Monday, 4 April 2011

The Vow

With her head in her hands, Lea sat on the torn green seat at the back of the ambulance. Perched on the edge in total silence, trapped in a world of fear, as the shuddering of her shoulders told a tale all of their own. I remembered meeting her once before when she told me of her dream to move from her job as a health care assistant to that of a paramedic. 

I was packing my kit back into the car as the ambulance took off in a hurry with a badly injured cyclist. The driver of a car parked at the side of the road didn't look before opening their door, and the cyclist had no way of avoiding the collision. Riding downhill at high speed meant that his injuries were severe, and a doctor was called to scene to help stabilise him for travel. The doctor traveled with the crew, leaving me to tidy up the carnage.

Lea was the first one on the scene, having seen the accident from her bedroom window, and when I arrived I was glad of her help. Initially I left her holding the patient's head, and then, when pairs of more experienced hands arrived, she kept running backwards and forwards getting whatever piece of equipment we needed. 

When the action was over, she came over to help me pack up. 

"I'd love to be out on the road, on the front line, but they told me I needed a driver's license." 

"Very difficult to drive an ambulance without one!" 

"Well I hoped they'd just let me do all the other stuff, you know, the real fun bits!"

"Oh, you mean like talking to people who can't cope with a bit of a sniffle, you mean?" 

A look of mock horror crossed Lea's face. 

"You mean it's not all trauma like this?" 

"'Fraid not. It's one percent trauma and ninety-nine percent routine. Sorry to shatter your illusions!" 

"You haven't really. I know it's not always like this. I did my homework, you know! Now all I've got to do is learn to drive."

"For what it's worth, I love this job, even with the sniffly people. You come to work, ignore the nonsense, ignore the politics, and try to make a difference in just one person's life. It's that one call in a hundred that makes it all worthwhile. And it doesn't have to be a trauma job, either. It could be just talking to a ninety-year-old war veteran." 

I cleared what was left on the road of the mess that we'd created, and got ready to leave the scene. Lea approached the car window again. 

"Thanks for letting me help. Now I'm even more determined to get in!"

"Well, you were more than helpful. Good luck. I really hope you make it!" 

Our second meeting was a year, maybe even two years later. Now she sat, a broken woman in desperate need of help, and not knowing where to look. There were bruises down both her arms, a palm print on her cheek and a deep cut to her forehead. Tiny shards of broken glass reflected the light as they sat on her face and clothes. A police woman sat next to her, held her hand and told her that she could talk whenever she was ready. Two other officers had removed her partner from the house. He put up no fight, showing his cowardice for all it was. 

"Lea," my voice as gentle as possible, "we'll need to take you to hospital. You'll probably need some stitches, but you'll be fine. Is that OK with you?"

She nodded. 

"They've got him, so he can't do you any harm, and this police lady will be with you the whole time, alright?"

Again, with the tiniest movement, she nodded her approval, and we set off for hospital in an impenetrable silence. As we arrived, she finally spoke.

"You know what this was all about?" Now she was practically shouting. "He didn't want me to go to out to work. He didn't want me to ever leave the house. All he'd do is scream 'What do you want to go to work for?' or 'What do you think you can do that's any good?'"

She dried her eyes, summoning up the courage to speak out.

"I told him I wanted to do what you guys do. I told him that I was learning to drive so that I could work on an ambulance. Do you know what he did? He slapped me round the face and threw the glass at me! Told me that now I've got a reason to be on an ambulance." She stopped and took a deep breath.

"I'll show him!" She said. "I'll prove to him that I don't need him, or his approval. And while he sits in jail, I swear I'll be the best damned paramedic there is!"

From what I've heard, she's kept her vow. 


Anonymous said...

The courage of a victim throwing off her shackles. I look forward to working with her. Even though I will never know who she is.

Oneunder said...

The courage of a victim throwing off her shackles. I look forward to working with her. Even though I will never know who she is.

Unlimited-Unscheduled Hours said...

As shall I. Please do, if you can, find out if she learned to 'drive' and is on the truck. We need to see these folks succeed.

Anonymous said...

If she can do it, so can I!! Have had 5 rejections from Uni's this year, not giving up tho.

InsomniacMedic said...

She has indeed thrown off her shackles, learnt to drive, and is now a fully-fledged member of EMS. I haven't had the chance to meet her since, but look forward to the day we do meet!

Anonymous said...

omg good for her
good can come from the bad stuff
as my daughters tattoo says
*if you dream it you can do it*
or something like that
bless that lady and if you ever meet her please send her a hug from me.

minimedic said...

It's a domestic abuse success story: not only did she realize that she deserved better than this douchebag, but she decided to pursue her dreams.

You go, girl. Yo go.

Michael Morse said...

Sometimes, when I'm writing a post, I just know I'm on to something good from the emotion it evokes while I'm writing it. I feel the same thing when I read most of yours. Thank you for sharing.

northernLAD said...

Top Lass!

Wanna_Be_Medic said...

Wow - that is all that I can think! She should be an inspiration to us all, you can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it!

Can't wait to become a medic!

And insomniacmedic, your writing style is AMAZING I wish I could write the way you do....

kent tech said...

Its a shame that others that suffer from domestic abuse cannot have this girl's courage and strength.
It gets frustrating out on the road sometimes when we deal with these situations.
But then again we are not there to judge and we are supposed to stay impartial, its bloody difficult to do when all you want to do is knock-out the git that caused the harm