Another day in the office.

So today I am on shift and so far I have spent the entire day at home.

I am on call.

In fifteen minutes time my shift will end and I’ll clock off meaning that the past twelve hours have seen me do sod all.

Okay that’s not strictly accurate. I have tackled the immense pile of washing up in the kitchen, rendering it down to nothing but a stubborn stain on a pan. Said pan is now soaking and will be dealt with once I have finished with this post. I have also completed the majority of this month’s Open University assignment, watched three episodes of ‘Luther’ and racked up a few more wins for my team on Fifa 13.

I’ll be on shift again tomorrow, and although that will be a Saturday shift and guaranteed to be, ahem, busier, I’m hoping to be home for at least a few hours. The wife’s planned our annual ‘family scoff’ tomorrow whereby we all gather at my mother-in-laws to ‘scoff’ as much food as possible before playing cards or board games.

It’ll be fun, it always is but I can’t deny that I wouldn’t mind be called out at least once. It’s not the end of the world if I don’t get a call, I get paid either way, but if I am called then I can claim for fuel used. My current car can do approx 700 miles to a full tank which costs me about seventy English pounds. Now, I claim about £15 for a 60 mile round trip. I only need five call outs, or 300 miles to make my money back for fuel. Not bad eh?

Yes I know the cars taking a hammering on mileage but when you consider that to most people money spent on fuel is dead money – they’ll never see it again, then it’s not that bad. I put that money that I claim back for mileage into a separate account which I save specifically for car repairs/servicing etc.
I’m lucky. I know that. I’ve fallen on my feet in a job that is for the most part pretty straight forward. It has its moments of course, and a fuck up in this line of work could see me imprisoned but if I keep a clear head and follow the rules then hopefully that will never happen.

Having spent the last few years in a job where I was returning home tired, angry and generally despondent, it was right to jump ship and search for something new. It was entirely possible of course that leaving everything I had come to know and depend upon could of backfired, but like I said, I’ve been lucky.

Even if I hadn’t fallen on my feet, I still think it was the right thing to do in jumping ship. I couldn’t bare the thought of working the same job for another ten years, then looking back and wondering what happened to those years.

I’d advise anyone who is waking up in the morning and thinking about ways to avoid going in for the day to have a long hard think about how they want to spend the next ten years.

I did.

Work work busy busy chop chop

Unusual title for a post isn’t it? That’s something my Dad has been saying for as long as I can remember. Even now, whenever I’ve got a lot of work to do I think of those words and hear them play in my mind as though they are a recording. It’s never my voice either, but my Dad’s. This is a good feeling because many moons from now when he’s gone the way of the Dodo, I  won’t just have a memory, I’ll have his voice. Its just a shame my mind couldn’t have recorded something more poignant or philosophical. Still, there are worse things it could have remembered. Imagine for example if it had been ‘Mark, you’re an idiot.’ I don’t think those words would get me through a hard time when no one else can, rather they’d probably finish me off.

So, work work busy busy chop chop. These words ring in my mind and spur me to get up and get on with the job in hand, and I believe they always will.

The current big job I have on at the moment is supplying electric to my garage. I’ve never done anything like this in my entire life but that doesn’t mean I can’t.

My garage is about sixty feet from my house, across a road. Getting electric out there has been an absolute bastard of a job but this week has seen some real progress. As it happens, my neighbour already has an electric supply in his garage which is next to mine. How he got a supply out there and under the road between our houses and garages is a mystery that will probably die with him but hey, I’m not complaining. I had a chat with him last month and he agreed to let me use his supply in return for a small payment towards his electric bill now and again.

Over the following few weeks I’ve slowly been gathering supplies (lights, sockets,  cable etc) in preparation for the big install and that time has finally arrived. Yesterday I got my trusty spade out and dug a trench ten inches deep for about sixty feet between my garage and the neighbours supply. I placed my armoured cable into conduit and then packed it sand within my trench before backfilling the whole shebang. Took most of the afternoon but it’s done! I can now look forward to wiring up my sockets and lights over the coming days. I predict I’ll have working lights by the end if this week.

There are times I’ve not wanted to even begin, the sheer amount of work in front has been simply mind boggling and deeply off putting. But then those words play in my head once more and I’m off, spade, hammer, screwdriver or whatever in hand and hard at work til the jobs done.

When the whole things finished I’m going to have a plaque made up and nailed to one of the garage walls with those words on. Then I’ll invite the old man round to admire my finished work over a can of beer or two.

Looking forward to it.


Strange but true…

I am near-psychic. It’s true.

If you call 999, ask for an ambulance, and I turn up, I can pretty much guess which house is yours. I don’t need to look at a number to get my bearings either, which really freaks out the new recruits.

There are some things that need to be true first before I can call upon this ‘gift’, but ultimately it almost never fails.

Time for an example.

I am called to a residential home for a ‘grey lady down’, which basically means an old dear has taken a nose dive somewhere in the building. I don’t need to know the layout of the building. As we drive up, I’ll take a quick look at which bit I think is the least accessible part of the building, and that’s where she’ll be. If it’s a three story building with no lift, she will definitely be on the top floor. If it’s one of those sprawling amalgamations of seven buildings knocked into one, she’ll be at the back somewhere, probably wrapped around a toilet.

This is 100% certifiable truth. I cannot explain it. It just is.

It also follows that, the higher up in the building you are, the more likely it is that you’re going to be really unwell. Again, I cannot figure this one out either.

I’ve just been to one actually, which prompted me to write about it. Number 67 it said on my job box. I looked at the building as I approached and knew from memory that it didn’t have too many rooms. There was a high possibility that my patient was very sick too.

Sure enough, number 67 was on the third floor, at the back of the building. Walking from the front door, which is the only way in by the way, you simply could not have chosen any other room that would have been further away.


