The Ambulance

Catherine, would you believe that the ambulance arrived a full thirty minutes after the accident. Thirty minutes! It was an eternity. I wanted to collapse with relief but to my horror it wasn’t like the 999 programmes on TV. They seemed at a bit of a loss. They chatted between themselves for a bit then came over and after some debate slid the back board under her but the assistant was clearly a novice so the main ambulance man had to ask the people holding her hand to help him. It didn’t reassure me in the slightest. Hearing her scream as they moved her was horrendous and she kept begging them to straighten her leg but they wouldn’t.

We got into the ambulance and I got the first view of the injury. A mangled mass of flesh and gravel and fat and bone like a burst open sausage. I was sitting by her side, staring straight into it. Now I couldn’t pretend that it would be ok. I could clearly see it wasn’t.

The paramedics told me they’d take her to Preston hospital rather then Blackpool and Joe, who’d gone back to the house to grab me dry clothes and whatever stuff he could think of for Sarah didn’t know. I begged the policewoman to contact him, tell him to go to the different hospital but I could see she wouldn’t. I could see she wanted me to break down. I could see she was hungry for gore and mayhem and didn’t want to leave the scene. She kept looking at me with a glitter in her eyes. I knew she wouldn’t call him. It was one of the more vivid memories of the night, that this woman, who could sooo easily have taken a huge chunk of stress out the situation so clearly didn’t want to help.

Meanwhile the paramedics were trying to find a vein in Sarah’s hand. You now how much she hates injections. Remember when she fainted because she needed those blood tests? Her fright and panic makes her veins shrivel up and disappear. So again, it wasn’t like on TV, no simple needle in and drip up. After fifteen endless minutes of prodding and searching they gave up and decided to just give her gas and air. Except the bottle was empty.

They cut off her coat. Her brand new, gorgeous and dearly loved £90 coat. She was more horrified at the sight of the scissors snipping through the dearly loved denim than by the injections.

The driver of the ambulance called a conference. ‘Which way to Preston?’ he wanted to know. My confidence evaporated a little more.

The paramedic lent me his phone so I could call Joe and the relief when he answered was intense and I told him about the change of hospital. Why had that community police woman been like she had been? What had she gained? I will never ever forget that hungry look in her eyes as she studied my face. She wasn’t a policewoman because she wanted to do good, she was a policewoman because she sucked up trauma like a sponge – and loved it.

Driving in the ambulance, sirens blaring, was surreal. Every bump made Sarah whimper and she was shuddering with cold but every shudder that passed through her caused yet more agony. The neck brace was biting into her chin and collar bone and the blood on her face had mixed with her mascara that had spread far and wide in the rain.

We spoke about all sorts of things on that twenty minute drive but I found myself wanting to promise her the world, anything, anything at all, just to make her want to stay.

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