Sunday, 7 August 2011


Its raining heavily here.

The sound of the rain bouncing off the pavement outside my window.

The smell of the rain as it hits the floor.


Its dark, I swing my torch around, I see nothing but rain and grass in the patch illuminated. I hear J curse, he's just spotted something on the slope.

A wall. Damn, we didn't see that when we started running down the hill on search.

Right well, crack on and all that.

J jumps down, no problem

My turn, off I jump, its deeper than it looks, nettles and weeds covering a ditch at the base of the wall. And my ankle takes the brunt of the landing. Oh, thats my ankle bone touching the floor. Great. But there's potentially a person face down in the lake at the bottom of this slope. Just don't take the boots off. They might not go back on.

Pain pushed out of the picture for now.

More sweeps of our torches, hoping to find the girl before we get to the lake edge. No such joy. Radio messages from Gold team detailing areas to search. No one knows we're here, no one has thought to check the lake. Radio in, give our location to the search leaders.

Damn this lake is a hell of a lot further away than it looked at the house... we've gone at least a kilometre, maybe more. Down a steep slippery slope in the rain. If we need help, there's no way an ambulance can get down here easily, and it'll be a dangerous climb if we have to stretcher her out. Especially with my ankle feeling crunchy.

Ok, bad thinking. Keep moving. Concentrate on resus protocols. Its likely she's overdosed and aspirated water. Get her airway secure, get her breathing and get the medics down asap.

Its 3AM, we've been working since 8am and the rain is making every log look like a body.

Lake edge, three sweeps and nothing, tracks from night-fishermen, long gone home to escape the rain, but no girl, face down in the lake.

We decide she's not here and radio the area clear. Time to scale that hill and search on.

Our boots and clothes soaked through, our girl still missing. The festival manager suddenly remembers me and J are the night managers and sends us to the front gate as police liaisons. Off we go in the site vehicle, trying to get some feeling back into our limbs.

Radio transmisson "Gold leader, gold leader, we've got her. VIP loc blue"

J stays with the site vehicle by the gate for the 100+ police officers due to arrive soon, off I run to the location given, meet the EMTs en-route and check her out. Medically she's sound, no injuries, nothing obvious, just very drunk.

We eventually piece together a story; she's bipolar and hadn't been taking her meds. She was drunk and had an argument with her boyfriend, who was outside the tent swearing at her to come out because "she was embarassing him". I radioed for security to restrain the man away from her tent.

It turned out she'd "gone for a walk" and somehow managed to miss the 9 sweeps of the campsite, cars of stewards going down every lane for 5 miles, and come back to her tent to sleep between the 8th and 9th sweep.


Its funny what memories, triggered by smells and sounds, you can relive in a moment.

I had to cut my boot off by the way, I left them on for 3 days, my foot and ankle had swollen so much I couldn't pull them off when I got home. 

I finished the festival off, went home and slept for a day before seeking medical attention.
My ankle was grade 2 sprained. 
I got shouted at by the Nurse Practitioner at A&E. Again.

She knows me by my first name - I'm clumsy!

Sunday, 31 July 2011


Yesterday afternoon I got one of those calls, I took the call as "15yom, not responding, poss suicidal, doesn't speak good english".

Great. Whats worse than potentially walking in on a 18-21 year old trying to kill themselves, but a minor. Who only speaks his home tongue. Who's a long way from home.

Grab keys and first-aid bag and run with a translator/supervisor to his flat. (Top floor, always a top floor)

Get to the flat, knock and knock on his door, the translator is hammering away, no response. "Right" I think, steeling myself against the worst and unlock the door.

First sweep of the room, no one hanging off the door closer (again), there's a suspiciously body-shaped bulge under the sheets, not moving, not obviously breathing. The translator starts talking to him in his native language, no initial response.

Great, I start opening my bag and gloving up, notice 3 packets of pills popped on the desk and an open bottle of water on his desk. Still no response.


Close in on him, he's breathing, regularly and deep now. Right, so that's A and B taken care of, now to check C. Nice strong pulse.

