Every Time I Try To Get Out, They Drag Me Back In

This blog has been many things over the years, it's been a place to rant, a place to explain what us ambulance people do, a place to celebrate what we do well, a place to defend the service from inaccurate news reports and a place to criticise some of the planning that occurs.

The benefits of this blog are many and varied, I've met people I never would have otherwise, done things that I'd never have imagined and made some very good friends. Doors have been opened to me.

I enjoy writing this blog. I like having a place where I can write and people listen to me – I know that sounds egotistical but I'm not alone in liking an audience. Sometimes it's hard to motivate myself when I'm coming off a twelve hour shift, but other times I can't sleep because of something I need to write.

Why am I telling you this?

I've been sitting on an application form for the position of Press Officer for the LAS for the past week or two. The reasons for even having this form are many and varied and will be a subject for a future blogpost. I'm not qualified for the post, even though I think I would bring a breath of fresh air into the role. The chances of me even getting an interview are tiny, if not non-existant.

But it was only this morning that I realised that I can't go for the post.

It's all to do with credibility.

Would you trust me, dear blog reader, if you knew I was now part of a PR machine? Would I still be able to rail against some of the inadequacies of the NHS, the Government or the LAS if I were further on the 'inside'? Would such a job role completely neuter this blog?

I think that it would, so the application form (no shift work, less heavy lifting, more money, just as much fun) has gone into the bin.

It's a damn shame, but this blog has come to mean so much to me over the years that doing something like this would make me feel like I've 'sold out'.

It would have been nice to have a kettle always within reach though…

38 thoughts on “Every Time I Try To Get Out, They Drag Me Back In”

  1. While I'd have to agree that your chances of getting the job are probably slim- especially because of the blog- I'd also say that you should go for it.A blog from someone inside the PR machine with connections to those who are being reported on would be a fascinating read. It'd be great to have some insight into how exactly things are being spun, and might perhaps lead towards a greater deal of honesty coming out of the LAS. A long shot, but something worth attempting!

    Best of luck from a fan on the other side of the sea!

  2. 1st post, long time reader1stly… apply for the job, as you should let fate decide if you are good enough for it

    2ndly, whatever happens, keep blogging. It is always an intresting read

    3rdly, thanks for the link to the “Ambulance Nut – Learning the Ropes” Blog, another one added to my must reads

    Keep up the stellar work, and you were great on the radio show (oh, on a side note, there was a Train Guard on the phone at one point, who said that they would go and help an injured person. I am a train driver, and I too would go help an injured person, but not if there was an attacker with a knife/gun etc standing over the injured party – I have been spat at, and punched enough in this job, not to get knifed too! My job has a high enough “risk of death” for me, thanks!)

  3. Thats a big decision, and it is a decision that you must make. Just make sure that you make it for the right reasons. Would a move to PR be a good step for your career? Do you want to stay on the front-line with no kettle, all the heavy lifting, drunks and shift work?You sound like a level-headed guy, so I am sure you will make the right decision for the right reasons. If you chose that a move to PR is right then go for it, if its not right then dont go for it!

  4. Stick with your “proper” job mate and continue making a positive contribution to society.Do you really just want to pass on to us the normally anodyne and banal crap called “a press release”instead of this brilliant blog.You dont need some interviewers to tell you whether or not you could do the job, you have proved that you could here in spades.——————Anyway the fewer cups of tea you drink the more you appreciate them.

  5. I persoanlly think it wouldn't neuter the reader of the blog, but the other way round….I think if they knew you wrote the blog, they would expect a similar THRUTHFUL tone to the press releases….and no journalist in their right mind every tells the whole truth…..therefore, in terms of you getting the job, I think unfortunately you would be right in estimating your hopes of getting it. I'd personally vote for you though 😛

  6. You're a fool.I love your blog. I love getting the story behind what the papers may say.

    But your life, health and wellbeing are more important that faceless comments.

    Coming off shift work, less heavy lifting, more money and you're turning it down?!

    Obviously, I wouldn't expect you to change your mind on the basis of (to use my own words) a faceless comment but I really hope that you have seriously thought about this and that the blog is not the only reason.

