In The Thick Of It…!!!

April 10, 2008


As I’ve mentioned in previous posts I feel lucky that in my job I get to meet some pretty amazing characters who have contributed to this nations history. I came across an elderly gentleman the other day who had slipped out his chair at home. I was working a day shift on an RRV and was sent to assess him and stand the crew down if need be.

Not knowing the extent of inury, if any, I took the full kit and caboodle with me into the address. I was initially welcomed by his wife “Thank you Doctor for arriving so quickly!”  I explained that I was a Paramedic and I would check her husband and see what we could do for him. On being led into the living room I was introduced to “Harry” (name changed for confidentiality).

Harry was sat in his armchair and seemed uncomfortable. For someone who was approaching his 84th birthday he looked remarkably fit for his age. Harry cut to the chase and explained that he did not want to go to hospital and all that was wrong was his legs were getting more and more tired easily. A very active chap Harry still danced at the local City Hall and other venues on a weekly basis with his wife.

Medically wise he had no history of trauma or any pre-existing conditions. Apart from a history of “wear & tear” on his back from years of jumping out of planes! Harry explained that he was a former Paratrooper and had seen action during the Second World War. Recently he had been on a 12 hour coach trip which had played havoc with his circulation and caused pain and stiffness in his legs and joints. This he put down as to why his legs were getting tired and the reason he had slipped out of the chair.

After assessing Harry and taking the normal obs I had contacted control and stood the crew down and was advising Harry to be seen by his GP. In these situations I tend to contact the GP myself so I can pass on any observations or concerns first hand. It also ensures that the patient will not get fobbed off as so often happens. A home visit was arranged for around lunch time and whilst I completed the necessary paperwork to leave for the GP I was treated to a perfect cup of tea and some biscuits. (This was turning into a most pleasant shift!)

I asked Harry about his regiment and he went on to say how on D Day his company lost a third of its men and by the third day of the invasion there was only twelve of them left! He had been involved in bitter street fighting with the Germans as his unit had been deployed on the wrong side of the river near to their objective and so had found themselves “in the thick of it! ” Paratroops in the British Army were still relatively new and lots of experimental devices were used for transporting kit. Most of this was attached to the paratrooper whilst jumping. And most of it failed according to Harry!

Harrys wife was amazed at his openness of his exploits around D Day and she said that he had never talked about the war before. So I felt honoured that Harry trusted me to share in his memories. At times he was bitter in retelling some of the horrific events that he saw and even took part in. After the war he met his wife and settled down but kept active as much as possible. The few bad landings from his parachuting days had left him with back problems and limited mobility in his neck but he never let this stop him from doing anything.

Paperwork signed, kit collected and with a firm shake of Harrys hand I left him to await the GP. A very proud man was Harry…and it made me check myself that my life, my job and any problems I had were nothing in the great scheme of things. 

“What manner of men are these who wear the Red Beret?”