My primary school teacher in Class 4 thought it brilliant to get us to read the dictionary for several minutes each day, then to take those words and use them in a composition. That stroke of brilliance has prevailed across the decades and enlightened me to pen for you a composition. I am sure you can hear the sing-song tones of our primary school children as I write – “The title of my story is, ‘A journey in an ambulance’.”
The day began as any other day for work began. I had ‘snoozed’ the alarm one time too many and so I had to fly out of bed with a speed that could rival a cheetah’s, and get myself ready for work in world record time. I took the Concorde and in a matter of minutes I was at my desk in the lab getting ready for a day in the field.
On that particular day we were doing a blood drive at Paragon in Christ Church and I eagerly anticipated a day away from the usual lab and ward work. From the blood bank we collected our necessary supplies and after checking and double-checking we were on our way from St Michael to Christ Church. It was a relaxing drive as the traffic had become less of a tangled mess and I had the chance to gaze at the houses, businesses and what little greenery could be seen along the way.
We had a wonderful time with the soldiers that day, laughing and jesting, listening to them relay stories of training and catching a glimpse into the lives of those brave men and women. I was utterly convinced that life as a soldier was not for me. We had a wonderful lunch and thereafter we did another round of blood collecting to supplement the meagre stores back at the Blood Bank.
At last we reached our final soldier for the day, and it is at this point the music theme changes from a lilting classical sonnet to a riveting upbeat melody. As irony would have it, this tall slimly-built soldier was afraid of needles. Perhaps it was the fear of being laughed at or maybe he was deep down a brave soul who was truly concerned about the cause. Whatever it was that propelled him to donate blood was not enough to sustain him to complete the task.
With each drop of blood we collected from his vein, I saw ten beads of sweat appear on his forehead. We aborted the mission because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he was going to hit the ground. I did not feel the victory David felt when Goliath fell; conversely I felt sheer panic as we guided him safely to the floor, then poured some fluids into his frightened soul. My heart rate became countable once more as he quickly revived and gave us a wry smile. Once we were certain that he was stabilized and expected to live to fight another battle, we prepared for the trip to Accident & Emergency (A&E) for follow-up care.
We wheeled him into the ambulance and as it was no longer an emergency I looked forward to another calming drive in the opposite direction. Words cannot explain how wrong I was. The driver slammed the door and despite my protests that a siren was not needed, a few seconds after he gunned the engine I heard the loud wail. The runway, the grass on the side of the road and the sky all became a kaleidoscope of colours as we blazed from Paragon towards the ABC Highway. Whilst I was glad our patient was tightly secured, I slid from pillar to post as we rounded each bend, or avoided a pothole. It was then I understood the statement, ‘my life flashed before my eyes’ because it was at that point I was convinced we would need to be taken to the A&E for further care.
I am sure I was bargaining with God for my life as we took another roundabout on two wheels; the smell of something burning was real as I planted my feet and took another skid along the passenger bench towards the rear door. There was no strength in me to beg him to slow down as I mourned my unborn children and watched my life goals evaporate before my eyes.
I chose the wrong time to take a glance through the front glass when, to my horror, a driver clearly had not heard that high-pitched moan from the ambulance heralding the approach of the high-speed vehicle. We were going to crash!! There was no doubt in my mind!! Somehow, our sci-fi carriage was able to morph and squeeze through a space meant for a bicycle to continue safely down the road.
It is a phenomenon to watch the traffic part but for me on that day it felt like a drawbridge being lowered in days of old. At last we reached that final roundabout and once I recognized I was still alive I felt a glimmer of hope. We screeched to a halt outside the A&E and our passenger was escorted inside to a waiting team. I remained transfixed to my seat as my brain had been squeezed consequent to the lightening speeds we employed on our journey. Truth be told as I stepped from the clouds on to solid ground, my knees buckled and I felt strong arms support me inside. My next thought was, ‘I made it!’ as I slid into the comfort of a vacant chair.
I encourage one and all to donate to the Blood Bank once you are in good health. The life you save might be yours. Despite my teeth-jarring trip can you believe that I want to take a ride in an ambulance again? I must be a glutton for punishment.