He lies flat on his stomach in the road, holding her head as still as possible. His dark blue uniform, ballistic vest, highly polished boots and all, normally radiates authority, control and discipline. Right now it portrays none of these, but gives him the courage to see through the job that he's trying to do, and helps him hide his anxiety.
I race to the scene of another RTC. A pedestrian hit by a van. Police on scene requesting urgent attendance of an ambulance. I arrive to see the police vehicle blocking the road, blue lights turning angrily and illuminating the dark surroundings as they spin. It shields the patient on one side, and I drive round to the other, effectively blocking the road completely, and ensuring the further safety of the patient as she lies sprawled and barely conscious in the middle of the road.
As I step out into the road, a smell that hangs in the air almost makes me vomit.
The police officer who was holding the lady's head was shaking as he gave a garbled handover.
"She walked out without looking and got hit. I think she's got a bad head injury".
I ask if he knows if anyone else was involved, and he points to the pavement, where she's sitting, swamped by the same blue, authoritarian uniform, bawling her eyes out. At least she doesn't seem injured. After a few seconds of confusion, I finally grasp the reason the police were there so fast.
They'd hit the patient. Theirs was the van that had hit the pedestrian.
No wonder he was shaking. No surprise that she was crying.
That smell still lingered in the air.
They were on their way to an immediate response call to an ambulance crew calling for police aid after being attacked. Travelling at 60mph, with lights and sirens, they had no chance of stopping as the lady didn't even bother to look or listen before stepping out in front of them. They'd caught her with the wing-mirror.
I leave the officer holding the head whilst I do some basic checks, connect some oxygen, and hope that the ambulance turns up quickly. He's doing a good job of immobilisation, and it helps calm his nerves if he feels he's being useful. Two birds, one stone.
I wish I could find the source of that smell.
The crew turns up, as does an ambulance officer, who I send to check on the sobbing police officer. She's hysterical, but unhurt. It seems she was driving at the time of the accident, and couldn't calm down. Can't say I blame her.
The patient seems to be regaining a little of the awareness that had deserted her since she'd been hit. We move her bags of supermarket shopping away so that we can bring in the bed, the board and other bits and pieces. We've already decided that she has to go to a trauma centre that specialises in head injuries, which is a little further than the nearest hospital, but it's best for the patient. We think she has a fractured skull and she's been unconscious. A bad combination.
As we lift her off the floor, the smell becomes almost unbearable, and I physically heave, but just, and only just, avoid throwing up.
Once she's packaged and in the ambulance, we reassess her, recheck that nothing has changed for the worse, and the crew then get ready to leave. As I jump out, they start the engine, switch on the blue lights, and start moving away. Other police officers are looking after their colleagues, trying to comfort and reassure them. One of them hands me the patient's bags of shopping, including the one that was underneath the patient.
The smell returns.
I look through the bags for anything that will reveal some details on the patient, but all I find is her shopping, a week's worth of groceries. In amongst it all, looking as innocuous as fruit can, was a bunch of over-ripe and very squashed bananas.
I hate bananas.