Another Job

The sun is going down behind the horizon, thick clouds overhead. I can feel the first drops of rain.

My knees, my back are screaming in pain, but I can't move, I have to hold my patient's head still.

Blood runs from his head pooling beneath my boots mixing with the puddles from that afternoons rain. The blood is red but as twilight approaches it gets darker in colour before fading to a sticky black.

Beneath my hands the patient twitches, I wonder if it is because he is cold and drunk or if it is because of a serious head injury.

Not for the first time I wish for eyes that could peer into his skull to see the damage. Instead I stare at his face, his eyes closed only sometimes opening to my shouts of his name.

We enlist the help of bystanders to help roll his body onto the stretcher. We bind him to it using straps that were designed for other equipment.

We make do and mend.

Finally he is in the ambulance, on the stretcher he holds his arms in a position that I hope means that his brain is largely undamaged.

We head for the hospital, lights and sirens blazing, weaving through traffic. I keep looking at him, checking and rechecking to make sure that he hasn't taken a turn for the worse. I hold my breath that he doesn't start fitting.

At the hospital the resuscitation room is a place of noise and light, full of doctors and nurses and radiographers, all in lead aprons. They listen to me tell the story of the last hour of this man's life. Numbers roll from my mouth, the mechanism of the injury, my findings and things that I didn't find. They hear me hope that it is the alcohol causing this.

We go back to the ambulance, in the center of the floor is a perfect bootprint.


Formed from his blood.

41 thoughts on “Another Job”

  1. I've now read this post three times. Nowhere does it give the mechanism of injury, as Tom is a professional this is for reasons of confidentiality. Therefore, he is hoping that this is an alcohol related problem as this may mean that the patient's outcome might be better. This patient may well have been the innocent victim of a hit and run or an assault. We don't know.While I don't think that the errors made in WW1 should be forgotten, it was a long time ago and those who gave their lives did so with the best skills, knowledge and equipment that they had at the time. If you were to make a point about modern day warfare you would probably get (a bit) more support.

    You appear to have issues with people who drink; that's your opinion and you of course have the right to it. However, it doesn't mean that you can judge health care professionals who put their personal feelings aside and demonstrate a professional attitude in NOT judging the reason behind an injury, and treating ALL their patients with respect and with the same level of care. This post does not glamourise the role – it tells a sad tale of another working day.

    Perhaps you should reply to the people who have asked you questions to explain your viewpoint, and may I suggest that you structure the sentences and use grammar so that we understand the points you are making.

  2. tom is taking the shape of his life from other peoples bloodi think theres a difference between someone married and kids and someone who is not

    unmarried, no kids, life needs to take weight in a different way and tom has taken the wrong turning

  3. As always, I felt like I was on scene with you as I was reading that. The tension was obvious. I hope he'll be ok.

  4. This post punched me with my memories. Images I suppress. This story was my mother a few years ago. I'd never thought about her story from the perspective of the Ambulance crew. Or that it might be difficult emotions for them too. Or that they don't get any follow up. Nobody thought my mother would survive. Head injury – police already muttering “murder” on their radios. The ambulance were on the scene within maybe 5 minutes and that is a crucial part of the medical puzzle that saved her.I hope this gentlemen makes it. And I can say thank you. Ours was a case where you, and folk like you, made that huge and wonderful difference.

  5. *Cynical*”Excellent! I can go off the road to mop out the ambulance and get a cup of tea while I'm at it!”

    *End Cynical*

    Realistically? Not much, you just get on with doing the best job you can for people. Shift work can drain you of the emotions that you would think you'd get looking at something like that.

  6. Have to agree with Angus Prune, another damned fine piece of writing which gives an insight into your day without being overly dramatic but gets right to the truth of your job.

  7. When am I going to see a collection of short stories, or maybe a novel, for me to put in my Mobile Library? Think of the freedom this would afford you to say what you want. Blogs are only one way to communicate and whilst they are excellent at putting your thoughts and reflections 'out there' there are other ways to tell a 'story'. Just as the play told a certain kind of story in a certain way a novel or short story collection could address similar themes in greater detail. Promise me you'll consider it.

  8. you sweat over a drunk meeting an end his own fault and at periods during world war one train loads of young healthy repsonsible men where being taken to the front and 99% killedmaybe you didn't sweat

    you are really glamorising yourself and what you do with this sort of prose

  9. “We go back to the ambulance, in the center of the floor is a perfect bootprint.Mine.Formed from his blood. “The intertwining of lives……..

  10. really? i must of missed the part where tom professed himself a superhero for what he does..i think it was a fine representation of what happened, insightful of what it was like

  11. nah just a formula now and whats more he's too scared to write what he really thinks, didn't you spot the huge hunks left out? now they have put the bite on him he can't risk offending his ministry bosses

  12. the one real thing which was his joint pain he's not hearing, you ain't nothing without mobilityif its autoimmunity attacking cartilidge, that can eat u alive

  13. Right….Andrew. What is your problem? No need to be so sarcastic and rude. Writing good descriptive prose about an experience is not glamourising it at all, or did you manage to miss reading about the blood? I suggest you learn to write properly with decent punctuation and without text speak before criticising others about their writing.

