Not the credit crunch, but the sort of crunch you get when two large pieces of metal and plastic try to occupy the same place in the space/time continuum.

We are driving under blue lights to a 'male, not wearing any trousers' in the local shopping centre, my crewmate is behind the wheel and I'm nursing some sore wrists from our previous job*

It's snowing, but it's only just started to lay, unmelting, on the floor. It's dark, but we are lit up like a particularly obnoxious Christmas tree.

My crewmate slows to get us through a gap made by a car who has pulled over and a traffic island. I meanwhile am deep in my own thoughts.


I instantly know that someone has driven into the back of our ambulance, my head whips forward and then back – back into a hard bit of rubber secured above the back of my chair which seems to only have the purpose of being there to annoy the taller ambulance person.

There may have been swearing.

Immediately there appears a face at the driver's side window – we recognise it as one of our local police officers, a good one at that. He's off-duty and driving into work and he tells us that he's seen everything and is going to 'stick one on the other driver'.

I get out to hear him telling the driver of the other car that he's seen him following us down the road, tailgating us to get through the traffic and that he's going to be charged with 'driving with due care and attention'.

The driver's car is mashed, but there are no injuries. The ambulance doesn't have a scratch on it.

The officer has to get into work, but takes everyone's details, gives us his shoulder number and heads into work.

The other driver gives me his insurance details and drives off – despite me warning him that I don't think that his car is in any fit state to drive. Back in the cab of the ambulance I ask Control to let the police know that he's driven off in an unroadworthy car against my advice.

Then we have a slow crawl back to station to fill out the accident paperwork and take the vehicle off the road to be checked by the mechanics in the morning. Eventually our manager phones us to see if we are alright – it's implied that any sick time would result in being disciplined. She promises to get us another vehicle.

Another ambulance is driven down to us, one of the old LDV's**, we get in it to find that the heaters aren't working – at the request of Control we drive slowly through the snow to fill it up with fuel. Past the bendy buses that have jacknifed, past the cars unable to get over the flyovers. We creep through the night and fuel up – then creep back to the station.

At no point do the heaters work. I sit, curled up in my seat, trying to keep my legs warm.

By the time we get back to the station we have half an hour to the end of the shift, so we take the ambulance off the road to be fixed and watch the clock until we get to go home.


*More on this tomorrow – for some reason I'm telling these stories in reverse order.

**About which more later, oh yes, much, much more…

20 thoughts on “Crunch”

  1. About the implication that being off work sick due to an accident – surely this is a wonderfully clear example of the sickening “management by metrics” that seems so prevalent nowadays…Your sickness record beforehand is of no relevance – if they were to KNOW you were injured, and still take action disciplinary action, then I'd be thinking about working for someone a little more worthwhile…

  2. Not good for you guys, but serves the other guy right the amount of time I see that happen someone thinks they can get through quicker by following the blues and twos.

  3. Hehe – love the patient description. I wonder if another ambulance was able to get to him and help him with his trousers?

  4. I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for the driver to be procecuted. We had a driver run into one of our ambulances on a straight, main road. The driver claimed he thought the road was a dual carridgeway. The paramedic driving the ambulance was convinced the driver was playing chicken. There were 4 young men in the car and a police car just behind the ambulance. The ambulance was written off, the paramedic injured and her crewmate has only just returned to work after 6 months. The driver was ordered to take a 2 day driving course. In a more serious case locally, a woman who had been driving for two hours and had made phone calls and sent numerous text messages smashed into a car broken down by the side of the road killing the young woman sat inside. The driver was found guilty of death by dangerous driving and sentenced to 3 years in prison (So she'll serve 18 months) and a 3 year ban. I'm not a member of the hang em and flog em brigade but it doesn't seem much for taking someones life for the sake of sending texts and making a call which almost certainly could have waited.

  5. I know of a crew who, when faced with broken heaters in both the front and back, resorted to a portable 12V electric heater and a *really* long extension cable that could reach from the cigarette socket through the little window and onto the shelf in the back. Then fought over who got to attend so they could keep warm.Other than that, time to break out the driving gloves – and driving wooly hat?

  6. How about saying that the ambulance is to cold to carry patients in and they may be sued if someone gets cold. 😀

  7. I have read your book, and loved it! Also read “In Stitches” and “Trust Me, I'm a Junior Doctor” both of which are brilliant. It inspired me to start my own blog as I am a medical student. You can find it here: . I haven't put many posts on yet, as I have only just set it up. Good luck in future with your blog, it's very interesting!

  8. During all that snow on Monday morning I passed the aftermath of a 'tail-ending'. A white van had run into the back of a lorry. A lorry which was bright yellow, with flashing lights and a gentle spray of grit emanating from it. Yep, someone was tailgating a gritter ….

  9. Be happy you only get this weather every few years. This area gets several centimeters of snow every year and it is like the drivers have never seen snow before. I worked in the desert for a while and when it rained there was the same effect.

  10. Good luck with that.Just be careful not to write about things that you wouldn't want to justify saying to the patient, relative, friends, fellow staff, superiors, judges and the BMA in person.

    Welcome to blogging!

    (You may also want to check out 'I am not a drain on society' from my sidebar).

  11. As someone who lives where the average winter temperature is -17C (with annual dips down to the -40'sC, I second the hat comment: wool is best, but synthetic fleece is a reasonable sub. Also, long underwear or the bottom half of a fleece jogging set worn under trousers is very helpful. Sitting around in the cold is bad, so you need to insulate as much as is comfortable for the work you do. Mitt or gloves are a good idea too. If you have to take them off for fiddly stuff, fine, just wear them the rest of the time.And stay warm…!!!

  12. LDV's….*shudder* I'm with you on that, useless bunch of metal!! If I was a patient and an LDV turned up I'd make my own way to hospital. The last one I drove we had to carry lots water bottles because it had a 'slow' leak. Mechanics decided a glove over the problem area would solves our 'slow' leak. Suffice to say it didn't!Not long until they're all replaced…

  13. I drive a rapid response vehicle as part of BASICS, and was being tailgated for 5 miles by a biker along the M1, when I stopped because the traffic was so bad, he failed to, and went into my boot. I was fuming, as I was on my way to a child pedestrian vs car, and was in no mood to stop and take details. The tailgaters of this world should be flogged!!

  14. “it's implied that any sick time would result in being disciplined.”good old nhs. friend of mine, driving to late shift on geriatric ward, gets caught in a shunt. not injured, but shaken, rings ward intending to explain why late.

    Manager: “oh dear oh dear….I do hope you're all right…”

    Nurse: “yes, yes, I'm OK…”

    Manager [continuing without pausing] “….because you'll have to come in! there's no-one to cover for you!”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *