In the olden days of the ambulance service all vehicles were untraceable. There was a VHF radio system which was open miked and crews had to keep Control updated on their whereabouts at all times so that the folk running things could plan the dispatching of jobs. Sadly, this gave rise to abuse of the system somewhat . . .
Control: G801*, please give your location
Control: . . . . . um, G801, sorry, can you repeat that location please
Control: . . . . . er, G801, I think I may have misheard you. What is your current location please!
G801: BOW – LOCKS!!!!
Control: Sorry G801, my bad, roger that all received, thank you.
Nowadays, everything is computerised – and then attempted to be overlooked by Control. This means jobs are automatically dispatched to the nearest crew no matter where they are. And this gives rise to the game of Tennis as played by the London Ambulance Service . . .
. . . Let me explain; there are two types of LAS tennis. A little like there are two types of Rugby. There is Ambulance Tennis and there is the FRU tennis. Ambulance Tennis happens when you get a call somewhere way away from your current location. You put on your ”blues and twos” (lights and sirens) and head off. Unfortunately, because another crew most likely comes up ”green” (ready to take a job) closer than you, you are inadvertently cancelled from it. But, almost immediately you are given another job – and almost certainly in the opposite direction. You put on the ‘blues and twos’, spin around and head off. And again, very soon you are cancelled – for much the same reason . . . . and so the process repeats.
Its not uncommon to watch an Ambulance shoot one way through the traffic with their sirens and lights blasting, only for them to return a few minutes later going in the opposite direction – and then come back the other way a little time after that.
Its not an even more uncommon event to see two Ambulances racing past each other going to different jobs but in opposite directions. At this stage the crews will always shrug their shoulders as they pass each other.
Then there’s FRU Tennis . . . which I’ve been doing a lot lately. With this you’d be sitting down at station watching TV or something, with a fresh cup of tea in your hand and then you’d get a job come through on your handset radio. You jump up and immediately head to your car. You accept the call and head off at high speed toward the job. About 30 seconds into the drive you are cancelled for some reason or another. So, you head back to station where you then sit down with a fresh cup of tea. But, no sooner than your bum touches the seat you get another job. Unsurprisingly, you head off to the car again and drive off at high speed . . . only to be cancelled again and to repeat the whole process.
After the seventh cancellation its not unusual to come back to station and start tentatively searching around the mess room for cameras which you are certain have been secretly placed by Control to watch your every move and time their job dispatch perfectly with the moment your bum touches the sofa.
I think most folk in this job will agree this tends to happen more often than it should. Its a tough job – but then, somebody’s got to do it . . . I just wish I could finish that cup of tea!
*not the real call sign of course