Still no response, but I have a hunch that he might be faking. I give him a quick brush of the eyelashes, oh look! A flinch!

He knows the game is up now, he's been rumbled and starts speaking to me through the translator. He had an argument with his girlfriend who had come over on the trip with him. She's stormed out of the flat, taken his keys and he wanted to "teach her a lesson when she came back".

He emptied 3 boxes of paracetamol tablets into the bin and covered the tablets with a bag, left the popped blisterpacks on the desk and then got into bed to pretend to be dead.

All 48 tablets accounted for, emergency stood down, boy shouted at by his translator/supervisor.

My heart rate dropped an order of magnitude after he confessed to his little scheme.

Saturday, 30 July 2011


Fire alarm goes off, corridor and room filled with smoke from your flatmates cremating sausages in the kitchen.

Do you:

a) Evacuate the building?
b) Stay in your room, try to listen to music on your headphones over the alarm siren and go on facebook?

If you choose B, don't look hurt and surprised when I chew you out over it


Thursday, 28 July 2011

Those phonecalls we dread...

(Whilst we have a lull on at the moment, my next few posts are going to be old jobs from the past few years. As always, details changed to protect the innocent, guilty and the stupid.)

The phone call that we all dread, experienced and newbies together, that is guaranteed to set our hearts racing and cause our adrenal glands to dump adrenaline into the blood, is one from a parent panicking that their son or daughter hasn't got in touch with them for a few days and that "they always call me on Sunday morning, I've not heard anything from them since last Sunday".

As with any of the nastier jobs, I tend to attract more than my fair share of these calls. Every one I go up to the student's room with the trepidation that I'm going to find a body. Especially when they don't answer the door and I have to unlock it.

Thankfully the worst I've had is someone bedridden with swine-flu. No bodies yet.

Normally they're asleep, or drunk, or hungover, or not in.

The kicker is that we're not allowed to tell these worrying parents that their offspring are alive and well, if a bit dopey. Thanks to data protection laws, we can't even confirm to our own parents that we're alive and well if we're on duty. Go figure.

I just know that I'm going to find a body one of these days. But I'd rather I found them than other staff. I've seen death before, I've seen a body that has been there a while. I can deal with that.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

"Whats it like working on Halls of Residence?"

Well I'm glad you asked, because we have a lull in the action here at the moment, summer often brings this. Currently we're playing nursemaids to a bunch of spoiled darlings who are interning at &_WELL_KNOWN_MULTINATIONAL_COMPANY for the summer, learning engineering.

They're from proper universities see, so they apparently expect the earth. Or at least us to supply them with every kitchen utensil ever dreamt, one asked what day of the week do we collect laundry and when is it returned! My my, these people are adults in the eyes of the law, and they can't grasp the concept of looking after themselves!

On another site we have nearly 200 under 16 international students doing something or other with their time. As far as I can tell its lock themselves out (they go out without keys as someone in their flat will have a set, but their rooms are cleaned every other day, so odds are their room will be locked when they return!) and try to score drugs/alcohol/cigs off us at any opportunity. I'm glad I don't live on their site!

On my site we have the usual summer stayers, students from &_MY_UNI who are as the title explains, staying for summer! We also house conferences here.

Anyway: Working in halls of residence lets one see a great deal one wouldn't have seen in the real world; the amount of couples, (male/female, male/male, female/female, or singles) having sex is unreal, they just yell "Come in" without a care in the world. Now, I'm well versed in the world, I don't blush, I treat the situation in a calm professional manner, but some of my colleagues are... precious...

We are also privy to the fallout between couples, often either side of a couple has tried to use the system against the other couple. But we're wise to that, most of the time we can spot it when it happens to us and redirect the anger elsewhere, often to welfare services.

A few can't and the threats get more extreme; they go from "If you don't do anything about her, I'm going to kill myself now" to "I'm going to kill him if you don't go up there and tell him to turn his music off" (whilst flexing her hands).

Be prepared for vomit. Lots of vomit. And urine. And faeces. I've been thrown up on, had someone try to urinate on my boots (thanks) and had to clean up faeces from a stairwell (no I don't know, nor does the student who did it).

We get to deal with suicide attempts/ideations, fights, drug dealers, drug users, locals who for some reason think that private land is a right of way because "16 years ago when it was a wasteland waiting to be developed" they could "walk right over it". We also get to deal with fires, illness, paramedics shouting at us because the student who called 999 for a cold didn't inform us and the barriers are down.

(that is a bane of our lives and I fully sympathise for the medics - I realised this earlier in the year when I was potentially seriously ill and the EOC wouldn't let me hang up so I could inform my colleague who was on duty that I needed the barrier opening - I had a potential pulmonary embolism or a heart attack, so moving wasn't exactly advised!)

I'm making this sound like a horror show aren't I? 95% of the job is boring and routine, doing legionella flushing, delivering notices, checking kitchens and being a point of contact. In my eyes its that remaining 5% where it goes to hell and you are the only person on duty, with no immediate backup and need to keep your shit together, thats the bit that matters. Up to 500 students could be depending on you to hold their shit together. Some of my colleagues have been tested in this crucible and sadly failed the task, they made things worse for all concerned by panicing and freezing. This sadly is human, we never know how we're going to react until it happens. I've faced a lot of crap situations, so I know fairly well how I'll cope in a given nightmare scenario (with a massive grin on my face!).

I remember in training last September, another colleague and myself drew a lot of flak for painting horror stories of the job for the newbies in a session that was us talking about "the realities of the job". They missed the point, we reinforced that not everyone will get a nightmare to deal with, but it will happen to someone, its bound to. We're just trouble magnets her and I, we get all the shit situations and we're damned good at our jobs when it comes down to it. I've had praise from all 3 emergency services for my actions, as has my colleague.

Last year I got called up at 3am for a first aid assist as the security guard was not first aid trained and the staff member on call wasn't willing to perform duties he was allegedly deemed competent to perform.

I personally harbour ambitions of becoming a paramedic (subject of another blog post!) so the opportunity to practice pre-hospital care is one I relish (sorry to all you injured people out there), and want the best for any patient under our care, so whilst I am annoyed that he did not step up to the plate, the care he would have given could have been potentially substandard.

Anyway, this is turning into a rant!

This is a job I love, especially when it goes wrong as I see that as the core role of our job. Despite the crap pay, the crap politics that go on, its a truly rewarding job. I love it.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Hello there!

I guess a welcome is in order, if anyone actually reads this!

My name is REDACTED. However for your purposes, my name is NoiseGirl. I'm a student at the University of Derby, final year of Sound Light and Live Event Technology BSc(Hons)

Yes, they DO let people do that for a degree!

I'm not going for a degree in that field however, I'm hopefully joining the 2012 entry to Sheffield Hallam University for their Paramedic Practice HE(Dip) course with the aim of, unsurprisingly, of becoming a paramedic.

I also work on the Halls of Residence, as a "Residential Assistant". Our role is to fill the gap between hall managers finishing at 1800 to security coming on duty at 2100 and being on call overnight to deal with any issues security can't handle (like welfare calls)

This blog is primarily going to be a dumping ground for halls related stuff and my search to become a paramedic. As a result of this, confidentiality rules supreme, details will be changed. Names, locations, finer points of incidents will not be as they are in the real world. Hopefully they'll still make for good reading for you and be a place where I can store and collect my thoughts on the curveballs life and the job throws at me. The views expressed herein are my own and not those of my employers.

The nickname YellowBox was given to me by a friend years ago, I broke my left distal radus and schaphoid after tripping up on a BRIGHT YELLOW BOX in the middle of a clean and tidy room, caught my thumb in the door handle and my bodyweight fell onto it... 5 years later the nickname has still stuck, now with my friends reminding me that sharps boxes are bright yellow...

Doomed. Doomed I tell you!