I honestly can't believe it, a Friday night and I went to someone who had genuinely been mugged.

Please allow me to explain…

Now, I may be accused of being overly cynical and those accusers may have a fair point, but given the amount of street violence that I see I have come to a few conclusions.

(1) Many people who get beaten up have done something to 'deserve' it. even if it is a stupid, childish or other pointless reason.

(2) As someone wiser than I said, 'For instant a$$hole, just add alcohol' – a large amount of beatings are fueled by alcohol.

(3) Truly 'random' violence is very rare.

This is what gives me confidence when I'm walking down the otherwise frightening streets in the dangerous parts of town during the hours of darkness. I'm not involved in drugs or gangs. I have no bank of 'respect' that I have to protect and, for this year at least, I'm not drunk and combative. This means that it is unlikely for myself to get mugged.

In the three and a half or so years I've been doing this job I can count the number of genuine muggings I've gone to on the fingers of one hand. This is obviously a good thing, I'd rather have frequent jobs to drug dealers who have beaten each other up than to an innocent who has just been robbed. With the former you can turn up and treat them while with the latter there is a distinct feeling that you will feel sorry for them – something that does your 'ambulance street-cred' no good whatsoever.

The poor soul that I attended to had been punched in the face and the criminals had stolen his bag. The local kebab shop had taken the victim in, had called the police and ambulance and had sorted him out with a towel (for his bust lip) and a bottle of water. The unreported kindness of strangers often makes my job bearable.

I was first on scene and quickly determined that while shocked, he wasn't seriously hurt. He'd need hospital treatment for a cut lip and eye, but wasn't in any danger to life or limb.

The 'street crime' squad arrived a minute or two after us, we let them use the back of our ambulance as an impromptu interview room so that they could get a description of the attackers. Two of the team questioned the patient, my crewmate attended to his injuries, meanwhile I stood outside (to give them room) and chatted with the final officer. As is often the case the police were sympathetic and professional.

With the details collected we took the patient and his friend to the local hospital. The problem the patient has is this – as the injury itself is fairly minor, they are often a low priority and are sent out into the waiting room. But I think that the psychological trauma of being mugged should warrant a cup of tea and a bit of a sit down somewhere quiet (not out in the waiting room with the noisy drunks). Unfortunately this doesn't happen because there aren't the resources available and this is a damn shame.

This is why we try to make the transport to hospital as nice as possible, as it's often the last time they'll get proper one-to-one care.

Today in 'school' we had a whole day on 'diversity', while I don't think it taught us East London crews anything new it was more interesting than expected. I have no idea what is in store for me tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Mugging”

  1. Whilst it is not necessarily relevant it reminded me of an incident at work today. I now work in a reasonably quiet GP surgery in the outskirts of Manchester – and a young lad came in, not one of our patients, quite aggressive in attitude and demanding a prescription for methadone. I dealt with him fairly easily and sent him on his way (minus the prescription he wanted.) Later on, I was explaining it to our manager and she laughed at me when I told her, “oh don't worry about me, I don't do scared, I lived in North London all my life” Flippant comment maybe, but a lot of truth in it. I think we all become a little more street savvy somehow.

  2. I used to work in a bar in Manchester city centre and I know exactly what you mean about the alcohol and asshole thing. I once got a large glass ashtray launched at my head for suggesting to a drunk that perhaps it might be time to call it night and when I asked a man who was squaring up to his friend if he could please take it outside he infomed me that if I didn't effing well eff off I'd get the effing beating of my effing life. Nice, very eloquent. I'd spoken to him earlier in the day before he got smashed and he was really pleasant and quiet. Some people really shouldn't drink.

  3. Posts like these are reassuring. I feel sorry for the guy that got mugged as I would for anyone innocently involved in such an incident. As you point out though, most people involved in such things are anything but innocent. The papers would have us believe that the streets are littered with honest people getting beaten up for going about their normal business and this just isn't true. The people that would trust the papers or telly over blogs should read this and open their eyes to what is authentic (like this very excellent blog) and what isn't.

  4. At least you were able to come to his aid.I see the 'diversity' has got too the LAS, we've had it on LU for about a year or more, and like you say – us East End crews don't learn much, I know I didn't. Something about eggs and Grandmothers.

  5. Embrace diversity!!!!Embrace and kiss slug, snails and puppy dogs tails.

    Embrace time 'in school,'

    for this is reality, random or not.


  6. Three or four year ago I was mugged while walking along a quiet residential street only a few hundred yards from my home. The assailant stopped his car and got out to supposedly ask for directions. He then produced an extremely large knife and proceeded to relieve me of the minimal worldly goods about my possession.After this unfortunate event I sprinted to the local tube station (too close to home for comfort) and the boys in blue turned up in less then a minute. Apparently I was the third victim in half an hour.

    1) I was extremely grateful and fortunate not to require the assistance of any of Tom's colleagues. The outcome could so easily have been entitely different.

    2) Three days later I actually received a call, while out, on my mobile from a CID officer- not to say that they had caught the assailant, but ostensibly to simply check that I was OK. I really appreciated the call.

    While not necessarily random violence ( the bar steward was obviously targetting people) I would like to think that I was blameless.

  7. I'm sure you were innocent, unfortunately it's nothing new, about 20 years ago I took a diversion on the way home from the pub with my girlfriend to buy some fags from the garage, once I was on the ground I was kicked in the head half a dozen times, and informed it was because “we fuckin' hate you” before the three of them walked off. So yes, sometimes you're just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ambulance crew were lovely though!

  8. It is truly the little acts of kindness that keep you sane in this business. Quite comforting also that random violence is rare in London.

  9. May I suggest the word “been” somewhere in the first sentence?It's a good point you make, but it's no reason to not take basic safety precautions (particularly for the girls among us) when you're out and about at night. Stick to well lit populated streets, don't advertise your iPod/mobile phone/big wodge of cash, let someone know where you're going and when you expect to be back, that sort of thing.

  10. I was working in a first aid post at a certain large carnival which was recently held in London. A guy in his early twenties came in with blood down his face and all over his clothes after he had tried to stop someone in the crowd from running off with a woman's handbag. He knew with hindsight that it was a bad idea but at the heat of the moment he acted on an instinct and received a punch in the face for his trouble.At least we were able to make the rest of his day slightly better – we cleaned him up and one of the doctors (yes, a real doctor) came over within 15 minutes to examine and close his wound, saving him several hours wait in A&E as a result of a split-second's decision to stick up for someone more vulnerable than himself…what a lousy end to the day that would have been.

  11. There are actually real muggings. I would suspect that many of the real muggings don't involve violence (only the threat of it), which may be why much of the violence you see is not mugging-related.

  12. You're right about a great deal of street violence being alcohol-fuelled and that “random” assualts are often provoked (at least in the mind of the perpetrator) by some action of the victim.Muggers, though, are opportunistic and pick the most vulnerable targets possible. So even if you aren't involved in drugs or gangs, haven't been “disrespectful” to anybody recently and aren't intoxicated, you are still more likely to be a victim of this type of crime if you are alone, lost, frail, elderly, disabled or – most of all – female.

    I've never been mugged, but then I'm a stocky young male with a shaved head and a sulky expression. I have several female acquaintances who have been mugged (more than once) simply because they were easy targets. They hadn't done anything further to “deserve” it.

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