The radio sparked into life, “General Broadcast, General Broadcast – are there any crews able to deal with a ceiling collapse on a mother and her two year old child?”
It sounded like an interesting job, so we asked for it to be sent down to us. I was driving but despite this we were soon at the house. From the outside everything looked normal.
However, inside the house it was pure chaos.
There were seven children running around the house, all of them under the age of twelve. A single mother was clutching her two year old to her chest. At first glance they looked unharmed. The mother seemed more frightened and angry than injured.
We soon got the full story, the mother and her child were having a nap in the bedroom when the ceiling had fallen on them. We entered the bedroom expecting a few scraps of plaster. Instead we were met with the sight of a 1 1/2” ‘plaster and lathe’ ceiling, a huge chunk of this had fallen six foot onto the bed.
This is the hole in the ceiling – it was about five foot in diameter.
This was the rubble left on the floor.
Rather understandably the woman was a bit upset – the pieces of plaster that had dropped on her were about the size of my hand and were over an inch thick. I couldn’t estimate the total weight of the plaster, but each lump was very heavy.
It was now the headache I’d thought I’d gotten rid of earlier in the evening started to return.
As a single parent who had just moved into the area she had no other relatives to help look after the children – so she was refusing to go to hospital. My crewmate took her and the toddler into the ambulance so that he could examine her more fully. If he found nothing too serious then we could leave her at home to look after her children.
So off they went to the ambulance…
Which left me looking after six anklebiters.
I don’t like children.
While he was in the ambulance my crewmate phoned the patient’s GP and arranged for them to come and visit the patient. He then arranged for the police to turn up and give the patient some legal advice. Rather obviously the patient was a trifle annoyed at the landlord who had assured her that the house was fit to be lived in.
Meanwhile I was doing my best to entertain the children. My best wasn’t enough.
I was relieved when the childrens older brother arrived with some takeaway chicken meals. Yes – there was now eight children in the house of this 36 year old woman. This older brother was more like a father to the children and he soon had these apparently feral children under control.
Luckily for the woman and her child our initial guess was correct – neither her nor her child were seriously injured.
My crewmate and I escaped from the scene as soon as the police arrived.