I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.
Ambulance Days - The Drive
It was just a routine job for us; an AS2, which means a routine hospital admission. My partner and I arrived at the house where we met the GP1 who had called it in. The GP told us that she wanted to travel with the patient, and that the patients wife would be coming as well. We reminded her that they would have to make their own way back, as we might get another call. This didn't leave us much room in the back of the ambulance, as the patient was lying in the trolly cot with the doctor and my partner in the back, so we let the patients wife sit up front with me.
So all loaded up we left in a calm manner, no rush just routine. Then, just as we were on the outskirts of town with another thirteen miles to the hospital, my partner stuck his head into the cab and told me to 'boot it' as the patient had stopped breathing. I switched on the lights and siren then contacted control on the radio telling them what was happening, and asked them to contact the hospital to have a crash team ready for our arrival.
Then I put my foot down and went into emergency mode. The first obstacle I encountered was a Volvo coming up to a junction ahead of me. The driver hit his breaks which sent the load on his roofrack off his car and right into my path! I shouted 'brace' to my partner prior to swerving to avoid hitting the load. We used to use that technique of letting your partner know if you were going to change course or brake hard to give them time to react as they were often working on the patient in the back, and not strapped in. Having avoided that I was now out of town and on the open road, which made progress even better.
While driving in this mode you tend to concentrate so much that you are not aware of anything else because you are looking so far ahead of where you are. We were going along fine when we entered the small village on our route, which is in a valley with steep hills on either side.
Now the vehicles we had then were not very fast and we really had to work at it to maintain speed, so I was using the down slope upon entering the village to give me more momentum to get up the other slope.
A car had pulled out ahead of me and I could see that it was going to slow me down. Looking ahead I could see that there was no traffic on the opposite side of the road, so I pulled over to that side and went past the car and the island in the middle of the road. This worked really good for me as I now had the speed to get up the slope as we left the village. Then I saw this beat up old mini coming to another junction ahead. I just knew inside myself that he was going to pull out in front of me and so it was no surprise to me when he did!
I had to break as there was traffic coming towards me on the opposite side of the road. I gave my usual warning prior to breaking, and could see both the GP and my partner working on the patient as I looked into the mirror. Now I had lost all my speed, and was actually being overtaken by the vehicles I has flew past earlier! It was so embarrasing, especially as I had the 'Blues and Twos' on! Like I said earlier, these ambulances were not all that fast.
I gained more speed by reving up through the gears and the only problems ahead were the 'S' bends and more vehicles to pass. These 'S' bends were a notorious black spot on that road and I knew exactly how to drive round them as I knew this road well.
Once we were past these problems we were soon arriving at the hospital, and I was reversing into the A&E door. I punched in the 'arrived at hospital code' then ran round the back to give my partner a hand with removing the trolly cot from the back and taking the patient in. He was still alive upon arrival, and in fact went on to make a full recovery.
I left my partner in the A&E department and went to fill in my log. I opened the passenger door of the ambulance, as the log was behind the that seat, and was surprised to see the patints wife still sitting there, with her white knuckles clutching her hand bag!
I had completely forgotten that she was there as I had been concentrating so much on the driving. I had to help her out of the seat and take her into A&E, where one of the nurses gave her a hot sweet drink to calm her down. She was in a slight state of shock, but then my partner was always joking about my driving!
Soon we were punching in the code saying that we were clear and hoping that we could return to base to finish the coffee we were having before the call. However it was not to be as, just as we were half way back, another call came in, and we were away again.