Archive for December 30th, 2007

December 30th, 2007

One Misty Night…cont’d

Posted in The Job - Experience by 200

The reason for this post in two parts has nothing to do with wanting to leave a cliff-hangar a-la Eastenders at the end in some attempt to make you want to come back to read the rest of it. No, it was more to do with the fact that I wanted to keep my one-blog-every-day run going a little longer and I didn’t have time to complete it yesterday before going to work, so I kind of just abandoned it but posted it anyway.

If you haven’t read the first part, take a scroll down or click the link before reading Part Two, herewith enclosed….


He’s motionless in the driver’s seat. The first thing you notice when you actually stick your head into the car to check him out is the overwhelming smell of stale alcohol. I’m not sure if that’s the right expression, stale alcohol, it’s the smell you get after someone has been in the drunk cell for a few hours. I guess many people know the smell when their partner has been on the booze.

The cause of the accident has already forumlated in your mind; the road went round a left hand bend, the car didn’t. Oak trees which have survived two hundred years take a bit more than a listless Ford Escort to make them give way.

You’ve already shouted at the man in the car, several times, before you called on the radio for an ambo and some assistance. You’re single-crewed, you have several priorities which scream out at you like a devil & angel on your shoulder. "Safety – life-saving – help, safety – life-saving – help". Help is on the way, it’ll probably be 15 to 20 minutes if the road conditions are favourable in the other towns.

You feel for a pulse, you try the neck first almost ramming your fingers into the flesh below the chin, at the side of the Adam’s Apple. Nothing. Is it nothing because there isn’t one or because you just can’t find it? You’re not an expert. You try the wrist, still nothing. It’s then you notice the gash right across the far side of his face. You shine your torch into the face, checking the eyes for any reaction but not really looking into them, looking into the gash. It’s long and deep, maybe he hit his face on the steering wheel. There isn’t much blood. Strange considering how deep and nasty is the cut. Then you realise that maybe his heart stopped beating at the moment of impact and there was no machinery to pump the blood out from the confines of a body.

"Safety – life-saving." You run back to the patrol car, grab some blue lamps and signs and carry them beyond the crashed car laying them out to form some kind of force field you hope will protect you if the next person coming the same way is as drunk as the last. You’re out of breath. Even fit people take the strain when they’re out there, in the dark, with dead people, hoping someone doesn’t wipe them out too.

You pass details over the radio, details someone in a warm, air-conditioned room will want to type into a computer so other people in offices can fine-tooth comb it tomorrow.

You go back to the car, crouch beside what used to be a young man. You look into his face and ask yourself why. You wonder about others tucked up in a warm bed somewhere, some of whom will be woken long before dawn. They won’t rest the same ever again. He’ll be their son, their brother, their husband maybe. Not any more.

Eventually through the mist the flashing glow of blue lights appear. The armchair philosophy of the last ten minutes is disturbed as your role takes over again. They come, the paramedics, the colleagues, the accident investigators, the undertakers and the recovery crews. They go soon enough and once again you’re alone at the side of some misty lane in the middle of nowhere.

The oak will heal in time, new bark will replace that which was ripped out by twisted metal and shattered glass. The oil will disappear over time, the broken glass will disipate across the countryside by thousands of tyres from unknowing drivers of vehicles.

The mist is lifting now and the light oozes across the fields. It’s time to go home. You need your sleep. You need to be ready….for the next one.