Posted by: medicblog999 | February 9, 2010

From the other side of the stretcher…

fistI had a pleasant surprise the other day, or rather the other morning.

03:00 to be exact….

I was on station trying to get a quick rest in between jobs. My iPhone chirps into life and tells me that I have a new email. I it and find this sitting in my in box.

I share it with the permission of the author Kerry, as I feel it is a great reminder to all of us for the reasons why we do what we do, no matter what time of day, what weather, or what is going on in our own lives…..

Hello M999,

I came across you blog which I’d found through another! 😉

I am not a member of any emergency service, although have always loved the idea.

I got to reading emt & related blogs late 2007 when I required the services of said.  I hoped that by reading a blog I would find a reference to my particular ordeal, in the hope that some form of public interest would be taken as to me it was a life changing time, yet I found none, but I do carry on reading!

I could go into long winded things here & become, as you say deep about things, but I’ll just give a short version.

I got on a tube train like any other rodent in the london rat race in October 07. I was running late, my head was busy with work, I hadn’t had my first cup of coffee & had only had a few puffs on a cigarette.  I got on that train, as I said, like normal, yet 10 minutes later, I was lying in the foetal position with my wire rimmed glasses embedded in my head. Blood pouring everywhere. After quite some time, a lovely man in green showed up, knelt down & introduced himself, ‘hi, my name is David & I’m a paramedic’ (think it was David) the first words I said to him where, am I going to be blind, I’m a photographer. He looked at me & said, there’s a lot of blood but you should be fine. Those words, I don’t believe he believed, but they put me at rest. I don’t recall much after that, other than people staring at me, I kept wanting to take my boots off, my feet felt swollen. But all of that is irrelevant. When he leaned down & spoke to me, it made everything else go away.

As it turned out, I wasn’t ok. I am now walking around with a false eye, a titanium orbital floor, damaged neck & fractured cochlea & have just had my 4th operation, it doesn’t matter, his words & his way made it ok at the time.

So, this is a thank you to the EMT who arrived at Vauxhall Station on 11 October 2007.

And also a thank you to you M999, for being one of those people that help often at times when we need it most & for being that person there when we need a person most.

Hope that made some sense.

Be safe

Im sure you can all imagine what a lift that was to get a message like that from someone I have never met, in the middle of a busy night shift. I replied and let her know how she made me smile at 3am, and how much her message meant to me, and Im sure all of you reading it. I also asked if she would mind writing a little more to tell us more about her story.

I got that email yesterday, so here it is. Complete and from a very talented writer….

“I guess this wasn’t what you expected as you put your socks on that morning” my eye specialist told me as I sat in the chair, a few silent tears tears falling from my good eye.

I used to think that I would be able to remember every second of THAT MORNING.  I still believe if I could remember every second maybe it would help me make sense of what happened, maybe it would help me move that little bit closer to acceptance and closure, moving on.

THAT MORNING was 11 October 2007.  An unremarkable Thursday morning, other than I had overslept, hadn’t had my morning fix of coffee & didn’t have time to have a full cigarette as I rushed down 3 floors and into the the tube station I lived above.  Unremarkable that I had to climb on a tube going in the wrong direction, to swap over when there was a quite station so I could actually get on a tube going in the right direction.  Unremarkable in that I changed over from the blue line to the black line after having to wait for 2 trains before I could.  I remember spotting the seat, standing in the same place I did everyday, thinking, bonus!  I wish I could remember if he was already sitting there, or if he was part of the jostle to get those last seats.

The new book I was starting to read, the song I was listening to on the iPod, those details escape me, the fact that I had a black coat with my favourite linen trousers and brown boots, and how my sister would kill me for such a fashion faux pas, that I remember.

We pulled out of the station, I was settling down for the unremarkable journey into town, you know, that little bit of space you have on a carriage that you share with so many others, I turn to the guy to my right and ask him if he can move his arm, currently, it is sitting close to my ribs.  He says no.  So, I take my earphones out, ask him again, he says no again.  I think I asked him again, one of those details I can’t remember.  I turn to him & introduce the concept of personal space.  It’ not a hard concept to follow.  “Excuse me, this arm rest here denotes that this is your seat, this is my seat, currently you are infringing on my space here, just move your ********* arm”

