Soon we are flying or so it seems. Willing the ambulance to go faster. Thankfully, the roads are clear. Thankfully, my crew mate got new lead boots for Christmas, or so it seemed! Thoughts of this call being not as given run through my head. My crew mate for the day and I barely say two words to each other, which is unusual. Normally the mickey taking flows. Not now. We remain focused and hoping. Hoping this call is a mistake. We arrive on scene to find an FRU already stranded in the road outside the address. Abandoned quickly. Door not quite shut, left ajar in haste.
I grab my paramedic bag and run for the house. The front door is already open. I knock and go straight in. The scene of festive cheer in front of me immediately throws me. 4 children. Laughing. Playing. Shouting. Enjoying their day. Wrapping paper strewn within a 15 foot fall out zone that is the norm on Christmas day. For a split second I think the job’s not as given after all. Then a sudden realisation. Where is the FRU person? Where are the Parents? Remaining as calm as possible and with as much happiness as I can muster I ask the children where our colleague has gone and they point me upstairs without so much as looking up from their festivities.
Leaving behind the raucous laughter and happiness I make my way upstairs. Mary’s Boy Child by Boney M is playing softly alongside muffled and calm voices as I walk towards the bedroom door. Hung on the door, in anticipation of a morning of rejoice and celebration, a suit. Jacket, waistcoat and trousers. Festive red bow tie and crisp white shirt. All in miniature size. A size to fit a child. My heart lurches and I push the door open. Inside, the FRU paramedic is stooped slightly with her back to the door. In front of her is a bunk bed. Sat on the lower bed is a woman, rocking gently back and forth, quietly talking. The FRU paramedic straightens up and turns to me, drops her eyes and sadly shakes her head. As the FRU para moves out of the way I see that the woman is holding a small child in her arms. Gently kissing his head. His tiny body motionless apart from the rocking prompted by his mother. Dressed in pyjamas he looked asleep. Peaceful. Safe.
Mum looks up from her child and thanks me for coming, a wan smile on her face she also wishes me Merry Christmas. I nod, my gaze now dropped to the floor and I shift my feet from side to side, not knowing how to respond appropriately. Mum continues to talk to her child for a few moments more then becomes quiet, her eyes now shut. A single, fat tear rolls down her cheek. An awkward silence envelopes the room broken only when a man then joins us. Tall with a commanding presence he says hello and he too thanks us for coming. His gaze glassy but full of emotion. He is a larger version of the boy in Mum’s arms. This must be Dad. Numb with sadness and seeing that the FRU paramedic is now struggling with emotions I say that we’ll give them some time with their son but we’ll have to do some checks in a short while and we leave the room.
Stood on the landing we all have a moment lost in our own thoughts. Some tears shed, all silently wishing this wasn’t happening. Not today. Not at all. Not ever. Police and a duty officer are called to scene – formalities for situations like this. Still downstairs are the siblings. Blissfully unaware. Composure and strength regained we knock on the bedroom door. Certain procedures needed to be done. The parents leave us to do the formal part of our job and we continue in hushed tones and a great, overwhelming sense of sadness.
He had died some time during the night. He looked peaceful. Apparently, he always liked a lie in. Liked his sleep. But he had Cystic Fibrosis. A mild form that was being managed and wasn’t giving him much trouble of late. He had been well and very excited before going to bed last night. Ready for Father Christmas. His stocking hung on his bed ready…