‘The rellies were first on scene and doing compressions so I had to follow on. I don’t think it’s going anywhere, though. She wasn’t messing about.’
He nods towards the park bench behind us: an empty bottle of wine, a scattering of pill packs.
Further away, kept back by two police officers, half a dozen of the woman’s relatives.
‘One of them found a note,’ says the paramedic, getting to his feet and pulling off his gloves. He glances over at the group. They’re crying and screaming, shouting out: Why aren’t they shocking her? and They should cover her chest up. It’s not dignified and Why aren’t they doing their job?
‘Here we go,’ says the paramedic. ‘Wish me luck.’
He goes over to talk to them.
Two more relatives arrive on scene. They seem more collected than the others. The paramedic uses them to get the information he needs, and to act as a diplomatic buffer between us and the rest.
Despite everything, the moment approaches when we’ll have to stop. I go back to the vehicle to get some blankets to cover the woman up. One of the relatives, a tall and powerfully-built young guy, paces up and down, bellowing and smacking his head.
Another police car arrives. A sergeant comes over. We brief her on what’s happened.
‘We’re just about to call it,’ we tell her. ‘I think the relatives are going to need some handling.’
‘Right,’ she says, and strides back to the group.
When everyone’s agreed, we stop compressions, note the time, start tidying up. The police have done a good job of calming and preparing the relatives. The two latecomers walk over and ask if they can say goodbye. They crouch down and stroke the woman’s hair whilst we finish tidying up around them. The others keep back, especially the tall guy, who stamps around in the distance. I’m particularly wary of him as I carry some of the bags back to the truck, and liaise with the paramedic on the car.
The sun has come up full and hot and strong. We’re all sweating, grubby. With everything stowed, the bags restocked and the truck made ready, it’s time to notify Control and clear up. I’m driving now, so I get behind the wheel. Erin, the paramedic I’m working with, climbs in beside me.
‘Oh – hang on. I’ve forgotten something,’ she says. I sit there whilst she jumps out again, goes in the back and starts rummaging around.
In the distance at the park entrance I watch as a police officer holds up the Police line do not cross tape for the tall guy to duck under. He still looks upset. He flashes a glance in our direction, then walks off out of view to the left.
Just at that moment Erin slams the side door.
My first thought is that the tall guy has run over and attacked her. I leap out of the cab and see Erin kneeling on the grass verge clutching her hand and for a moment I’m confused because I expected to see him standing over her.
‘My finger! My fucking finger! I slammed it in the door!’
She wails, supporting her bloodied hand in the air by the wrist.
I jump on board, fetch out a cool pack, and gently wrap it around her hand. I’m about to go back and fetch the Entonox when she stops me.
‘Just drive,’ she gasps. ‘Take me to hospital.’
I help her into the passenger seat.
I notify Control en route.
At the hospital, one of the consultants takes care of things straight away. He organises a ring block, injecting deep into the knuckle of the smashed finger. Erin is crying, breathing fast, straining away from the pain. The consultant speaks to her in a calm but measured way.
‘Look at me,’ he says. ‘Come on, Erin. Open your eyes. Look at me. Just breathe. It’s okay. I’m taking care of the pain now. It’s going to be okay. That’s it! Well done.’
He scoots back on the saddle chair and drops the needle into the dish.
‘A little x-ray I think and we’ll see what the damage is,’ he says.