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My first blue light run...

Posted Apr 04 2012 11:28am

…lasted a gripping three seconds. We went all of about fifteen yards, maybe twenty. In the middle of the driving course, our DTU was summoned to Greygobble university to stand in for some promotional shots for the course, or so we were told. The closer we got to the time, the more the expectations of us were increased. Klippity was on the phone to our lecturer, Master Limehouse: ‘what’s that? A scenario? You want them to carry out a scenario? Which will be filmed?’ I exchanged looks with Derek and Cruella, our eyes bulging collectively. My heart started pounding. So what if I had been studying for six months – the crucial word being studying – I knew nothing, and I openly admitted it. My main excuse however was that we’d been driving for the last two weeks, and jumping straight into clinical was too much. Klippity hung up – ‘sounds like they want you to do a scenario with some of the second and third years’. He failed to suppress a laugh that said more than words could. It was a ‘rather you than me’ tone with the timbre of ‘oh shit, what have I got you in to’.

We made our way through the traffic to Greygobble. Driving through the entrance, things didn’t feel the same. I recognised these grounds and buildings and they were beginning to know me, but in the fluorescent coloured vehicle and ambulance service uniform, they regarded me differently. Not as an intruder or an imposter, but as something foreign. It was a cool reception, suspicious, unimpressed. The adrenaline of the situation made a potent cocktail with the percy pigs I had devoured just before. There was a buzz that started in my stomach and moved to my head, which felt like an empty container with bees banging against the walls, before moving to my limbs. Outside I tried to keep a calm aspect; inside I was a nervous fuzzy wretch.

Percy's looking a bit pleased: just where are cow and sheep's hands?

‘Okay Jerome, park in a place that is safe, legal and convenient’. It was a phrase we had become well accustomed to. I mouthed the words as he said them. We piled out and were confronted to a tanned Master Limehouse, just back from an exotic holiday. His shirt collar was open and he waved papers with one hand. He was coordinating the university end of things but today he looked more like a marketing executive. ‘Oh fantastic, you guys are in uniform, they’ll love that’. We were bustled out quickly and into the main forecourt on campus. The second and third years in civvies, who were there before us, did not look pleased. We were introduced to the camera crew which consisted of two men, one with a camera, one directing. Their eyes lit up when they saw the uniforms. They didn’t care that we had no clinical experience and could barely do a basic life support scenario, me anyhow. They asked if we could use the DTU to ‘drive’ to the scene. Klippity looked unsure but gave his blessing. ‘With lights on?’ Asked the director. ‘Yes!’ I said over my shoulder, walking towards the cab door. I knew Klippity only needed a little nudge and he would agree, so I decided for him.

Reconstruction of my first blue light run
Derek and I had already agreed that I would drive and he would attend. Cruella was having none of it and stood with the gathering crowds of onlookers. ‘There’s no way in hell I’m taking part in this’ I think were her words, amongst others. I reversed fifteen yards before pressing the ‘999 emergency’ button and starting the lazer show. At a pedestrian pace I advanced fifteen yards and stopped the truck. As we retrieved the Oxygen barrel bag and First Responders bag from the back I couldn’t help having a laugh with Derek, away from the camera. Then it was serious don’t-bother-me-I’ve-got-a-life-to-save look on and into the fray. Our patient was a mannequin. It wasn’t responding and wasn’t breathing – I know, and there I was expecting it to jump up and sing the national anthem. Whilst Derek declared the time of cardiac arrest I raised the legs and faffed around with an airway adjunct to keep the airway open. Then I faffed around some more trying to find an oxygen mask, to the extent that Klippity who had been standing to the side dictating the scenario came over and found it for me. I hoped the camera didn’t pick up my burning face and sheepish look, but cameras never lie. I took over compressions whilst Derek sorted out the defib, by which time they called for the scenario to end. I wandered on what clinical authority they could terminate a resuscitation. Surely they know it can only be called by someone with a higher clinical authority than us and on valid grounds for termination, and should be done with the consensus of the team involved. Then I remembered it was a mannequin.

Kiss of life anyone?
I asked Klippity how he thought it went. He laughed, again. Why was he laughing so much? ‘It was really good actually. I saw what they were recording and at one stage it was on your face and you looked over to Derek with this look as if to say ‘we’re not gonna lose him Goddamit’. We did a final parting shot driving into the distance for the camera. The speed dial was hovering around the unholy speed of about twenty miles an hour, blue lights flashing proud. A major milestone had been achieved that day – I had done my first blue light run. The patient, on the other hand, didn’t fare so well. 
Kiss of life anyone?

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