Another weekend night shift…and another journey into the surreal world of drink, violence and total befuddlement of the masses! Only this night shift played out like a scene from a horror B movie. Let me sketch the outline for you…
In cities and towns up and down the length and breadth of Great Britain there is usually one main road, one street, one square that channels the hoards of drinkers and revellers into a selection of drinking emporiums and bars. One main meeting place where like-minded souls intent on alcohol induced oblivion come together.
Early into the shift we were on our third foray into the battle ground of ‘Bottle Street’ in the city centre. Turning into the street it looked like we had happened upon a ‘Majax’ (ambulance speak for a major accident). As far as the eye could see it was a mass of blue lights…ambulances and Police personnel carriers were parked in the road, on pavements and crawling slowly through the throng of short skirted women and T shirted males.
Our call was to a ‘female collapsed’ in the street. Eventually, after carefully negotiating staggering, swaying people and others oblivious to the big yellow truck with the flashing blue lights, we find our patient. She is laid on the pavement with her skirt around her waist, her hair slicked back with fresh vomit and black mascara covering her face like some sort of commando. Her friends are all busy on mobiles still swiggging from small bottles of gin or vodka.
‘Her drinks bin spiked mate!’ shouts one male friend into my ear. Looking at our patient and her friends I shudder…and pull my collar up further against the biting cold wind. The fashion seems to be minimal clothing, maximum alcohol and a distinct lack of common sense. ‘So how much has she had to drink?’ I ask her friends. I know the answer before it is even uttered….‘Shes only had a few!’ It’s always the same, just a few drinks…just a few in each pub…this is on top of the bottle of wine and / or bottle of spirits before leaving home!
We lift her onto the stretcher and place her into the truck. Pulse, BP, blood sugars and levels of consciousness are checked and then we motor off to A/E. Oh how the nurses are going to love us bringing in another drunk female…as if its our fault that she is drunk! We arrive at A/E and add our patient to all the other drink related cases queuing up on trolleys. After a brief catch up with colleagues and tidying the back of our truck we press ‘Clear’. Within seconds the MDT starts squawking and we are off again…back to the city centre and ‘Bottle Street’.
Once again we turn into the street, this time we are alone. No other blue lights can be seen and the masses seemed to have thinned out a little…not a lot but a little. And once again we find a ‘female collapsed’ ….what a surprise. And once again we pour her into the truck, do the baseline obs and prepare for egress to A/E. Only theres a problem….the back doors will not close on the ambulance!
Whilst my crew mate tends to our latest customer I try all manner of Jedi manoeuvres to release the door from the holding catch and to close it. Suddenly my mate calls out ‘Behind you!’ Turning quickly round I am confronted by the sight of a male covered in blood. Swaying unsteadily on his feet he tries to get past me and into the truck. ‘Whoa fella! Where you going then?’ Ignoring me he grabs the door and tries to haul himself in. Grabbing his hand I prise his fingers off the door and gently spin him round and push him away from the vehicle.
I now notice that the street has filled up again and a swarm of people seem to be making a bee line for us. Maybe they think we are a mobile discotheque with our blue flashing lights and the welcoming glow emanating from within the back of the truck. Like a scene from a zombie movie they move steadily and inexorably towards us. A shout goes up followed by the bump of a coppers helmet as it bounces across the road. Two coppers are engaged in a wrestling match with one of the zombies near to us.
‘Get the door f*****g shut and go!’ yells my mate. I pull at the door again and again whilst trying to fend off a couple of zombies muttering ‘Taxi…home…club…home…’ With one last heave I manage to release the back door by ripping off the retaining pin at the back. Slamming it shut I make my way to the cab and pull one of the zombies out who has managed to climb into the driver’s seat. He hits the deck in a drunken sprawl. Keys in ignition and hitting the central locking I fire the truck up and pull away at speed.
In the wing mirrors I see the receding figures of zombies, arms outstretched behind us. Another typical night shift ends with a change of truck at base after numerous door closing practice!