Amandine said it was a last minute decision to put herself on call on new year’s day to help out a colleague who was on earlier during the day and happy to have half of the day off as he put himself on duty for the week.
“I thought the day might be a bit more busy than usual as everyone must have been celebrating on new year’s eve so I was ready for anything. I left my family at 12.30pm and went to pick up the kit and emergency phone at my colleague’s house. On the way, a man needed help with his car so I pushed the car for him and he parked it safely on the pavement. I was already helping someone and I wasn’t even on call yet!
“All kitted up I went home and started cleaning my house! It’s a good thing to do between calls, my partner takes care of the kids even if I’m in the house and I start cleaning until I get a call, I can also go to the shops but I always tell the security guard that I might have to run out of the shop because I’m on call.
“At around 3pm the phone rang and as I answer it I run to the door, putting my shoes on while I speak to the responder desk. I’m out of the door before the call is finished.
I’m given the name of a pub about three minutes away from my house and go in before finding a text update that the casualty is in the phone box just outside. I can see someone sitting on the floor but I can’t see inside the phone box so, remembering my training to look out for danger, I open the phone box very slowly, I don’t know if the casualty is conscious, drunk, on drugs, violent… The man is conscious, I ask him what’s happening today, he starts telling me that he’s got a very sore stomach.
“I ask him few questions and I learn that he’s a drug addict and an alcoholic and that he made the call himself. At this point, I’m still alone so I’m very careful. The man doesn’t seem violent so far. He seems to like me and appreciates my help. I put a pulse oximeter on his finger to find out his pulse and his oxygen levels. A paramedic arrives, very friendly. I assist him by writing some information down for him while he takes the casualty’s temperature and his blood sugar level.
“The casualty is under the effect of heroin so he can’t think straight, he’s refusing treatment even though his blood sugar is too low. The man keeps falling asleep so I have to call his name and try to wake him up often. Eventually, a police officer turns up after watching the CCTV camera. He wants to make sure the man hasn’t been causing any trouble.
“Eventually, the ambulance turns up and takes over. As we were outside the whole time, I’m freezing cold even tough I’m wearing my special jacket so I go back home and get warm. An hour later, I get another call from the responder desk, a man with chest pain needs help, I’m told he’s with a friend in one of the woods on the outskirts of Haverhill.
“I’m not sure where it is as I’ve never been to this wood before so after trying to locate the entrance I park up and call back the responder desk to get more information. After three minutes my colleague joins me and then we see the ambulance crew who have more details.
“They start walking there and I meet my colleague further down the road who tells me to stay on standby because the Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) on its way with a special vehicle so they can take the man out of the wood. I have to give them updates while he goes back in the wood with the ambulance crew.
“There’s mud everywhere so it’s impossible for them to carry the man themselves. The man is located about four minutes by walk from the road. I call another of my community first responder colleagues and ask him to assist me. He joins me within four minutes and we wait together for HART.
“Once they arrive, we call our other colleague who’s in the wood with the ambulance crew and he gives us some updates regarding the man with the chest pain. We stay there or three hours in total, it’s the longest call I’ve had to go to so far. Everyone works as a team which is so nice to see.
“They eventually find a way through the wood and get the man out, he’s got few broken bones but his chest pain is gone. The HART crew transfers the patient from their special vehicle to the ambulance which had now moved onto the rest area of the dual carriageway across the road. That’s when I realize my car battery is flat! Never mind, once the patient is off with the ambulance, everyone comes back to help and jump start my car. Team work!”