Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Way Home


It's the simple, old-fashioned ring tone on my mobile. Everyone seems to have their favourite piece of music, some amusing noise, a baby laughing, anything, just not a normal, straightforward "ring-ring" type noise. I guess it makes me a traditional non-conformist. Now there's an oxymoron. I ignore it, as I always do when dealing with a patient. MrsInsomniac will have to wait. I'm sure it's her. She has this amazing knack of only ever calling when I'm with a patient, and never when I'm just sitting around drinking too much coffee.


We climb over the fence and into the field. She sits in the front seat of her battered car, pushed off the road by the force of the impact. The bus had no chance of stopping in time as she came round the blind bend on the wrong side of the road. The weather didn't help either. The road was wet, with the first rain in a few days making it that little bit more oily. She probably lost control as she came round the corner, sending her directly towards the bus.


The windscreen's spider's-web fracture indicating what we'd already guessed. Her head hit the glass leaving her unconscious and with a massive head injury. Her breathing slow and laboured, all other injuries are for now ignored. The scene is now a sea of blue lights, with police and fire brigade joining the frenzied attempts at getting her out of the car. Nothing else mattered for now. The road was closed despite it being a major route for homeward bound commuters, and those stuck in the traffic would be there for some time yet. Most would probably be calling home to let them know of the delay.


The roof is cut off the car, she's removed, along with some of her belongings. Only those critical to identifying who the unresponsive patient was. The rest would have to be salvaged later from the remains of the car. As we finally got her out of her car and into the ambulance, it seemed that the ringing was getting louder. The familiar ring tone rang again, and only sounded clearer as we were away from the generators, running engines, and general noise that surrounds the scene of a serious accident. All in all, the phone rang four or five times whilst we were at the scene. Unusual, I thought, as normally MrsInsomniac would realise that I'm on a call and would wait patiently for me to call back when I was free. If she's tried to call this many times, it can't be good news.

Finally given half a chance, I looked at my phone, only to find that it was switched off. And obviously I hadn't had a single call. Which means that someone else had the same phone, and chosen the same ring tone.

It rang once more, from the direction of the patient's handbag.

The screen was alight, the word HOME flashing with every ring. A police officer answered it, and explained to the patient's frantic husband what had happened. That his wife was in a car crash, where it had happened, that she was with the ambulance, that she'd be OK and was being taken to the local hospital.

"He's distraught", said the officer. "He was trying to call to tell her to go a different way, he'd heard on the news that there'd been an accident on her normal way home".

I wondered how long it would be before she really would be on her way back home again.

It was the end of the shift, and as I sat in the car writing the illegible scrawl that was my paperwork, I switched my phone back on. As it came back to life, a message appeared.

"Can't get through. You must be busy. Let me know when you're on the way home".


Michael Morse said...

That was a great story, hopefully the patient is okay. The Mrs. uses text messages now, my ringtone for that is a siren and airhorn, kind of goofy but it does get my attention-unless there happens to be a lot of sirens and airhorns surrounding me.

RD said...

Very powerful.

Steve said...

Hope the patient recovered, had a similar job in the winter, although the phone was answered by a nurse in resus, after they'd called it. That's got to be an awful way to find out.