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.

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