Posted by: medicblog999 | July 17, 2009

A Close Shave!

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Travelling to a Cat B patient with abdominal pain, approximately 7 miles away from station. I am working on the rapid response car and I am progressing at speed down a long straight road, with clear views ahead. The weather is fine, no bright sun light, the road is dry and the traffic is light. I am travelling at approximately 60 mph and utilising the various techniques I learned on my driving course when I joined the service. The most beneficial thing I have ever learnt to assist me in not only emergency driving but also day to day driving, is to lift my line of vision.

Most people when driving, focus only a short distance in front of their car, usually on the bumper on the car in front of them. Roadcraft teaches us to look much further into the distance for clues for potential upcoming hazards so that we can adjust speed, direction etc well in advance. However, this only works when other road users do what is expected of them!

As I am heading down to the junction shown above (travelling from the left to the right of the picture) I look ahead and see a car parked at the junction waiting to come out. The driver pulls out, then sees me and stops with his front wheels outside of the junction. I still have plenty of time to cover my brakes in case he continues to pull out, but as he has stopped and we make eye contact, I keep going at my original speed and direction. As I get to within approximately 50 metres of the junction, he decides that now is a good time to pull out!!!

My blue L.E.D emergency lights are flashing, my sirens are blaring and I am in a bright yellow rapid response car. I have already made eye contact with him and he has already seen me as he has already pulled out and stopped once. He stops again, but this time he is blocking my side of the road. I quickly realise that there is no way I am going to be able to stop before I hit him, so I move onto the other carriageway whilst trying to control the car and either bring it to a halt or manoeuvre around the vehicle. This then becomes more troublesome as a large lorry that is travelling head on towards me starts breaking ahead of me.  I now make eye contact with him and I guess we both have the same wide eyed look of sheer horror on our faces. My rear wheels lift onto the grass edging to the road and I feel the back end kick out a little, but I manage to bring it back into control then cut back in to my side of the road, avoiding the lorry that has now pulled to a halt.

My sirens are still activated, but it all seems quiet and still now. I pause for a second and look into the rear view mirror to check that nothing has happened to anybody. I think about jumping out and strangling the driver who very nearly deprived my family of a father, husband, brother and son, but low and behold he is now driving off. I don’t even think to get his registration number. I check the lorry driver is ok, and we both have a mutual agreement on what we would like to do to the other driver.

I get back into my car and notice that my hands are shaking. I am only less than two minutes away from the address of the caller, so I proceed, but the rest of the journey is done without lights and sirens.

I get out of the car, gather my kit bags and walk up to the door. I look at my hands, still shaking a little, but they shouldn’t notice. Take a deep breath Mark……….knock on the door.

An elderly lady opens the door with a pleasant smile on her face.

M999: Hello, did you call for an ambulance?………………



  1. sounds all to familiar Mark. I must have taken a different driving test to most of the other people on the road because I dont remember the idiot portion of the test. Just glad your still with us.

  2. I remember a very similar thing happening to me, nice straight road, good field of vision. The car ahead was about to turn into a garage (across the road in front of me) but indicates to pull in and moves to the curb. I move into the oncoming lane with lots of time for everyone to see me, then only a few meters from the car they they pull across in front of me.

    To this day I have no idea how I missed him and how I didn’t clip the curb and roll my car.

    Its real life flashing before your eyes stuff!

    Glad it worked out OK for you too!!!

  3. As a CFR, I don’t travel at the speeds you do. Neither, though, do I have a nice yellow vehicle or blue lights. My car essentially looks like an ordinary private car – because it is; it’s my own.

    Today I was called to a bloke having a hypo. He lived on a narrow side street with cars parked both sides down most of its length. His house number was about 300 and I started from the end with No. 1.

    There was a car in front of me doing all of 12-14 mph. OK, it’s a 20mph zone and there are speed bumps, but even so, he was ridiculously slow.

    Where there were no cars parked, I moved ahead of him. That’s when the light show started.

    Finding the house, I parked up and the car behind pulled alongside me. I thought he was going to give me a right moaning at, and I hadn’t got time.

    However, as I got out and he saw the yellow jacket with battenburg on it, suddenly he had other ideas and drove off.

  4. Simply glad your OK Mark. But let’s also add to that – that other driver is a complete and utter tool.

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