Five o'clock in the morning. A call to a cardiac arrest is not unusual at this hour. It's relatively common for carers, spouses and other family members to find elderly people seemingly asleep in bed, only to discover that they are more than just asleep. This time however, it wasn't an elderly person. It was Jean, a woman in her mid 40's.
Clare came home from a night out to find that, strangely, all the lights were still on at home. Normally, Jean would see her off and go to bed shortly after, trusting that her daughter would come home eventually, safe in the knowledge that she was always with the same group of friends. Normally Clare came home to a quiet, dark house, with just the porch light on to help guide her in. This time it was still quiet, but all the lights were on. An uncomfortable feeling crept over her, and she refused to go in without one of her friends. They both entered cautiously, found no-one downstairs, no signs of a disturbance, so Clare decided it was just a one-off. Mum must have forgotten to turn the lounge lights off. She decided that it was safe for her friend to go, said good-night, turned off the lights, and went upstairs.
The scream that followed was heard 3 doors away.
The call came in as 40 year old female, Cardiac Arrest. Disturbance in the background, police requested. As we pull up outside, in the squalling wind and rain, we find that we are next door to an underground station. A train's just pulled in, and the tannoy announcement can be heard from the street. "All change please, all change. This train terminates here".
We enter the house to find Clare still screaming, lying across Jean's body. "DO SOMETHING, HELP HER!" Jean is beyond any help that we can provide. She's been dead probably for hours. There's no hope at all. However, one of the rules of resuscitation is that if the family request, we have to continue efforts, even if they are clearly pointless. By this point, we're treating the family, not the patient. With no questions asked, the two crews start the resus protocol.
The boxes of anti-depressants lying next to Jean tell a story of their own, as do the bottles of vodka. A quick search of the surroundings shows up one more horrifying fact. There are another 3 children in the house. Clare is the oldest, in her late teens, and the youngest is just 3 or 4 years old.
The resus continues all the way to hospital, and is tragically, but understandably, terminated after only a few minutes by the team in A&E. It's at this point that we fully comprehend the circumstances. Clare has gone from being a full-time teenager to full-time mum. She has three little siblings to worry about now. Her whole life has been turned upside-down in one horrible moment.
The world around carries on as normal, the wind keeps blowing, the rain keeps falling, the trains keep running. But for Clare, the tannoy announcement says it all. All Change.