Friday, 2 April 2010


It's amazing how sometimes your brain will only register what it wants to see, and go on believing what it sees, even if it turns out to be completely wrong.
The house has two cars in the driveway. One an old classic, clearly cherished for many years, the owner one of the old breed of drivers, the tax disc a couple of years out of date now. The rust and dust are building up, but it still takes its pride of place out the front of the house. The other car is a shiny, new-looking car with a private number plate, the pride and joy of someone much younger who probably uses it daily and washes it once a week.

He's eighty-something years old, lovingly cared for by his granddaughter, at a guess in her twenties. She clearly adores him, and the love and admiration flows both ways. He's confused and in pain, having tripped and fallen down a couple of stairs. Whilst we assess his injuries, she's there, wiping his face, stroking his head, doing her best to comfort him. It looks as though he has fractured a hip, and the agony is made just that little bit more bearable by her presence, her reassurance, her love.

We're just the mechanism by which he'll get to the hospital, but she is clearly the power that will pull him through the experience. We give him some analgesia, scoop him up gently, and move him carefully to the ambulance.
She gathers some clothing together, finds his medication, checks the lights, the heating and the locks. Just before she's ready, I ask him a simple question.
"Is your granddaughter joining us in the ambulance, or is she going to drive up in her own car?"
As soon as the words leave my mouth, and I see the look on his face, the penny drops. The penny makes a loud, reverberating noise in my now empty head as I realise my error. Anyone can make that mistake, right?
I shouldn't have assumed. I don't any more.
I should have checked. I always do now.
I should have asked. I always will in future.
"That's not my granddaughter", he practically spits.
"That's my wife!"
There are those who learn from their own mistakes, and there are those who, without having to go through the pain of embarrassment, learn from mistakes made by others.
I hereby present you the opportunity to save yourself the blushes...


Ross said...

I'll bear that one in mind for the future.

Tom said...

I believe the old adage when you assume you make an ASS-U-(and)-ME.

I suspect that I'm the king of gaffs of this nature. My crewmate and I were tasked with an out of area job, when we rolled on a maternity call. On entering the property I noted the immaculate condition of the house, and the lack of any toys or childrens/infants kit anywhere.

A composed young woman sat down in the front room while a lady fussed over the expectant mum in a motherly fashion. Ah thought your brain donor contributor, clearly this is a relative come to the aid of the first time mum. Even her bags were neatly packed, and all appeared to have been carefully thought out.

Not so. The 'motherly' lady was a neighbour who had let her stay with her, and the 'first time mum' was a serial 'multip' hell bent on delivering her latest offspring in record time.

I'm sure you get my drift...

Michael Morse said...

Methinks a quiet ride to the hospital followed...

Fee said...

I once stopped in the street to help a woman (maybe in her early thirties) pick up her dropped shopping. A younger man joined in, and I assumed he was her boyfriend. Luckily I hadn't said anything to that effect before he said, "Right Mum, let's get home before the chicken defrosts".

Tom said...


I wish. The journey was punctuated with 'scared shitless panic', a dropped maternity pack, and a sweaty 'bod-in-the-back' happy to do the handover.

Too late though..

Neldo said...

I made a very silly schoolboy error as a Red Cross first aider at T in the Park.

A man came over shouting "there's a pregnant lasy who's fallen off a bin and hurt her back!"

We went over, I asked the 'friend' about what had happened while my partner spoke to the patient. He told us that she was 6 months pregnant, that she was dancing on the big dumpster-like wheelie bin nearby and fell off. So I radioed in about this pregnant lady with a possible spinal, the Scottish Ambulance Service came, I told them about this pregnant lady who had fallen off a bin, we got her longboarded to the medical centre where it later transpired......she wasn't pregnant, she was just fat. A lesson learned!