I had a writer from Casualty out with me a couple of weeks ago – he lives local to the area and the BBC likes them to do at least one 'ride-out' so that they can get the gist of what the ambulance service is like. I know, I know, it doesn't show up on the screen, but the thought is in the right place and as the BBC have been really nice to me in the past I'm more than happy to help them out.
He was a nice chap and before the shift started we had a little chat, he was shown around the back of the ambulance and I explained that I don't do 'heartbreak and trauma', more 'drunks and drunkards'. I explained that we would have the 'Curse of the Observer' with us today – whenever there is an observer with a crew, they get nothing but 'crap' jobs all shift. We then settled down for our first call of the day.
So it was only a few minutes into the shift we found ourselves rushing out to the ambulance for a 'Two month old child, not breathing'.
I turned around to the writer and explained that it was probably a child with a runny nose, it normally is. Then I realised what time of the day it was – 7am. It wasn't outside the realms of possibility that this could be a 'genuine' job. Maybe the parents had slept through the night and woke, happy that their child hadn't woken them, only to find them dead in their cot.
I told the writer that as soon as we arrived at the house he should jump into the passenger seat and to try and keep a low profile.
We arrived at the house at the same time as the FRU, I jumped out of the ambulance and struggled getting the equipment out the side storage, my crewmate ran into the house.
I heard the mother from the ambulance – she was making a noise, the mixture of crying and screaming that will turn anyone's blood cold. I didn't need to go into the house to know that the baby truly was a dead.
Entering the house I passed the mother to get to the rear bedroom. The father was pacing up and down, nonsense words were spilling from his lips. My crewmate and the FRU were kneeling around a tiny baby. She was laying flat on the floor, motionless. A drop of blood had formed under her nose.
It was a 'scoop and run' job – there is plenty that we can do for people whose heart has stopped even for children and babies, we are trained in the resuscitation techniques that the hospitals use. In these cases though, we'd rather let the paediatric consultants deal with it, they are much better trained than us and, with lots of staff in a well equipped resus room, young patients stand a better chance.
So we did some interventions on the scene while the mother got some shoes on, then rushed out to the ambulance. I drove us to the hospital, the writer next to me. Each time a car did something stupid the writer muttered that they should 'get out the f**king way'. We made it to hospital in a few minutes and left the child with the resus team.
Unfortunately there was nothing that the hospital could do.
Once more, sitting outside the A&E department doing my paperwork, I heard the mother's scream from the relatives room as the doctors broke the news to her that her baby was dead.
The writer was surprised at the speed and co-ordination that we showed in dealing with this job – even though I wasn't working with my regular crewmate, we worked as if we were one person. He was also surprised at the idiot drivers that refused to get out of our way. In my eyes the drive to the hospital wasn't a bad one, but then I have developed a high tolerance for driver incompetence.
We spoke to the police, there was nothing unusual about the circumstances of the death, the drop of blood on the child's face could have been caused by the parents attempting to breath for the child and the police seemed satisfied that everything was 'above board'.
Our Control asked if we were alright, they do try and look after us. We were all fine, but a Team Leader appeared to check up on us anyway.
Thankfully the rest of the day was fairly peaceful.