  14. Not that I agree with them, but the first 2 comments made sense (although andrew, I'd like to know which “huge chunks” he missed out, as I certainly didn't spot them), but the joint pain one, what the hell?!Tom's writing gives us an insight into his job and his life. That is all. There is no arrogance in his writing, he simply tells us things.

    Tom, whatever andrew thinks, be sure that the majority of us disagree – I for one really appreciate your writing, and though I have never met you, it is you who have confirmed to me my suspicions that I'm stupid enough to want to do what you do!

  15. Along with the others, I love Tom's writing. Sorry but I don't see the glamour. I see blood, sweat and occasional bouts of frustration with idiots interspersed with glimmers of hope.Takes all sorts.

  16. Andrew… I am assuming you know nothing about this 'drunk'. Therefore you don't have a right to be so judgemental, not all drunks are bad people and deserve to die! People turn to drink for all sorts of reasons, how do you know he hasn't been to war himself?! As far as I care (having been saved by paramedics, and also working alongside them as a PC) those who work in the ambulance service should be appreciated more. They do a hard job which is far from glamorous. Just because Tom is expected to deal with bad things it doesn't mean they won't have a profound effect on him. Tom is still human, we should appreciate his honest and frank writing of a job most people know so little about.One day, you may be in need of help, you should be greatful people like Tom exist and are impartial and will try hard to save you regardless of who you are.

  17. To glamoUrise: to make something deceptively beautiful or mysteriously exciting or alluringly attractive esp. when artificially contrived.I see no contrivance or deception in TRs words, Andrew. He has removed some of the deeper substance but this has to be done on a public blog. What the ambulance service sees can rarely be described in absolute detail to Joe Public but can only be hinted at. Here, Tom does this so that people have an idea of what's happening out there. It gives a people a glimour of the sadness that faces average, every day people that comprise the Service. This man, whether he's forever hand-on-bottle or out having celebrated the birth of his child or grandchild or betrothal of someone close to him or whatever, did not ask for such a terrible injury to befall him and, as such, did not deserve for it to happen. However, it did and Tom and colleagues were there to help as much as possible. To treat and promote recovery

    Go safely, Andrew. You'll never know who's help you'll need next

  18. “Along with the others, I love Tom's writing. Sorry but I don't see the glamour”The glamor is reserved for those who are young, fresh, and new to the business. It wears off fairly quickly in the day-to-day working EMT's life. There was a saying about working in NYC-EMS that holds true for any EMS system: 58 minutes of boredom, followed by 2 minutes of sheer terror. The best one can hope for is to do one's job well, even with the stupidity that surrounds one at times.

    If you are looking for glamor, read the magazine.

  19. well in a way i reckon you are all conning tomthe job is a killer healthwise and theres no way the pay covers the damage and risk, its essentially a volunteer job

    why would you do it?

    some not well though out notions of helping that crud called humanity which in the scheme of things is just some waste product of evolution

    you are all helping him to buy into it

    he tells you what you want to hear and yourr reinforce him on that path of delusion

    then you give my posts that see no evil, hear no evil crap

  20. Mop out blood and drink tea at the same time… Yummy!I guess with your experience, you can also predict and control your emotions, or at least most of them.

    Still, it's funny how we react sometimes: I was thrilled by seeing a c-section, but fainted when I had to poke myself with a needle…

  21. And even in the magazines, it's all so fake it's not even glamourous anymore… Or wait, is it glamourous because it's fake?…mmmh…

  22. Wow, that was beautifully written all the more poignant for me because some 5 weeks ago a Paramedic was doing the same for my Mum. She wasn't drunk, the gales lifted her off her feet and she banged the back of her head sustaining a brain injury. She had an op to remove a brain clot and survived but sadly a subsequent hospital transfer of over a 100 miles seemed to take its toll and she is in a coma now. A random accident that has had devasting consequences for my Mum and my family. I hope that the Paramedic that looked after my Mum was as lovely as Tom, so she would have felt safe and not scared.

  23. Or perhaps, Andrew, it's that some people aren't so selfish and self-righteous as to only consider pay and perks when choosing their career. And it's a good job too, or we would have no paramedics, police officers, nurses, fire fighters…Whatever reason we're here for, the fact is we might as well make the most of it. And without people like Tom, society would fall apart.

  24. Iv'e just spent 30 minutes trying to draft something 'acceptable' in rebuttal of what “Andrew” posted.I should have read the reply by EmT Vessel first. Can't improve on that!

