Thursday, December 08, 2011


We’re sitting in the rec room. One of the older paramedics has got on to the subject of elderly drivers and their adventures in automatics.

‘I remember we went to this job,’ he says. ‘An elderly couple, just back from the shops. His wife gets out and goes to unlock, the husband puts the car in reverse to put it away in the garage. But something happens – who knows what – his foot gets stuck or something. Anyway, the car shoots back, crashes through the garage door, out through the garage wall, ploughs across the garden, through a washing line, the flower beds, on through a brick wall and out into the street behind where it smashes into a passing van. When we get there the guy is still in the driver’s seat looking a bit shaken up but not too bad, considering. He mentions about his wife, but there’s no sign of her. So we put him on a back board and get him on the ambulance. After a little while there’s a knock on the door and there’s a firefighter standing there. “You’d better come and look at this” he says. So I leave the guy with my mate and I follow him back over to the car. The firefighter points to it and says “Have a good look under there, mate, and tell me what you see.” Well there’s a ton of shit like you might expect – rubble, soil from the garden, a rose bush, all sorts. And then I notice a pink slipper. “Can you figure it out yet?” he says. And that’s when I realised what it was – the guy’s wife was wrapped up under the car, her legs over here… her arms over there… but so caught up in everything you could hardly tell it was a person at all.’
I lean forward in my chair. ‘Was she all right, then?’
‘Of course she wasn’t all right!’ snorts Earle, a new paramedic, boots up on a stool, the labels still stuck on the soles. ‘She’s just been run over by a car, mate! What do you think?’
A pause, and then Frank stands up and saves me with his mug.
‘Anyone for tea?’ he says.


Alexia said...

Spence: am I imagining things?? this is not the same as the first time I read it...

tpals said...

Spence! You've been editing your story.

jacksofbuxton said...

Did your editor have a word Spence?Bit of a re-write there I think.

Spence Kennedy said...

Well - quite a bit of a re-write!

I must admit I was uneasy publishing it the first time, mainly because I thought it was a bit one-sided & mean-spirited. And it was different to the other posts, in that I don't usually open up with all guns like that - I usually try to sneak in a feeling one way or another! Which is probably a better way to go. I know as a reader I hate being 'told what to think' in such a blatant way. It's probably better to try to be just a little bit subtle about it.

It's difficult (and really hazardous) writing about colleagues. It would be quite a lop-sided account of life in the ambulance if you didn't somehow get across a feeling for the different people who work in it, though. But I should have borne in mind that the blog isn't a platform for venting against people I find difficult.

I did feel the piece was unbalanced and probably unfair. That's why I rewrote it.

I did get one comment (sorry anon - it got lost when I pulled the post!) along the lines of: 'Don't you think Earle will read this and punch your lights out?' Whilst I think Earle's almost always just about to punch someone's lights out, I think he'd probably have good reason in this case. It's difficult, trying to write honestly without being mean. I think in this case I definitely lost a sense of balance and lurched into caricature and slander.

But that story about the automatic was too good to waste! (And hopefully it was a toe in the water of that grim, inappropriate ambulance humour that's so difficult to communicate outside of the service as it comes across as heartless!)


Anonymous said...

Ah, so that's where it went...good call.

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks anon. It needed doing...