The morning has grown in stature until it stands warm and wide and cloudless blue with everything before it. Even the sun wears shades; it pushes them further up its nose and leans in to scrutinise the bustling summer commerce of the city below – the cars and vans, bikes and buses, the pedestrians, joggers, buggies and wheelchairs, the skateboarders and bikers on the ramp, the early picnickers through the trees, the tennis players, toddlers, dog walkers and street sweepers, and that ambulance, like a wedge of pure sunshine, indicating to move over into the lane that leads to the park.
Inside the cab, Frank reads out the latest job to come through.
Man fallen from bike.
‘Not another one,’ he says. ‘How many of these are we going to do today?’
‘It’s the nice weather, Frank. Everyone gets their bike out.’
He writes the incident number on the sheet and tosses the board onto the dash.
‘If you ever see me on a bike,’ he says, ‘It’s not me. Call the police.’
But then the update comes through and he straightens in the chair.
‘OK. That would explain it. Cardiac arrest.’
Luckily we’re just a few streets away. As I pull round the corner we can see a group of people leaning over a figure in the road. I park up just beyond and protect the scene with the truck; Frank jumps out and when I join him he’s already giving CPR. As I stick on the defib pads Frank is asking the distraught woman leaning over him what her relation is to the patient – wife – what happened – he complained his arm had gone numb then he pitched off the bike – what he suffers with – angina. He tells her that her husband’s heart has stopped working but we’re doing what we can. I nod at the man who made the call, and he gently leads her to one side to give us more room.
‘VF. Hands off.’
Frank lifts his hands.
I deliver a shock. The man’s body gives a convulsive shudder, then Frank is straight back on the chest.
Another crew turns up to help.
A minute further and we shock the man again. This time a viable rhythm settles in to the monitor. A pulse at the neck, increasingly effective breathing. We cluster round the man’s attempt at life with the care of primitives tending a flame. Every bit of kit that could possibly keep the fire going is out on the road now. Until finally, incredibly, it seems as if his condition has stabilised sufficiently to package him up and load him onto the truck. The second truck tidies up and follows with the patient’s wife. At hospital he is stabilised further in Resus, then taken to the cath lab. He finishes the day in CCU.
‘Like I said,’ says Frank, taking a sip of his coffee and studying the sky, the light needling from the rims of his dreadful seventies sunglasses, ‘If you ever see me on a bike...’