- I have tried to recreate events, locales and conversations from my memories of them. In order to maintain their anonymity and privacy I’ve changed the names of individuals and sometimes places, I may have changed some identifying characteristics, so the people described do not necessarily reflect the actual person or persons involved. Incidents and situations are as I recall.
Monday morning on the 9th January 1981 saw me driving up to the car park in Ambulance HQ in Welwyn Garden City. I can quite honestly say that I had never been quite so nervous.
I started this blog with the words “Thirty odd years ago I did something very stupid…I joined the ambulance service.” Even today when I look back I wonder why I did it. If I hadn’t I might have found a job that actually paid a decent wage, worked socially acceptable hours and one that would have kept me relatively sane – but it’s boring doing the easy stuff.
It was the start of a love/hate relationship that would play havoc with my emotions. It would be a roller-coaster ride, one minute I would be filled with euphoria, the next would see me come crashing down to earth. Throughout my service I would meet people who would help me, mould me, shape me and influence me. I would make friendships that would last a lifetime. It would cast me as a villain and a saviour, a mediator and a trouble maker. There would be tears of both sadness and laughter – but most of all laughter. Lots of laughter.
The one thing that was common in those early days was that the emergency side of the service was predominantly male, though a few women did break the mould. But by and large it was a male dominated occupation; women were mainly on the day vehicles, ferrying people to their out-patient appointments, but that all began to change in the mid 1980’s, a new type of recruit to the emergency side came through the door. A younger crowd, of both sexes, were now joining the service; and with it they brought a new dynamic. It showed that the service was changing; it was morphing into a modern service. The recruits were changing, the training was changing, the skills we had were changing and the expectation was changing – and I was there when the change first started.
Over the years I’ve had a few crewmates, all of whom deserve a medal for putting up with me. In my early days there were the Second World War veterans, or those who had done national service: these were people who had seen it, done it, survived it and came out the other side. There were others, a little younger, but had been in the service for years and had garnered a great depth of experience. These I leant on heavily, picking up snippets of information and listening intently as they recounted their stories. Then I transferred stations and after a few weeks found that I was to be crewed with a clever, pretty, young female trainee, the polar opposite of what, up to then, I was used to. I was now the experienced one, but I certainly didn’t feel like it.
But all that’s another story and all in the future; at the moment I’m parking up my car to start my three week induction course at Ambulance HQ.
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