So this was it . . . 12 weeks in training school and I was behind the wheel of Ambulance about to set off on my first blue call as a driver. The job was a 30 year old with chest pain. My mind raced. Chest pain?!! This could be my first Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack)!!!
We are given three weeks of driver training covering some advanced techniques but sadly we are not allowed to practice driving in London on blue lights. Your only practice time is when you do it for real. Very scary.
My heart pounded and my knuckles tightened round the wheel. I took a deep breath and pressed the button for the blue lights and sirens to operate . . . and then we were off. The medic sitting in the passenger seat beside me sprung to life and pointed manically to the middle of the road, “Go that way! Dominate the road! DOMINATE! DOMINATE!”. I did as he said and like the parting of the Red Sea, the general mass of traffic seemed to move out of our way allowing us to race through . . . apart from the occasional driver – who didn’t!!
On the radio, Apache Indian’s “Boom Shakala” started playing. The medic leant forward, cranked it up to full volume, placed on his aviators, wound down the window and both he and the tech in the back started dancing and singing in unison.
Occasionally, a rather irate driver – put out that they had to move aside for our large yellow taxi – would beep at us and offer up profanities. In response, the medic would lean out the window and shake a fist before uttering an informative decree.
“Get out the way ya fecking eejit!”
This was all a little surreal for my first time driving on blue lights. And as we raced toward what I believed was a patient on the verge of dying*, I was suddenly hit by an overwhelming realisation that working for the Ambulance service wasn’t going to be quite as I imagined . . . . .
*he wasn’t and didn’t