was issued with my first pair of black, lace up shoes with a shiny patent leather look in eighteen hundred and frozen to death. I was to transform from a fashionable man about town wearing platform shoes, 20″ Oxford “baggies“, large collared (think Harry Hill) shirt, 3 Star decorated jumper and yellow and purple coloured “Budgie” jacket. My fashion sense was awesome!

Ambulance Dress Uniform – Formal

Now I was kitted out in the kind of shoes that used to get kids beat up at school! My new attire was a dashing two piece tunic of blue with shiny silver buttons topped off with a peaked hat emblazoned with the County Ambulance Service badge of the time. Being ex forces I soon slashed my peak so it sat perched on the ridge of my nose, and shaped the top so that it sloped down both sides of my head. Looking back I must have looked like something off “On The Buses!”

For protection against the elements, and at RTAs, we were given a black knee length double breasted trench coat with waist belt. (This was followed shortly after with the issue of dark orange vests as worn by railway men due to the propensity of road staff becoming injured at night time.) A blue shirt was worn by us humble road staff and white shirts by Station Officers and the LAs (Leading Ambulancemen). A quantity of black neck ties were also issued (this is just shortly before the introduction of clip on ties).

PPE – Personal Protective Equipment
The “Flasher Mac”….

For obvious reasons we were forever getting confused with the Police as their uniform was very similar to ours. This made attending drink related incidents interesting if not sometimes dangerous. Trying to reason with a drunk intent on taking on the world that you are not the Police when all he can see in his befuddled state is a blue tunic and silver buttons is the legend of times past in mess rooms up and down the country.

Of course in those days the job was different to todays shenanigans. Clinical assessment was the “Three Ps”

  • Pick em      (from the floor/house/street)
  • Put em in   (into the truck)
  • Piss off!      (scoop & run to the nearest A/E)

Times have changed and the uniform now reflects our role on a more practical level. Non more so than that of the humble Ambulance foot wear. Over the years Ambulance staff have contributed to the design and development of a decent pair of “Dog Kickers.”  When the situation arises and the need dictates then there is no more satisfying sound than that of the “muffled tunk!” as steel toecap connects with canine rear!

Summer Dress Code – Light Order

The only down side to the new footwear is the tread….fine for the extra grip when trying to purchase a hold on the motorway embankment or making light work of the frozen footpath….but an absolute bugger for getting dog shit out of before going home!

Perhaps a University type bod out there may wish to take this up as a project. The design and development of the perfect Ambulance Boot (aka Dog Kickers) with the added bonus of easy clean tread! Can you guess what one of my most recent jobs involved?

German Para Boots…
Vorsprung Dog Kicknik

Urban Caving….!

February 7, 2008

Pulling up outside the address we hit the “at scene”button and de-bus.

Its warm, dusk is a few hours away yet and the sky is still clear. No rain or sleety snow for a change. The street is quiet, most people are still at work, no curtains are twitching as we make our way to the front door laden down with all our kit.

The outside of the house is in a bad state of repair. The window frames are all rotten and the paint has long faded into a dark crazy paving sort of colour. The front door is coloured brown….although a hint of what was once the colour white peeks out from beneath the grime. The frosted/glazed windows are not frosted/glazed windows….they are plain glass but obscured with dirt, muck, grime, dust and what appears to be the beginning of a new life form growing from the corners of the frames!

The call has come from a concerned neighbour who has not seen the occupant of the house for a couple of days. We knock on the door and look through the letter box….nothing heard, nothing seen. And nothing smelt apart from the usual fustiness expected in these situations. We try the door, it is not locked and after some encouragement from our shoulders the door opens….slightly, ever so slightly.

Through the small gap we manage to see into the hallway. Its a mess! Nothing unusual or wrong in that. But this is a mess that has been accumulated over many years. All we can see are bits of old television cabinets and bike frames intertwined with pieces of tubing, cables, brass horse shoes, walking sticks, clothing, cupboard doors, bin bags, shelving brackets, a hat stand…..and stacks and stacks of papers under the assorted junk, in the assorted junk, on top of the assorted junk, behind the junk and in front of the junk……

……All this was on the one wall that we could see through the gap in the door!  