He looks at me, earphones still in, “First come, first served, I was on the train before you” he says in his Souf London accent.  Memory is sketchy from here on in, but I remember being incredulous, a boy, with his arm in my ribcage, lounging around in a packed tube, a perfectly valid request and he tells me first come first served.  Movement, and I feel him elbowing me, my initial defence reaction, make him stop.   I lash out with the back of my right hand, catching him on the tip of his nose.  He looks at me, in the eyes, and smacks me.  I am winded, I go down with my hands over my face, as I slowly sit up to recover, he is standing in front of me, and lands a punch squarely in my face.  The force of it embeds my wire rimmed glasses into my left eye, my head snaps back and I experience a white out, the world briefly stops, it becomes silent, like when snow falls.  I fold over, bits of the world filtering through the fog and pain, the passenger emergency alarm being pulled, the driver saying something, somebody shouting, someone screaming, “Why did you have to hit her like that?”

Me thinking “Oh shit, I am going to be late for work, Oh shit, I am going to have a black eye; Oh shit, I have planned a work thing for tonight; Oh shit, it hurts;”  The slow motion effect is freaking me out, the world starts rushing in in snippets, him sitting down next to me again, someone to my left putting something over my eye, realising for the first time that this is more than just a black eye, I move my hand from my face and see blood, a lot of it.  My favourite trousers, my favourite boots, my favourite shirt.  The stupid black coat.  We are coming into the station  I see people as we rush in, the train slows, it stops.  Someone helps me to my feet, people are staring, as I get up, I turn to him & say, “You’ll get what you deserve for this”

Lying in the foetal position on a dirty station floor, blood streaming down my face, non yellow bibs around me, everything in a haze, “The ambulance is on it’s way” I am told.  I wait, what seems like an eternity.  2 pairs of black boots start coming into focus, the cuffs of green sitting above.  One pair becomes knees, as the paramedic leans down and says “Hi, my name is David, I am a paramedic, how are you feeling?”

“Am I going to be blind, I’m a photographer?”, is what I say.

“Well, there is a lot of blood, but I am sure you’ll be ok” is what he said to me.  Relief.  I could carry on worrying about being late for work, about wanting to take my boots off because my feat were hot.  For that short time, the man in green, looking at my severed eyelid, the damage to my eye, knew that it probably wouldn’t be ok, he knew what to say to allay my fears at that point in time.

My memory is sketchy, I think I would know what he looked like if I saw him again, I think his name is David, I could be horribly mistaken, but one thing I won’t forget, is the care he took with me, the patience he showed, the fear he allayed.  Often, a thankless job.

I would like to thank him, it is unlikely that I ever will be able to.  Instead, when I get drunk, I thank police officers & EMT’s for doing such a good job, for keeping us safe, I become one of those drunk people they laugh at or shake their heads at in despair.  As thanks, I project good karma to those, like Mark, who do a thankless job.

To the green overalls out there, the next time a drunken one eyed woman thanks you, do not despair, it really is heartfelt.


I have gained so much from this blog, but the best thing is the people I am connecting with whom I would never have had the opportunity to meet without it.

Kerry – thank you so much for taking the time to contact me and allowing me to publish it. Who knows, one of my readers from London Ambulance Service may actually be the one, or know the one who actually looked after you.

If you are the medic or know who it was, or could just put the word around LAS, please do and let me know if you find who it was. I we can find out who it was, what a wonderful letter of gratitude it would be and what a unique way of delivering it!!



  1. Great post – mostly Kerry. (I don't think Mark will begruge that!)Kerry, it's a shocking comment on some of today's people that they see nothing wrong in causing damage to other people. I'm really sad you met such a one, but it's obviously not diminished you in yourself. You come across as keeping your confidence and SOH.You obviously made Mark's night shift and will have cheered up a lot of ambulance professionals. As a volunteer, it really makes my day when I get thanks from the people I treat. Many are too ill to do so, but the rellies often make up for it on their behalf.You are a shining example of the fact that most people are considerably more decent than the thug who attacked you.

  2. Just to say, the best place to publish this would be the BWTS FORUM:…It is full of LAS folks and it should be easy to find the paramedic attending that day ;-)Lisa 😉

  3. Great post! Every once in a while someone says thank you and it makes all the BS worth it.

  4. Just to say, the best place to publish this would be the BWTS FORUM:…It is full of LAS folks and it should be easy to find the paramedic attending that day ;-)Lisa 😉

  5. Great post! Every once in a while someone says thank you and it makes all the BS worth it.

  6. […] @UKMedic999: New blog post: From the other side of the stretcher… […]

  7. […] From the other side of the stretcher … The kind of e-mail that makes it all worth it. (Medic 999) […]

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