It's a relatively rare thing for me to drive the ambulance, unless of course, I'm solo responding in the Fast Response Unit. I'm almost always more comfortable in the back, with the patients, and allowing someone else to pilot the ship around the never deserted streets of London. Apart from anything else, it's the driver's job to tidy up if there's any mess at the end of each call, and I'll happily pass on that duty.
Just for once, I fancied a change, and so took up the position of helmsman, and watched as another newbie took control of the patients.
The screen rings and displays a message about a choking baby, turning blue. Not normally known for being the fastest of drivers, my lead foot takes over and we cover the couple of miles at warp factor 9. As we turn into the quiet cul-de-sac, the computer updates us that the baby is now breathing normally and no longer choking. Even the ambulance breathes a sigh of relief.
We're met at the front door by the baby, cradled in his mother's arms. Mum's eyes tell a tale of their own, bloodshot and swollen, the drying streaks of tears running the length of both cheeks. Newbie is a little lost, not yet having learnt the art of treating a now non-existent problem. We talk to mum, find out what happened, and discover that once again we're meeting a baby who probably tried to inhale its milk rather than drink it. All is calm, except the excitable older sibling bouncing Tigger-like on the couch and telling us how they once had a fire engine and an ambulance come to school. I ask to take a look at the baby, and mum hands him over. A quick check, a listen to the lungs, a look at skin colour, an assessment of mood, and everyone's happy that a disaster has been averted.
We offer to transport mum and baby, and discover that Tigger will have to come with too, as no-one else is around to babysit. Mum wants to go, just for peace of mind, and I can understand. I stay holding on to the baby whilst newbie writes down all the details necessary and mum gets organised with all the essentials. The vast majority was already packed in a baby bag, and it just involved getting dressed and making a bottle.
As soon as we were ready to leave, I try to give the baby back to mum. He clings and refuses her outstretched arms. Flattered I may be, but now we have a problem.
"Well", I suggest, unlooping the ambulance keys from my belt and handing them to mum, "I guess that means you're on driving duties!"