Tuesday, 6 December 2011


Two faces in the dead of night, staring out of the front windscreen of a destroyed car. One's talking to me,  bragging, apologising, part regaling in their achievements, part regretting their actions. He tells me of their drink fuelled night, how they argued over who would drive, how they agreed that they'd have one go each at making the car fly over the bridge. His friend is quiet, eyes staring into the distance.

They succeeded. The police estimated that they must have been driving at over a hundred miles an hour when they hit the brow of the hill. The car's front was unrecognisable, make and model only clear from the back, airbags deployed all around. As we strap him down to a board, hoping to prevent any further injury, he tells us that once they'd left the road, the car just seemed to fly sideways instead of straight, and there was nothing they could do. In the meantime, the police dealt with his friend.

He kept saying that he wasn't brave enough to drive that fast, and when they failed the first time, they turned around, lined up again, changed seats, and had another go. He talked to us all the way to hospital, barely noticing any checks we did, any treatments we provided, just boasting about their tricks, about how impressed he was with his friend, the one we'd left on scene.

"Car's a write-off, isn't it?"

"I'd guess so."

"How come you guys got me out first? Is it because I was making so much noise?"

"Something like that, yeah."

"Well, my leg is smashed, isn't it?" It was. 

"Guess my mate's OK then, he didn't seem too hurt, just sitting back like that in his chair." 

A police officer travelling with us shuffles uncomfortably in his seat, and gives me a quick look. He makes a few more notes in his pocket book, checks once more for our call sign, and asks the passenger again what happened. He goes through the stories again, tells how they took a longer run up the second time round, makes sure that we know that he wasn't driving, that his friend was.

"I was in the driver's seat first time, but we didn't take off. So he took over. Called me all sorts of things for chickening out. But he did it! It was so cool! Shame we hit that fence though, won't be able to do it in that car again!"

It wasn't the fence that was the problem. It was the street light after the fence, the one that had smashed through the roof and the windscreen of the car. On the driver's side. The passenger, our patient, notices the looks, senses the unease. 

"Is my friend OK? Is there another ambulance looking after him? How come you didn't get him out too?" His world crashes in around him as the reality dawns, and he shouts. "I asked you, is he OK?"

I look across at the officer, who gives me an almost imperceptible nod of the head. 

"No. He's not OK. He's dead." 

Suddenly, silence engulfs the ambulance. 


MinimumCover said...

Unless you went to these jobs you would think this sort of stuff was fictional.

Only when you have washed the blood from your boots and gone to knock on the door do you understand the complete lunacy of some and the tragedy they can impart on others.

Sad that we both seem to be writing about the same subjects so near to Christmas.

Dan said...

It boggles my mind the things that booze does to peoples brains. I'm not a driver, so have never had to deal with the whole Drinking & Driving thing, but I've had to take keys from friends that were going to drive when they shouldn't.

I suppose it's something it was just those involved, and that they didn't come face-to-face with a car coming from the other direction.

A very hard way to learn any lesson.

Matt M said...

Thank you. That is all I need to say. You guys see the results of booze and stupidity too often.

minimedic said...

Oy. Friend of mine had a family friend who was walking home from a party. He was (and killed) by a driver who "had a few drinks."

I've been the designated driver mor times than I care to remember, but it's events like these that remind me why I do it.

MSgt B said...

At what age does the sense of immortality wear off?

Does it ever in some people?

Tom said...

Having read the link to that post, I can utterly comprehend everything. I was informed of my Father's death by the Police about half an hour after starting my shift at work one day. Part of the reason I don't work in that hospital any longer.
As you know from my previous comments, I'm a student nurse. I've encountered several deaths after a month of placement. The one patient I had, well, less sympathy for in my time as an HCA was a drink driver who had landed himself and his other half in the same ward. Both air ambulanced to where I used to work.
There is never a nice way to break bad news. The only way to do it is to be straight to the point. I am lucky in the fact that I haven't had to make the phone calls that nurses have to make. This time will come though. Death is very much a part of life.

Nicki said...

Sorry for the call. We had a tough one yesterday...triple fatal fire. So sad. Life is precious.