People never ever consider the emergency services when they chose where they are going to live.

Some people are DIY enthusiasts and landscape artists extraordinaire – they create a beautiful garden with shingle pathways, thousands of steps on multiple levels, and an phalanx of Rose bushes and other deadly pointy plant things for the poor paramedic to negotiate.

On one memorable occasion I visited a house that had a garden just like this. I swear the house itself was built on top of a hill. The old boy who lived there had clearly been involved in some D-Day action. Possibly on the side of ze Germans as his house was nigh unapproachable. I can’t imagine I would have been too surprised if I’d heard a machine gun open up on us.

So we arrive in the house, pouring with sweat and cursing a multitude of thorny sores and find this old boys wife on the floor. She’s clearly broken her hip given the amusing angle her left leg is in. She has also, along with her husband, clearly enjoyed life as she’s bigger than both my colleague and me put together.

I can still remember it clearly. I was none too pleased having to hump all that equipment up into the house, knowing full well it was all going to have to come back down again, but the moment I had been waiting for had arrived.

You have to appreciate that this couple have lived in that house for virtually half of their lives and not even considered what would be required if x happened or if y collapsed and broke her hip.

I explained to her what she had done and that we needed to get her to hospital. She just nodded at first, and I just sat there and waited……

And then light dawns. Her face creases into a frown as realisation hits home.

How the hell are we going to lift her out of that position and then negotiate that beautifully, well thought out garden?

She looks at me and I nod. Welcome to my train of thought Mrs Goodlife.

I can’t say it was fun or easy getting her out of her house and down into the ambulance, but we managed. Admittedly it took five people to do it but that’s the way it had to be.

I can’t say she enjoyed the experience either, being carried ever so gracefully like a flying elephant down her lovely landscaped garden whilst half the street looked on, drawn like moths to the two ambulances and the fast response car parked outside her house.

The old boy was great. As we descended with our precious ‘cargo’, he ran on ahead, helpfully clipping Rose bushes with a pair of scissors. I can’t say it made a huge amount of difference, but it was amusing.

So there you have it. Inaccessible places are the haven of accidents and ill health. Take my word for it.

I’m psychic you know.


Death by PowerPoint

I am on CPD today.

CPD stands for Continuing Professional Development.

I hate it.

The only upside to attending CPD is that it’s a day off from the normal grind.

Every registered professional in the health service has to do it at least once per year. It’s where we go to ensure that if nothing else, we are up to date with the most fundamental changes to our practice. I guess this satisfies the Department of Health though.

It’s not the trainers fault that it’s so dull, though they don’t help themselves. I mean, who wants to sit in front of power point presentations for eight hours? Booooooring. I am of the belief that it is impossible to learn this way. I mean, I’m on my lunch break now and I have completely forgotten the entirety of this mornings ‘teaching’.

I upset the teacher too. He caught me nodding with my eyes closed. This is his first teaching gig and he’s eager to impress. He goes through each slide with such relish I can actually visualise him abusing himself over this crap behind closed doors.

So I upset him when I nodded off. I could really care less.

Only a few hours left now. I’ve sat here counting the lunch hour down and drinking anything that contains caffeine. The teachers will have their eye on me now and will gleefully single me out for awkward questions should I nod off again.

I may ask them to repeat the presentation if they do.

‘I’m sorry, I missed that bit. Could you repeat it please?’


‘Yes, all of it. I haven’t heard a word you’ve said.’

Should be a fun afternoon.


Shackles (Care in chains)

I am immensely pissed off.

For those of you who are unaware of the line of ‘work’ I am tied to, I work for the ambulance service as a paramedic. Now don’t get me wrong, I still believe in the role and am still touched with a vague sense of warmth mixed with a bit of smug that I am able to call myself a paramedic. Sadly, due to the NHS being led by a bunch of… ahem… tossers, I see people put at risk everyday. It’s all I can do not to rip off my epaulettes and scream my dissent.

Every facet of the NHS is target driven. None more so than the ambulance service. For obvious reasons we need to get to the address of a given incident within a ‘target’ time. For a life threatening emergency that target is eight minutes. This is great if you’re the patient. Its even better if you live in a town, because chances are, there will be an ambulance floating about looking for death when you need one.

But what if you live a bit further out?

The performance of the ambulance service is judged on how often they ‘hit’ their targets. That means that for every patient we get to within eight minutes – we’ve done a good job. To put it another way, a much more realistic way in fact is to say this:

We get to a patient in nine minutes and that patient lives to see another day. This is a fail.

We get to a patient in eight minutes and that patient dies. This is a success.

What the f*!k? Why does this happen?

Well, in our managements infallible judgement, listening to a 999 call come in and deciding on the best level of a response before it is sent is a complete waste of time. Apparently, its far better to have an ambulance light up like a christmas tree and accelerate to warp speed in the direction of that call – as soon as the switchboard has identified a 999 call coming from an address. Bare in mind that an ambulance, and certainly a fast response car will eat up the road between the address and their initial location very quickly – chances are they’ll be with you before the operator has even worked out what you’re calling for. Sounds great doesn’t it? Thats such a fast response and management pat each other on the back and there is much rejoicing in the control room. Then, the paramedic on scene calls up. He’s angry. He wants to know why he was diverted off of an asthma attack ten miles away to attend a patient with a hurty knee.

Oh yeah, that’s right… he never would have got to the asthma attack in eight minutes. Congratulations management. Oh, before you celebrate by playing golf or I don’t know, blowing each other – can you please tighten my shackles?

I am going to stop writing here. I could say much, much more. Yet I am playing a dangerous game moaning about this anyway.

Those who work in the NHS will know of the shackles we all wear as we try to perform our duties.

I just wish the patients could see them too.