  7. About Tom Reynolds no's 23 , 53 , 58 and 65 ! you do what you want to do Tom you are young free and single and not married to a blog !

  8. Would I still trust you, of course! (Great job on the radio the other day, by the way).I would be a problem if the powers that be started exerting an influence on the content of the blog or you felt that you had to neuter it yourself. The price of not being anonymous I guess (although you could start an anonymous blog as well … )

    But if it's something you want to do you should send in the form — see if you get the interview.

    When you do get one you just go in and explain truthfully that you'll not take the job if you think it'll conflict with the blog. Maybe they'll go for that, maybe not. But I don't think you should bin the idea at this stage, at least see if they give you an interview.

    Maybe there'll be some other openings they might think you're suited for if they know that you're wanting a change.

    Basically, go for it, your readership will understand.

  9. Ditto Clare.I don't always agree with what you say, but I do keep coming back for more. But many readers are, like me, fickle. If you stopped posting, it'd be a shame, but I'd get over it.

    Additionally, I think your need for self-gratification on your blog might diminish if you were in an office, and you might not want to continue.

    It does seem perverse that you want to stop your self development because of the sycophantic 'blogosphere'.

    Go for the job. Do you really want comments like mine? 😉

  10. I have to say I am with everybody else on this one.I would still read your blog if you were part of the PR team, and at the end of the day as others have said your not married to the blog

    If you wana go for it, go for it

    Sry if it sound like im rambling.

  11. It wouldn't change how I read your blog, but I think you might struggle 'reporting the official line' 9-5, then possibly wanting to write something completely the opposite on here. It wouldn't be selling out, but it might cause you some personal 'torn-ness' if you feel that you have two tongues. Providing you stay honest here, that's fine. But would you be allowed to remain honest here by the powers that be? Or would they start turning the screw?

  12. Interesting conundrum, but I don't think I agree with your conclusion. You should apply for the job and see whether you even get an interview.You don't reveal the job spec, but I assume that it would involve building relationships with the media and promoting a positive view of the service. You do that now, so that part shouldn't be a problem. Most grown ups know that nothing is perfect and would like balance. You do manage to do that – as on that stupid BBC R5 programme. In the private sector, no management wants to do less than a perfect job, but reality means making difficult choices and compromises, usually involving allocation of scarce resources. I imagine that it is no different for the LAS.

    The difficulty would be if you, as a PR man, were told to defend the indefensible. That would be a real dilemma, but a pro PR type wouldn't. If s**t had hit the fan over something, a good PR type would try to project what is being done to fix it and to focus on the positive – on behalf of the poor sods who are doing the fixing. The meeja don't like fixes and they don't [want to] understand real problems. All they want is soundbites and headlines focusing on catastrophes. Could you deal with that? It isn't necessarily that PR types are fundamentally evil – it is that they are obliged to deal with 'customers' who can be. Some would make your worst calls to date seem easy; stabbing, shooting & bludgeoning comes in different forms & these guys always aim for your back.

    You should apply just to see if they think you have something to offer. You might & you might not; it may well be that you don't get an interview, but I suspect it would be because others from a 'trade' background might be better candidates. Give it a go . .

  13. interesting point. the blog would change and probably become much more dull….. however do you think you'd better serve the LAS where you are or in the press office.. what's really going to make the big difference.if it's important then the blog should maybe pay the price.

  14. I agree with the commenters here – you should not sacrifice your health and career for us… I do read your blog every day, and I would still read it if you were in an office job – the quality of the writing won't go down! And it would be interesting to read (obviously when you could post within the bounds of confidentiality) about the life of a PR agent for the NHS!

  15. Oops, sorry. Reply in wrong place. Again: apply for the job. I'd trust you even if you were a PR person. And you could give an interesting perspective on what that was like. Apply for the job.

  16. Tom,I think you've done the right thing. Not becuase you couldn't do the press job with your eye's closed and not because the moral quandry would addle your mind, but because giving up life on the road is a huge decision and you need to be 100% sure if you're going to do it. You'll lose a huge chunk of your life (and realisitcally this blog too), you'll lose your friends on the road (eventually shift work and non-shift work just don't match up) and you'll lose what you can talk about (not blog but genuine conversation). Just a thought but why not look at something along the lines of splitting your work load between the two areas. Could end up with the best of both worlds.


