Thursday, October 08, 2009

status report

Our early update: two patients, both out of the car, no further ambulances required, fire and police on scene.

The black four by four is up on its nearside, balanced diagonally across the middle of this orderly suburban street. Lying there with its chunky tyres and pristine chassis exposed, it is jarringly out of context, like a fridge-freezer upside down in the middle of a kitchen.
As often seems to happen when something extraordinary cuts across the usual run of the day, there is an extemporary carnival feel to the air. The fire crews are standing around examining the car, their cheerful comments shouted one to the other above the fat diesel thrumming of their trucks; the police are striding about with fluorescent bonhomie taking names, putting up temporary signs, directing events; first aiders are introducing themselves, offering help and information; blankets and other supplies are being ferried out of houses, and groups are gathering at strategic viewpoints to mark out what they think happened, to wave to people they know, and take pictures with their phones.

Sitting on a pavement propped against a wall, her left arm supported up in the air by a first aider, is a middle-aged woman with her right hand covering her eyes, sobbing. A man in a suit is standing nearby talking to a traffic cop.
‘Are you the driver?’ I ask him.
‘I’m fine. Really. Look – just see to my wife, would you?’
I go over to the woman and crouch down beside her.
She was the passenger in the front seat. The car had clipped a pedestrian island in the middle of the road, flipped over onto its side, and when the glass shattered it cut her arm. I check her over, but it seems this is her only injury. We help her into the ambulance and make her comfortable on the trolley. The husband comes on board and takes a seat next to her.
As I clean and dress her wounds, Rae asks the usual run of questions which the woman answers in a whisper. Her husband groans and puts his face in his hands.
‘Stupid. Stupid.’
Then he straightens up again as his phone rings, rubs his eyes briskly, blows out his cheeks, roots the phone out of his jacket and says: ‘Gerry. Sorry. I can’t talk now. We’ve had a bit of an accident and Jean’s been hurt – not badly, thank God. I’ll give you a call in a minute or two. Okay? Bye.’
He presses it off and drops it onto the seat next to him. ‘Sorry about that.’
Jean starts crying again.
‘I just can’t believe our luck.’
The man puts a hand on her shoulder as I finish tying off the bandage.
‘We were up all last night. Jean had a miscarriage. We were supposed to come in to the hospital for a check-up. That’s where we were headed when we crashed. I can only think I must have fallen asleep at the wheel. I can’t believe it happened. I’m so, so sorry, Jean.’
She puts a hand on top of his, and then rests her pale cheek there, too.
The phone rings again. He picks it up and looks at it with his free hand.
Suddenly there is a vigorous rap-rap-rap on the ambulance door. It opens, and the traffic cop puts his head round the opening.

‘How’re we all doing?’ he says, brightly.

9 comments:

lulu's missives said...

Hello Spence,
What a horrible chain of events for that poor couple.
But I like the chirpy policeman, good contrast but bad timing.
As for Dragon Lady, she's our Course Tutor and this term is teaching us Interpersonal Skills. We had to do role playing today. She will pin you down with a stare.
Scary!!
xx

Spence Kennedy said...

Hi Jo
It was horrible for them. Another example, though, of how these things can sometimes go. They were tired, so a driving incident was always going to be a greater risk than normal.

Fancy having a Dragon Lady teaching Interpersonal Skills. What are the units you have to study with her? Roasting Alive, Clawing: The Basics, and Rending for Beginners.

Actually, just the thought of Role Play fills me with terror. I'd rather fight a real dragon... xx

lulu's missives said...

Hey,
You forgot to mention learning how to 'hang, draw and quarter', plus the fine art of 'tarring and feathering'.
I get completely flustered when having to speak in front of the class, would rather be doing one of the above!!
xx

Spence Kennedy said...

Social work always was a tough number ... :0) x

MarkUK said...

Funnily enough, I've usually enjoyed role-play sessions - they must bring out the ham actor in me!

kmkat said...

As sad as the events were for the couple, it is almost cheering to read an account of people you help who are NOT homeless or mentally ill. This couple may be able to go on to have a family and a normal life (whatever that is).

Spence Kennedy said...

MarkUK: Role play? Isn't that where you lie on your back and put your legs and arms straight up in the air? (Maybe a bit of an 'in' joke)

KMKat: I do seem to write a lot about NFAs and psychs, but I suppose that reflects our caseload. Maybe I could do a pie-chart to show what we go to most. I could use the tags I've put on the blog posts up till now. (Note to self: calm down).

They were a lovely couple, and you're right - once they're over their bad day at black rock, I'm sure they'll be fine. Which is a positive story for once. (Note to self: look for more positive stories - but then I've said that before, and I'm still knocking out portraits of ambulance life in the style of Edvard Munch). xx

kmkat said...

Nothing wrong with Edvard Munch. He is the only famous artist from Norway, or at least the only one I, a former art history major, am aware of.

Spence Kennedy said...

Well I notice that Norway came 19th in a recent study of the world's 'happiest' countries - 22 places above UK, (only 4 above the USA).

But who cares. They've only managed one famous artist! Yah!