One thing I have learnt whilst being in the Ambulance Service is the way that different public groups are generally compartmentalised into different categories. For example, The LFB are generally viewed with a sort of wary and suspicious respect by both the LAS and the Police. The feeling, I’m sure, is mutual . . . albeit, I’m pretty sure the LFB look down on us with nothing more than pity and mirth.
London black cabbies are viewed with disdain and mistrust – especially with the predictable fashion in which they always put their arm out their window to wave you on, like they are masterfully controlling the traffic . . . and like we weren’t about to do that any way! And all this after they’ve “surfed the blue wave”, using your emergency call to gain as much distance in front of other drivers as possible before ‘allowing’ you to pass.
And then there are bus drivers . . . loathed with a passion. Admittedly, they do make some effort to get out of your way whilst your blues-and-twos are blasting . . . that is after they too, have gained as much distance as possible AND managed to get to their designated bus stop to drop off their passengers first . . . not caring two hoots whether you can get past or not. But if your lights aren’t on, then, to them, you’re fair game for carving up. Its almost as if they are vengefully trying to make up for every moment we’ve had right of way over them whilst on an emergency call.
Now, obviously I’m generalising here and clearly there are some good apples out there, amongst the billions of bad ones . . . so, I don’t want people to take any of this personally, or seriously for that matter. But its the little things that consistently raise our concerns . . . like their frivolous disregard to the welfare of old age passengers whom are constantly tossed about the bus like rag dolls after accepting, with suicidal naivety, the drivers trust in keeping them safe. Or the way that cyclists lives are at the blood thirsty mercy of these vultures who seem forever hell-bent on ruthlessly hunting down and eliminating every one of them, completing every sadistic purging with a deep sinister satanical laugh that seems to originate deep within the blackened souls that each and every one of them seem to have.
But don’t take that wrong . . . I’m only kidding after all.
However, bus drivers are (apparently) not allowed to physically touch passengers. So, if one of them becomes aggressive then they are to call the police first. This makes perfect sense to me. However, if a passenger falls asleep on their bus then they call us. This, to me, doesn’t make sense . . .
The call came down to us as ’35 year old male – unconscious. Breathing; unknown’. You try not to, but sometimes you just can’t help build a preemptive picture of what to expect from the call before you arrive. And the picture was already in my head. This must have been obvious by the way the bus driver was already squirming as I approached him.
Bus driver: I’m sorry, I can’t wake him. So I had to call y. . .
I cut him off before he could finish.
Binder: Where is he!
Bus driver: Upstairs
I walked onto the top deck of the bus where a well groomed man sat in one of the seats, asleep. He was dressed reasonably well and was clean shaven. I approached and stood beside him.
Binder: Hello sir? Can you hear me?
Binder: Hiya. How ya doing?
Patient: Ok. What station am I at?
Binder: Finsbury Square*
Binder: You want to get off?
Patient: Right. Yes. Yes I do.
He got up, walked down stairs and left the bus. Without aid. I followed a few paces behind, glancing momentarily at the driver. He was busy picking a piece of imaginary dirt from one of his shirt pockets.
Wishing the patient a good night I headed back to the ambulance and chuckled with Marvin, my crew mate.
Marvin: Another life saved.
Binder: Yep. Cue sunset.
We high fived another job completed in our busy night shift.
*not the real location, of course