And so, with no pomp or circumstance whatsoever, it came to an end. A mundane call just before six o'clock in the morning, a simple handover to the crew, and a slightly solemn and very lonely drive back to station. I don't know what I was expecting or hoping for.
Almost five years ago, I started it for the first time. It lasted 6 months, and I hated almost every minute of it. I stuck at it because it was challenging and different, but I still couldn't stand it. At the end of the allocated half-dozen moons, you couldn't see me for dust in my haste to get away. Maybe I was just too young and inexperienced, maybe I was just lacking in confidence. Whatever it was, I was pleased it was over.
Almost two years ago, through lack of choice and with fear and trepidation, I went back to it. Last week it came to a halt, again through no choice of my own. My time on the FRU, the single-manned (personed) Fast Response Unit, has ended. All the things I hated about it the first time round, I loved this time, and I will sorely miss. I guess I'd grown up a little in the interim, and eventually started to feel at home in the FRU.
The most appealing is the challenge of having to think on your own, often for extended periods of time, and sometimes with very ill patients.
Starting a resus on your own and having to carry it out with no back-up for quarter of an hour.
Managing the asthmatic patient who's deteriorating before your very eyes.
Relieving the pain in the elderly patient who's fallen and fractured their hip.
And being unable to transport any of them.
Delivering a baby and praying for it to take its first breath.
Supporting the dislocated shoulder of a brave kid and watching them get drunk on entonox.
Sticking a plaster, or a band-aid, depending on where you are, on an adult who's behaving like a spoilt child.
And telling him so.
Being the first at the scene of a suicide attempt, working hard to save a life, only to see the patient whisked off in the ambulance or the helicopter, and staying at the scene filling in paperwork.
Being the first at the scene of a fatal accident, and having to call it before anyone else even turns up.
Being the first at the scene of a cardiac arrest, a terminally ill cancer patient, and grieving with the family.
And being left alone with your thoughts and a cup of coffee.
Travelling with a crew and them hating you for pulling rank.
Travelling with a crew and them loving you for pulling rank.
Travelling with a crew and the patient thanking you all. Together.
And having to justify it all. To control, to the crew, to the patient, to yourself.
Now, it's back to a mix of real ambulances and a few FRU shifts, but it won't be my car.
It'll be nice to have someone to share with, someone who I can look at over my shoulder when I'm unsure, and hopefully vice versa, someone to sing along to the radio with between and on the way to calls.
They say, whoever they are, that a change is as good as a holiday. Truth is, I could really do with one right now. It's just that I'll miss being at home.
Who'd have thought it?