I don’t think there’s enough attention to the other emergency services, like the LFB, in blogs. I’ve only written about them once – really. So here’s one job I went to mid winter early in 2010 . . .
The job came down as “possible drowning”. Still new to several job categories you can imagine how nervous and excited I was to be going to something like this. Was I going to find a dead body floating in the river??? I remember leaping from the ambulance before we’d even stopped and racing down the canal path to search for the patient – much to the amusement of my crew mate. I eventually found the caller, a young Bengali female, who led me to the patient and filled me in on the story . . .
It turns out the patient was an 18 year old Bengali lad who had bought his young girlfriend (the caller) a little kitten. They’d been playing with it on top of a bridge over a canal late this evening when the poor cat slipped and fell down the wall, landing in a bush, narrowly missing falling directly into the water. The young lad, in all his manly glory raced down to save it. Seeing that the only way to get to the cat was to swim across the canal from the path, he bravely jumped in – in all his clothes plus coat – and swam across, breaking the thin ice as he did so. He was eventually able to join the cat perched on the tiny mud ledge, in a bush, at the bottom of a thirty foot wall, under the bridge. Here he remained slowly freezing to death until his girlfriend decided to call us.
“How you doing?” I shouted across to the lad. In the dim street lighting, provided above, I could just make out his shape on the other side of the canal.
“N-n-n-n-n-not g-g-g-g-g-g-g-good-d-d-d-d . . . . s-s-s-s-s-sooooo c-c-c-c-c-cold”
“How’s the cat?”
“Oh that’s good then”
Quickly ascertaining that he was not immediately in any trouble and that I needn’t be as stupid and jump in also, I started working out ways of getting him out. It was a sheer wall above him which continued to his right for about thirty yards before opening to a grass bank, which could be accessed from the road above. To his left the was the short tunnel going under the bridge.
“Can you move?” I shouted.
“You think you can get to that bank to your right?”
“N-n-n-n-no . . . t-t-t-t-t-too c-c-c-c-c-cold”
Without hesitation I called Control and asked for the LFB to be deployed.
“They’re on their way”, was the quick reply.
Eventually my crew mate arrived on the bridge above with an FRU. They peered their heads over the wall and looked down. It may have been the wind but I’m sure I heard them giggling. I informed them what I’d done.
“What?!” my crew mate’s head was silhouetted in the street light above her but it looked like she stood bolt upright.
“Yep, LFB are on their way – eta five”
“You called Trumpton?!” I could just about hear her describing what I’d done to the FRU. He said something back to her and they both started laughing.
Within ten minutes three fire trucks were on scene and firemen were racing around deciding how to get the lad back. Two police cars had also arrived and had sealed off the road. My crew mate and the FRU retreated back to the ambulance where they said they would “stand by”. Here they remained chatting and smoking cigarettes.
The LFB eventually produced an inflatable dinghy which four of the firemen, dressed in dry suits and buoyancy aids, got ready to man. There was now a long line of heads peering over the bridge wall watching in excited silence as the boat crew got in and slowly paddled across. Other firemen lined the banks behind me shining powerful torches across at the patient.
There was silence.
The boat drifted across and within seconds they’d made contact with the patient. After helping him into the boat there were a couple of claps and a few grunts of approval.
But it wasn’t until one of the firemen prised the little kitten from the safety of its branch that the everyone, as one, burst into applause and cheered. The fireman held the kitten aloft like a trophy and the crowd went wild.
Eventually, the kitten was handed to the girlfriend who took it home, the police re-opened the road and our patient was assisted to ambulance where we set about warming him up.
“W-w-will the cat be ok-k-k-k-kay?”
“Don’t you worry yourself there fella . . . I think he’ll be just fine”
So, there you have it – even the LFB can have a laugh at themselves over one of their well earned nick-names . . . Pet Rescue.