I was working with him once when he called Control on the radio. It was a complicated situation, and despite giving as concise account as he could, unavoidably it meant he was on the radio for a minute or two.
‘Sorry that was a bit long win-ded. All received?’ he said
‘Negative. Can you repeat your last, please?’
‘Oh – right you are, Control...’ He went through the whole thing again. ‘Received?’
‘Thanks – yes. All received. Though to be honest with you, I got it the first time. I just wanted to hear you speak some more.’
Tonight, we’ve been requested as back-up for Dylan who needs help with a lift. We run red, as the call is way out in the country, and he’s already been on scene a while. In fact, the address is so far out in the sticks, we have to take it on trust that there are people out here at all. But the Satnav seems to think so; we hope for the best and follow its white line – until we’re directed off a country lane and find ourselves in a dark, horseshoe-shaped close. Our headlights pick out the response car, so we park as near as we can and go inside.
Dylan is standing in the living room, next to the supine body of a woman on the floor. Ginny is the very definition of morbidly obese, thirty stones or more, as hopelessly stuck on the brown kitchen lino as a pilot whale stranded on the beach.
‘Thanks very much for coming, guys,’ says Dylan, waving a blue glove in the air. ‘I’m afraid poor Ginny went o-ver bending down to pick up a fork.’
Ginny’s daughter Alex puts her head round the door – she’s come into the kitchen by the back door, and she’s trapped in there by the body of her mother, lying as it is across the doorway, completely blocking it. ‘I told her not to. I told her: “Kick it to the side and get another one. But she won’t listen, will you, mum?’
‘So what ha-ppened was – Ginny went down on her knees, pitched for-ward with her hands outstretched like this, then down onto her front. When I got y’er, she was face down. Alex and me managed to roll her onto her side so she could breathe, but I haven’t been able to do much else I’m afraid. It looks as if she’s broken her arm, and she’s bashed her head a little bit. But you weren’t knocked out, Ginny, wasn’t it?’
‘Okay, fair enough. You couldn’t fetch in the inflatable cushion, guys? And whatever else you’ll think might help? Maybe a troll-ey to the back door? Cos I think she’ll walk that little distance once we get her up. Ginny? D’you think you’ll manage a little walk to our troll-ey? With some help, mind?’
The operation to get Ginny up is Veterinary in its scale. She can’t seem to bend her legs particularly, waggling them ineffectively in the air, and her torso is so vast, getting her to sit up is like trying to put a crimp in a beach ball. I have to knot two triangular bandages together to reach from her shattered arm to her neck, and even that’s barely sufficient. But between us all we make fair progress, especially with Dylan leading the operation.
‘There we go! Gently, gently! H’up! Sm-ashing!’
Ginny looks straight up at the ceiling, weeping with the shame of it all.
‘Just make sure you use the grabber next time,’ says Alex. ‘Promise me.’
Outside, the moon has emerged from behind a bank of cloud, and the cars parked around the close are silvered in the gloom like ghostly toys. There’s a frost drawing up, too, and the air tastes fresh and good.
‘A few bumps, Ginny. Brace yourself. Here we go...’
We work together, hauling and pushing the straining trolley onto the lift, up into the ambulance. Once on board, we pack blankets round her to try to keep her in place for the rocky journey back into town.
‘I’m sorry to be a nuisance,’ says Ginny, dabbing at her face with a handkerchief.
‘Don’t be so daft, girl,’ says Dylan, gently slapping her on her knee. ‘All in a day’s work. So long, now.’
He smiles and jumps off – and Alex gives him such a dreamy smile, I’m sure if she hadn’t have been wearing her seatbelt, she would have jumped straight off after him.