The Nation's Health + RTC

Welcome To The Jungle

Generally, despite it being a weekend, I like working on Sunday mornings. The roads are quiet, people don't tend to be drunk and more often then not, people don't swear as much. Unfortunately, it was raining and cold! By raining, I mean absolutely pissing it down and by cold, I mean absolutely, unequivocally, smuggling peanuts weather! It was just after 6am, still pitch black outside and no where was open that sold decent coffee. My usual Sunday optimism was waining somewhat! We drove out of station into the downpour and started heading for the nearest Wild Bean Cafe. I'm assured that it's 'gourmet on the go' but it really isn't. It's tepid pond water at best, but beggars can't be choosers! In this kind of weather there is one job you don't want to get and that's.....

"RTC, car on roof, patient trapped, injuries unknown"

Uuurrrggghh! We lit the roof up and off we went. As we approached the traffic lights ahead, the fire brigade came swinging round the corner. At this time of the morning, I couldn't deal with them trying to take over so I accelerated somewhat! Luckily for us, about a mile up the road was a width restriction that they had to open a gate for. We however were able to squeeze through the normal restriction so off we went, waving at them as we did. The guys in the back laughed, the driver looked positively livid! Build a bridge.....and get over it!

We were greeted on the road in question by the frantic wave of a man standing IN the road. He continued to wave even as we were slowing down to stop. He then came running to the door, trying to talk to me before I could get out! When I could eventually get out he was more intent on telling me it wasn't his fault than what happened! Over 30 feet from the kerb, deeply embedded in one of the biggest bramble bushes I've ever seen was a car, upside down with the wriggling arms of our patient waving around.

We headed over to the car, our patient was alive, not complaining of any pain, but was well and truly stuck....upside down and seat belted in! By all accounts the car had rolled 2-3 times before settling in the bush! As Gun'n'Roses once said 'Welcome to the jungle, we've got fun and games'. Well quite, although it was more of a rain forest than jungle and getting her out would be no fun at all! It was a 3 seater and her door was jammed. Due to the bramble bush she was in, the passenger side wasn't accessible so the boot was the only option!

Due to the foliage and the fact the car was on its roof, the boot would only partially open, just enough for me to ungainfully squeeze in. As I did so the fire brigade came over on mass! I wriggled my way through to the front of the car! It is very disorientation, crawling on a roof with the steering wheel above you! I hit my head on the gear stick! The patient was in good spirits but now complaining of some neck pain. I got the collars passed through the broken window and muddled my way through sizing and fitting it! That WASN'T easy! I positioned myself in such a way that I could hold her head still. It involved lying on my back, legs outstretched the length of the roof and holding her head from the front! Not ideal, but as the saying goes, improvise, adapt and overcome.

Once I had her head, I could do nothing else! My crew mate and the fire brigade came up with a plan and implemented it! It involved a lot of cutting equipment, a lot of noise and the kind of lifting manoeuvre the the Health & Safety executive would break into a sweat over! It took almost an hour of the door and boot to be cut off, the back seats to be removed and enough shrubbery to be cleared to make extraction possible! An hour is a long time to sit in the same uncomfortable position with your arms outstretched!

During the hour though I got to know my patient very well! I learnt about her life, her children, her taste in music and her hobbies! She also learnt about mine! She was referring to my son by name and I hers. An audio recording of our conversation couple have been mistaken for one between friends in a pub despite there being absolutely carnage going on around us! It was one of those moments in my career I will look back on fondly, not because I saved a life or did anything particularly special, but because I had a laugh with someone who was upside down, whilst I was laying on my back, in a bramble bush, in the rain, surrounded by fireman! Wait.....am I dreaming?!

Eventually, we were ready to more her! Somehow, 3 fireman managed to squeeze in the car with me, a spinal board was slid in, her legs were support with straps and she was slowly lowered onto her front on the board. She was then slid out the boot, then log rolled onto her back onto another spinal board that had materialised! I clambered out after her and we got her into the warm! It was only then that I was told my arms and face were bleeding! Clearly I caught then on the brambles and/or broken glass somewhere along the way! Oops!

I met her again 4 hours later when she was being discharged! It was nice to there was no injuries and nice to say goodbye properly! It seems weird never seeing someone again that knows you so well!

NB: Trumpton banter aside, the fire service do a bloody good job, for crap money, and were fantastic on this job. I may give the daffodils a hard time but we are all the same team and I couldn't do what they do! (hate sitting around!!) Sorry, couldn't help it!

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