  17. It would be difficult for you to write anything on the blog which was against the 'party line', as I'm sure that media people would soon pick up that you blogged. They would certainly watch this space when potentially interesting stories were released through the press office if you were to take that role.It would be a loss for me if you were to be limited by what you thought you could say, and at the same time coming off the 'front line' would, I presume, dilute the experiences that you could write about first hand.

    The key question however, is what is next for you? If you are content to see yourself doing this for the next 5, 10 etc years, then we will all be delighted for you to keep entertaining us. If not, then we will all understand, I am sure.

    Why not contact the national sunday papers and see if one of them will offer you a regular column? That would bring some more money in, at the same time as keeping you on the front line.

    Good luck in whatever you decide.

  18. Tough call. Very tough call. I'm sure, along with everyone else, that you'd make the greatest Press Officer the LAS ever had. But that's exactly because you're free. If they're paying you to speak, rather than not to kill people, it all becomes much muddier.I don't know what I would have done. No shift work + kettle has definite appeal. But boring, compared to writing one of the world's best blogs. I don't know. I think maybe you were right. Sleep when you're dead.

  19. Tom, retrieve the application and go for it.After 23 years on the front line as a nurse I know what happens when colleagues and friends leave the front line work. The connections loosen, the poor bloody infantry look askance at one who has moved into one of the plush ivory towers (education, management, PR, etc) and you mightn't feel like 'one of us' around your former colleagues. Only you really know if you want to lose that but unless you apply you may never know.

    On the plus side: regular hours, sleep, proper meal breaks, return to good health, new doors open for you and beverages on tap!

    I'm interested because I am fast approaching the time when I may decide to plump for a job away from the clinical arena but I am a sad bugger in that I enjoy the clinical work and have no desire as yet to leave it.

    As for your blog…life moves on and you may have to change your blog. It's your choice and reaching crossroads like this always make life interesting and exciting.

  20. You've got to at least apply. Even if there is only a slim chance, if it was me, I would always be wondering if I would have got the job….. I'm sure your blog would be just as interesting and I'm sure you've got lots of stories from your past you can blog about and there would be a whole new angle you could blog on.Go for it!!

  21. I'm new to your blog, but on the night that i heard the radio 4 play, I did sit up half the night reading your blog archives. (By the way, it's a terrific blog, and has opened my rather sheltered eyes to all sorts of wonders and harsh realities of life).What shines out above all is your humbling, and humble, humanity, and your deep compassion for the rest of us frail beings. Whatever you may think, there's a whole lotta love somewhere inside you which keeps you doing this job. I'm sure it ain't the money.

    Of course there are all sort of factors influencing your decision, and the blog may be one them.

    But what the hell! Apply for the job – for, at the very least, the experience, and so that you don't find yourself a month or two hence on some godawful job on the graveyard shift wishing your were tucked up in bed with a demanding and interesting job as LAS press officer to go to in the morning.

    You could always turn it down if you got it. Always best to avoid putting yourself in the position of being able to have regrets…

  22. As you were a nurse and are now an EMT and from reading your blog it is obvious that you like helping people and having the contact with many different patients on a daily basis, are you possibly a bit concerned that you would miss that contact? (Not to mention the blood and guts and fast driving!)Having said that, you obviously love writing too, and are very good at it.

    What about a training officer post?

    Anyway, go with the flow and do what's best for you, I think you'll have still have a loyal following .

  23. Can anyone explain to me why the LAS needs a press officer? Sound just another jumped- up mickey mouse comfortable bureaucratic waste of money.

  24. TomThis blog is the biggest plus point you have – so go for the job, Right now you have trust from your readers and the press – taking that trust into the Press job is the biggest thing you can do for the LAS and they should bite your hand off and appoint you. Imagine some point in the future where you really could make a difference because you have that trust. You worry about compromising your independence – do you do that here – no and you operate in areas of controversy and confidentiality. Being a PR isn't about lying – it is about being an advocate for a team that you really believe in. You know the messages that need to be got across and you are really qualified to do this.

