Every so often I get asked where I get the ideas for my blog. And every so often I get asked why I ever became a paramedic.
Late Saturday night on a dark, twisty, road. The family car is returning its cargo of parents and their three children from a family gathering in a small village, way off the beaten track. The road twists its way back and forth through the undulating countryside. If it wasn't pitch black, the breathtaking scenery all around would show its true desert colours. The road cuts through the sand and rocks on either side with a high-sided cliff one side, and a sheer drop the other. The blind bends hide unseen hazards. The family continues its journey home, totally oblivious to the imminent danger hiding round the very next corner.
The kids in the back are asking the all-time favourite question of "Are we nearly there yet". Ben, the eldest, all of seven years old, is half asleep. Moments before his eyelids give in to the lead weights that are hanging off them, he looks up out the front windscreen, just in time to see the truck coming towards the car, on the wrong side of the road. There's no time for any avoidance manoeuvre, and even if there was, the choice is either hit the rock face, or fall off the edge of the cliff.
The impact was instantaneous, the noise deafening, the damage to the car catastrophic. And then silence. The loudest silence ever. The dust settles, the debris is scattered all over the road, the family is in total shock. Ben is disorientated, confused, dazed. A dull cry comes from his left hand side, and he looks across to see that his brother and sister both seem OK. One of them is on the floor between the seats, the other is lying on the seat itself. He looks at his mum for answers, and finds only more questions. He looks at his dad for an explanation, but finds that just like dad's front teeth, the explanation is missing.
Blood and tears flow freely. A few minutes later an ambulance arrives. It's a military ambulance, and the sight of soldiers confuses Ben even further. They're there because the nearest point of civilisation is an army base, and their medical centre was the first to get the call about the crash. They explain that they're doctors, nurses, paramedics, it's a blur of flashing lights, of people and equipment. They do their best to calm everyone down, to gain the trust of adults and children alike. Ben's initial terror starts to subside once he realises that these soldiers are here on a peaceful mission. They're here to help. Other ambulances arrive, more paramedics, civilian ones this time. The family is divided amongst them to be treated and transported.
I don't remember any more. I was only seven, after all.
Every so often the scene gets replayed in a recurrent dream, when the insomnia finally gives in to exhaustion and a fitful sleep takes over. I guess, in the recesses of my mind, this is why I became a paramedic. I guess, despite the fact that it took me a long time to realise it, that these amazing people were, and still are, my true inspiration.