We both push and heave against the door to try and move the mountain of crap that is barring our entry. Just enough space is made to squeeze into the hall way. There is no way we can bring our kit in….there is no room to turn around. The gap on the floor is only big enough to put one foot in front of the other in some sort of commando move. All around us from floor to ceiling we are surrounded, cocooned by junk and tangled mess! The ceiling is not even visible. Even though it is still daylight outside and the front door is partially open we cannot see further than a couple of feet into the hallway.

Stepping backwards and trying not to get snagged on the bits of junk that seem to be reaching out to stop us, we reverse out of the house. A quick look around the back of the house confirms that this is the only way in. We stow our kit back on the truck taking only the bag & mask and a torch with us. The neighbour has come out and explains that the gentleman who has not been seen is always coming and going from his house with parcels and bundles of stuff.

I toy with the idea of tying a rope around my waist before entering the house again….should I get lost then my crew-mate could pull me to safety. Squeezing through the gap again I switch on my torch and follow the tiny footpath on the floor to where I assume the stairs should be. Calling out every minute or so to the occupier that we are from the Ambulance Service also confirms to my crew-mate that I am still alive, that I am still trail blazing ahead.

My foot hits something solid on the floor….its the first step of the stairs. There appears to be no gap left or right of my tiny trail leading to any other rooms. Cautiously I ascend the stairs shining my mag-lite left, right, up, down in an attempt to make sense of my surroundings. It is bizarre….I am essentially caving/potholing in suburbia! My heart is beating faster and my senses are working overtime…big time! Every now and then my progress is halted as I have to stop and dis-entangle myself from either a snippet of barbed wire or collection of old door handles.

After what seemed like an age, I arrive (I think) at the top of the stairs. My back is aching from having to stoop beneath the overhanging debris and having to twist in an effort to avoid being snagged. I think I have travelled maybe 10 – 14 feet up the stairs. Every so often, I come across an empty Pot Noodle container or an empty Cuppa Soup placed within the walls of this tangled madness. I make a quick mental note to get some “Sweet & Sour Pot Noodles” for my pack up!

To my right I can just make out a door….leading into a bathroom. I peer into the room shining my torch all around. Again there is only a very small trail that leads to enough room to stand at the sink or stand at the toilet. Everywhere else in the bathroom is full. Full of junk, full of papers, full of wood, full of clothes….in fact it is full! Carefully I move backwards and guess that somewhere to my left must be a bedroom or two.

Using my torch to plan out my next steps I edge ninja like along the landing…..slowly. Suddenly it all goes dark! “Shit & bollocks!” My batteries have packed in! I cannot see a thing! Even my hand in front of my face! But I can still hear….and I can still smell….and I can still feel…..and…………….I can still sense! I know my crew-mate is only a matter of twenty or so feet away in the hallway but he might as well be twenty or so miles away! The hairs on the back of my neck are standing to attention!

Using my now defunct mag-lite, I tap along the junk walls and feel with my feet with my other arm outstretched to ward off any possible attack by a zombie, flesh eating, homicidal maniac. I make another mental note to stop watching horror films and watch Coronation Street instead! ………….“Crash!”  Part of the wall has come away and toppled behind me! I shout back to my crew-mate that I,m okay and I continue on my quest.


To my left, I catch sight of a chink of light from somewhere up ahead. I aim moth like towards this beacon and eventually find the bedroom door. Calling out again to any unsuspecting occupiers (or zombies) “Ambulance…is there any one there? I push the bedroom door open. Everything about this house is like being in a permanent state of tunnel vision. My peripheral vision is crowded with junk and directly in front of me at the end of my tiny trail……I find the gentleman to who we,ve being called.

Even in the dim light that is coming through the dirty black net curtains, I can see that he is dead. Lying on his back on his bed surrounded by junk. He is cyanosed and when I attempt to lift his arm he is unyielding due to the onset of rigor mortis. I call back to my crew-mate that the gentleman is “Purpleplus”.  Nothing can be done for him. All that remains for us to do is complete the “Diagnosis of Death” forms and other paperwork for the police and coroner.

Getting back out of the house is almost as difficult as getting in. And when I step outside I squint against the harsh daylight. Moments later the Police arrive and I jokingly advise them to dispense with their belt-kit and body armour before entering the house as they will become stuck and we will have to call the Fire Brigade to cut them out!

We call “Clear” on the radio and we are promptly returned to station for a welcome cup of tea! On the short journey back to base I wonder what would have happened if the gentleman had still being alive but unconscious? How the hell would we have got him out?