  25. I have a sneaking suspicion that Andrew is jealous of Tom, either that or we are all misunderstanding him.It seems that the government and some members of the public have something against public servants, that is until they need the services themselves and then they don't refuse help, do they?

  26. Not everyone we ambulance staff go to are “crud,” all are people who need our help. Its more than a volunteer job, we do it because we care and can/do make a difference to peoples lives. I assume you have taken the stance that who Tom was describing was “crud” because of the mention of alcohol. Unfortunately you have read too much into his description, at no point does he mention that the person was extremely intoxicated or an alcoholic or anything else for that matter, he could quite easily be describing a person just like yourself who had been out for a few drinks with his mates before being attacked or hit by a car or fallen over, or anything. What Tom is describing is helping a person in the street with a serious head injury who is in dire need of hospital treatment, a person who without professional help both in the pre-hospital environment and in hospital could very easily be left to die where he lay> I don't want to speak for Tom, however I imagine the mention of alcohol was to highlight the difficulties we face when treating head injuries, as the symptoms of a head injury can sometimes be mistaken for drunkenness.At the end of the day we do this job because we like it, are good at it and want to help society. We don't judge people on how they live their lives, we see and we treat. You may well be quick to judge, you certainly seem to have done. (I am quite happy to be corrected if this is not the case) As for pay, yes it could be better, but I have a roof over my head, I enjoy my life outside work, I am in good health (however no matter what job you do it can be detrimental to your health) and I enjoy my work. I enjoy helping people, I am not deluded enough to think that this is a one man crusade to heal the world, however I do my part to help those who are in need of it most.

    You speak of delusion, I am afraid it is not I nor Tom who is deluded, it is the people that don't understand what the hard working boys and girls in the emergency services do, and the difference that we all make to peoples lives on a daily basis. Of course you are entitled to your opinion and I respect that, however going back to the original topic, how would you like to be treated if after a nice evening out with your mates you were unfortunately injured and had to have people like myself and Tom treating you? would you like us to treat you with respect and be non-judgemental? or would you rather us think of you as “crud” and a drain on society and just pile you off to A&E without much of a thought. I can tell you now that no matter who you are in this country, and indeed the world over, if you have the misfortune to need us treating you, then you will be treated in exactly the same way as anyone else, drunk, sober, high as a kite or just unwell you are a human being and you deserve to receive good and proper treatment.

  27. I've read his book and now I read his blog, and not once have I ever heard Tom romanticize the job or put himself up on a pedestal. The man tells it like it is. Sometimes, he tells you all the little details and sometimes he puts it in a short, almost poetic half-pager that either way – puts you right there alongside him in the rain. I wish I had the ability to write as precisely as he does.

  28. “We enlist the help of bystanders to help roll his body onto the stretcher.”This is something I've wondered about a few times: if you're treating a casualty, would you want bystanders to offer assistance, or would you prefer to ask for help if/when you need it? I'm a “Johnnie”, so I've got some relevant training, but obviously nowhere near your level so I'm a bit hesitant to interrupt LAS crews when they're busy.

  29. “We go back to the ambulance, in the center of the floor is a perfect bootprint.Mine.

    Formed from his blood. “

    if you have a poetic cast you can read into that what u will

  30. Depends on the situation really. There were three of us there but with me holding the patient's head we needed more people to do the log roll onto the stretcher.There's nothing wrong with asking if you can help out if you think that the crew could do with a hand, the worst you should get is a polite refusal.

  31. True, you can read anything like that though. Maybe its just because I work for an Ambulance Service, but I read it as he came back to the ambulance and saw that there was a boot print in the middle of the floor which was made up of the patients blood. I am not sure how else you can write that?

  32. There have been many occasions that I wished someone had come forward with an offer of help, there is no harm in asking, like Tom said, you will only get a polite refusal if there is enough hands…..

  33. Weird to think that “some not well though out notions of helping that crud called humanity which in the scheme of things is just some waste product of evolution” – before mentioning Tom should be married w/kids.And “at periods during world war one train loads of young healthy repsonsible men where being taken to the front and 99% killed

    maybe you didn't sweat “

    Maybe Tom couldn't blog from WW1 because computers hadn't been invented? And indeed, he wasn't even born yet….?

    To most of us, all that would be a contradiction, not to mention dafts…. but it obviously makes sense to Andrew, so that maybe means that he uses different logic to us, and as such isn't worth arguing with….

  34. well what i wrote could be interpreted to mean tom should be married with kids but in fact that was not what was meantits that being single there is quite a bit of freedom from conventional social attitudes to look at the realities

    like schopenhauer :o)

    human life has no worth

    tom in fact has showm great sense in avoiding the moil of relationship and family given how far he is on autistic spectrum

    bit depressing really, one can see how intelligence gets bred out

  35. Human life has no worth…..Speak for yourself on that one, theres a lot of good in this world, just because it's difficult to see sometimes doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

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