Saturday, 13 February 2010
"Save me officer" (but don't expect a tip)
It's been a been a tad dull this week, but I believe I really must write something as a measure to prevent my brain from seizing up. I will jot down a diaryesque ramble through the last few days: I finished off my first aid refresher training. Amongst all the other assessments I and two other colleagues were subjected to, my practical test was to deal with a man who had accidentally severed his thumb with a chisel. Actually, its rare that these things are done deliberately, so I don't know why I said `accidentally`, but you never know. I arrived at the scene and quickly assessed the prostrate casualty (no, not the prostate, thats on the advanced course). It was the usual things, personal risk, safety measures etc, at the same time as I was simultaneously eyeing up the shocked and bleeding casualty. The `severed thumb` was a latex rubber creation from the SFX department and was remarkably thumb-like, the sort of thing you'd dread to find in a mouthful of pork pie, only more pink on account of it being freshly amputated and uncooked. I was impressed, especially with the `blood`. Our instructor deserves an Equity card. I strapped up the stump, treated the casualty for shock and even called for some ice so I could pack the severed digit up, ready for the micro-surgeon [who I radioed ahead for and asked to be put on standby, along with anaesthetist, theatre nurses, a head CT, blood matching and a porter (I was a big fan of ER so I'm good at this shit). Then onto the defibrillator training - It came as such a shock. The trainer wanted to prove a point about how easy it was, so asked if any of us had seen it before. I was the only one who hadn't (well not one of these fancy new gizmo's anyway) I kept schtum. `Right`, said the trainer, "Hoggers hasn't seen this ever before, so to prove how ridiculously simple it is, I'm going to give him the bag and when he comes through the door to the casualty scenario he'll have to work it out for himself". No pressure then. As a former police instructor I knew that this guy had broken the golden rule about not belittling a student. OK, I hadn't been belittled, yet, but with his opening remarks about the simplicity of this life-saving kit, I was in for a lifetime's worth if I balls'd this up. In I came to find poor old resusci-Anne, unconscious and not breathing, yet again. Just after I'd given her mouth a quick clean with a steri-wipe, but before I'd started work on her, one of my helpful colleagues told me that these mannequins were produced by a Dutch firm who also make dildos. I preceded my routine with the words, `You bastard` but found I very nearly couldn't blow for laughing. I quickly settled down and after proving my worth as a life saver the instructor called upon me to use the defib'. I unzipped the bag and lifted it out. For the uninitiated, it was about the size of a typical bedside radio/alarm clock. Placing it down next to the casualty, I first spotted the handle with the word "PULL" clearly marked. So I pulled. Then the darn thing talked to me, told me to remove the clothing from the casualty to expose the torso. There were more verbal instructions about peeling off the back of the palm-sized electrode pads contained within the machine and to `attach them to the casualty as shown on the diagram`. It was a doddle. Once they were attached, I simply moved back and let the technology analyse for any cardiac activity. The voice in the box then told me to stand back, press the flashing red `shock` button and, after another analysis, to re-commence chest compressions (or not if the heart of a real casualty was re-started). It was that simple, only a total mullet could get it wrong. I'm told the latest models are even smaller. I don't suppose they'll be allowed in police custody centres in case some wag alleges it was used on him to induce a confession. This morning I was up and away early with my job. During a break I read a local newspaper and the following stories jumped out at me: The cost of recovering a stolen car where a poor lady suffered the unbelievable trauma of having her car stolen, whilst her child was still in the baby seat. Not wishing to diminish the awfulness of the event, in this day of costing jobs down to the nearest penny one has to take a pragmatic view. I have to say that if my car were stolen and then found by the police and recovered by them (actually it's outsourced to a contractor who recovers the vehicle) I wouldn't expect the police or the local authority to pick up the tab, anymore than I would expect the AA to fix it or tow it to a garage for free if I'd broken down. As for the jibe about having a £40 bill to remove the fingerprint dust, do these journo's or outraged victims of car theft expect the police to valet the car for the owner, before returning it? My verdict on this piece of junior journo-lism? - puerile. A lead article in the same paper raised the thorny issue of police `bonus payments` or `special awards for exceptional work`, something that really did make my blood boil when it was introduced some years ago. The lead editorial made the expected points about how the police should be expected to do diligent and dedicated work `as a matter of course`. I quite agree. Quite how this sort of thing was allowed to pass into practice is beyond me. In my service, the only thing I can recall getting a special payment allowance for, was for fingerprinting corpses that had suffered particularly severe deterioration due to decomposition or that had been in the river, although the latter is slightly less unpleasant because the skin usually comes off quite easily so perhaps that payment was a bit excessive - sorry, the cynic is rising again. I never had the chance to claim this payment. Not that there was a massive line up of officers clamouring for the extra £1.50, it was just that the whole thing sounded so repellant to me I would have gladly paid £1.50 not to have to do it. The one payment I did try long and hard to get, was a `standby allowance` for my guys who made themselves ready, when off duty, to respond to any firearms incident that needed their expert attention. For the benefit of any non British readers, it is not a requirement of a British police officer to be trained in the use of firearms. All officers must be volunteers which, conversely, means that if they feel they have had enough then they can give up the responsibility. As a fireams trained officer I attended more incidents than I can remember, but for the first eight years neither I or my colleagues were issued with body armour, but it didn't stop us from doing the job. What caused me and many others to question why we did this particular task was the way some of us were treated when we did our duty willingly, correctly and to the best of our ability. Bonus payments? Give us credit. That was the week, that was.