    You need not lose the blog – in fact if I employed you I would let you blog in office hours because the story that you tell is already about explaining what you do and engaging the public. If the guys at LAS have any insight, they will know that appointing you could really make a difference to how the service is perceived and how it is used. If I were you I would go along to an interview armed with a proposal that integrates blogging into the role – so there!

  25. I agree with Bee's points (and a few others above) – your blog is the thing that should get you the job (in any sane world, anyway). In a sense you are ALREADY doing a great PR job for the service, and I had no idea of what your job was actually like until I found this place.Only you can know whether you'd be able to walk the line and keep things honest, even if it meant losing the job: and whether it would be possible to work this into the job specs, I can't say.

    Maybe it's not about turning the job down for the blog per se, but about turning it down because you sense that it would limit your freedom of speech, and ultimately even your freedom of thought, and of conscience?

  26. Anytime you hear any news reports from the LAS it goes through the press office. If newspapers call up for a comment on a report they've heard, they call the press office. The press office is a necessary part of any organisation which is public facing.The alternative is that these questions are fielded by ambulance people themselves. And what a good use of their time that would be(!)

  27. What have you got to lose by applying? If you don't you'll never know whether you might have got it. At least then if you get offered the job you can make the crucial decision and if you don't get an interview/offered the job then you haven't lost anything.

  28. You're right to think it would change the blog – there's no way you could be as frank (nor would you have the frontline action to report on). But you've got to balance it up for yourself.

  29. Having the job might provide even more things to bitch about…Seriously, I don't think this blog would be totally neutered. You have your opinion now, it doesn't mean you'll change. You seem to have strong values. Another question is: do they fit with the job?

    But why not try anyway? You never know…It might be completely different from what you expected. And at least you won't have regrets.

  30. Tom,The people have spoken. Remember an Interview works both ways; you can ask them what they can do for you. You have a media profile and a growing readership (of the blogs and books), so what is the harm in having a go. How do you know it would be a sell out? It sounds as if you are not 100% sure but “feel the fear and do it anyway.” If you got the job and didn't like it you could then try something else or return. Who knows where this might lead? More power to your elbow mate!

  31. While I think you should further your career and fulfil your potential, I agree with you that the reality is that in your role, as press officer would conflict with your other interests. While going down the LAS line on any particular subject, airing your real views on your blog would just land you in so much trouble that its realistic to assume you would not be seriously considered for the job, assuming your bosses know that it is you that writes this blog.I guess it all depends on what means more to you. The job or this blog. Tough call, I don't know what I would do. I guess mortgage / rent / quality of life would win me over. But having said that, while you do rant quite a bit about things that justifiably piss you off in your current job, we all know you love it.

  32. Just a thought,as they say, “no shift work,less heavy lifting,more money,just as much fun” Why does a person sitting on their arse in a nice warm office from 9 to 5, near a kettle,passing on to some rag the latest excuses from their “superiors”for the latest cock-up get paid more than another person racing around London in the small hours,risking their life with the dregs of society,getting covered in blood and odure and despite all this saving lives?——- Makes you think.

  33. Nice to know your not selling out on us Tom, blogging wouldn't be the same without youLiz & Josh (33w 6d)

  34. No if you went for the job you wouldn't have sold out. However l think that you will probably find that you are constricted and frustrated by the internal garbage that you will be expected to throw out.I have tried to change things from the inside as l am also outspoken but found that l was wasting my time. The people that were there did not want to know reality or change what they did it suited them, so l just went my own way.

    There is more to life than a kettle within reach and you would want to go back to where you had freedom to do what your gut told you what was best, but it isnt easy to go back to what you left cause it has changed and moved on that leaves you feeling lost.

  35. I think you've done the right thing. I work in internal PR and it's really hard sometimes when you have to defend, or sell, and aspect of the work / sector that you know is wrong and deceptive. You try and keep things separate, you start convinced that what you do during the day isn't who you are at home, but that's nonsense. Part of what makes you great and your opinions and views so compelling is your honesty and your passion. While I'm sure you could have done the job standing on your head, and I know they would have been extremely lucky to have had you, I fear it might have slowly disapeared you. And I also think it would have remained impossible for you to keep blogging in the way you do now. Keep looking, a job that is better for your health and well-being is out there, but PR it aint – it's a poisoned chalice!

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