March 15th, 2010

Time warps

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

We get a lot of complaints from people who are not satisfied with the time it took police to get to them. Quite often someone will ring 999 to report something & will ring back 5 minutes later to ask where police are. I expect that on some occasions it can be quite frightening & disconcerting thinking the police are taking their time, but unfortunately, no matter what is happening, we in the control room aren’t yet able to teleport officers to the scene a la Star Trek.

Sometimes when you get a log complaining that the police took too long, you go back & check the details of the original job to check the times. Someone might complain that it took an officer 20 minutes but the reality was that they actually arrived within about 7 minutes. People find this hard to believe.

I think it is something in the human psyche which elongates time under times of stress. (it’s probably why an 8 hour shift seems to last 12 hours)

I was once called to the scene of a road traffic accident. A motorcyclist was wending his merry way through the countryside at quite high speeds. He went round a bend & hadn’t reckoned on line of traffic queueing to get into a car boot sale on some farmer’s field on a road between two rural towns.

I was on my own & we were about 15 miles from the nearest town. The motorcyclist’s leg was badly broken. The shin bone had snapped & the bottom part of the leg was dangling at an unfeasable angle. He had a really bad gash on the top of his thigh & blood was literally pumping through his jeans.

As I ran back to the car for the first aid kit, I called up control to make sure an ambo was on route (& some other help). I got back to the motorcyclist who was thrashing about & unbelievably trying to get up. I had to get some of the car drivers to hold him down. I applied some wound pads with bandages to his leg but it was like sticking a cotton wool ball in a swimming pool. I exhausted the contents of my first aid kit & had tied probably 5 or 6 wound dressings on. In the end I just packed them all as tight as possible & pushed them against his leg with my hands as hard as I could. Stemming the flow of blood with one hand & operating the radio with the other is an art.

The ambulance took about 3 weeks to get there. I probably called up 2 or 3 times to check when it was going to get there, as if calling on the radio would speed it up. Time just seemed to elongate completely & what in all probability took 12 or 13 minutes seemed like half an hour at least.

Thinking back there are a couple of occasions when I’ve needed immediate assistance & waited for an age. There is no finer sound that the old police sirens when you’re lying on the ground fighting with someone half your age, believe me, two minutes is long enough.

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