This is a jokey look at the trials, tribulations and rewards of dating or being in a relationship with a member of an Ambulance service. It is written in the style of an instruction manual. Boom – think I’ve just lost most of my male readers!
It applies equally to male or female and in the absence of any universally recognised gender-neutral pronouns I will use he, she, him and her at random (I’m not going to use the clumsy “he or she” every time), just assume that each applies equally in all cases.
I’m going to use the term ‘ambo’ in the interest of fluidity and shorthand to mean all ambulance staff whatever grade or job title.
Congratulations on choosing to date or relate with an ambo. You are guaranteed an interesting, possibly turbulent but hopefully never boring time. By following a few simple guidelines and considering a few simple insights which follow you should get years of enjoyment out of your ambo.
You may meet on-line, in a bar or just out and about. The fact that he’s an ambo will probably crop up early on in proceedings. It’s something that’s a fundamental part of her life, as the saying goes, it’s not just a job; it’s a way of life. It’s a career choice that most ambos identify strongly with and define themselves by. If they don’t mention it here are a few clues that may suggest your new friend may be an ambo:
- Permanently tired. This comes from the long shifts and rapid changes from day to night shift and vice versa.
- Slightly confused. Particularly noticeable after the ambo has worked a series of night shifts. Your ambo may ring you mid morning for example, after having woken in a panic after night shifts convinced he has overslept and missed your date scheduled for that later that evening, or even the next day – it can be that confusing.
- Strange meal choices: admitting to a whisky or beer for breakfast may not necessarily mean a serious addiction problem it may simply signal the end of a run of nights.
- Eating or drinking very quickly. This is a very bad habit picked up at work trying to eat or drink between emergencies.
Particularly for customers involved with a male ambo there can be a certain mystique or glamour about a ‘man in uniform’. Sadly not the ambulance uniform. It tends to be a shapeless green outfit (UK model). Even if you find your ambo quite appealing in green polyester, you may be disappointed that he changes out of it at work before meeting you, or if he has no changing facilities at his particular place of work, the minute he gets home, probably before allowing you a hug. The reason is that most ambos due to the nature of work develop a healthy level of germ-o-phobia. In his mind’s eye it will be a stinking rag crawling with thriving communities of bacteria and viruses. Not to mention the occasional fungus or crawling things. Ewwww.
In the relationship.
You’ve had a few dates and somehow that mystical change happens and you’re in a relationship with your ambo.
You may find the constant tiredness and occasional exhaustion-fuelled confusion initially quite cute. As the relationship progresses it may become a bit tiresome. It’s worth bearing in mind at this point that your ambo usually has no choice about the range of shifts she has to work. Ambulance work is 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Different areas will operate different systems but all involve taking your ambo away to work nights weekends and public holidays at some point. Given enough notice, your ambo will usually be able to get a specific day or night off but short notice changes are usually quite hard to achieve. Partners of ambos become used to attending family events alone and having to explain to family and friends that “..he’s working! Again!”
Some newer models of ambo may have very irregular shifts patterns, there is often an initial period of ‘reserve’ or ‘relief’ working where the ambo has to fill in for sick leave or holidays. Usually only a few weeks’ notice of shifts is possible. This can last months or years depending on the employer. Eventually this period ends and a position on a regular shift pattern becomes available. This still means shift working but at least the ambo (and you) knows what he will be working at on a particular day in the future allowing for better planning.
Either planned or unplanned, you may find you are pregnant. This is a huge subject and is beyond the scope of this manual, but here are a few guidelines.
Your ambo is trained in obstetrics and has probably delivered many babies while at work. While this may be reassuring, it’s probably for the best to rely on the professional services available in your area. On the big day when baby is about to make an appearance, keep him at your head end, not the baby end – leave that to the midwife. This will probably be what he wants also. Besides, you need him to hold your hand as you squeeze and break his fingers during the contractions and swear at him for putting you through this.
Your ambo will generally make a good parent. As the child grows, during the early years at least, being an ambo will be ‘cool’ and she will be proud of him. Shift working will often mean that the ambo parent will be able to do school runs and get to events during the school day. On open days at the school (fairs and fetes for example) you will probably be able to persuade your ambo to bring an ambulance for a couple of hours for the children to look at and sit in. Obviously it won’t be an active operational one but he will probably be able to get hold of a ‘spare’ one for a couple of hours. Most ambulance services love their staff to engage with the community. Don’t listen to any complaints that she doesn’t want to, ambos love doing school visits, and they love the attention!
You may sometimes experience episodes of your ambo seeming withdrawn and quiet. Records show this This may be more than just tiredness. It may be due to a particularly unpleasant job he has done. He may find it hard to talk to you about it. This is not because she doesn’t trust or respect you it’s more likely that he wants to spare you the horrible details. Evidence shows that male ambos are more prone to bottling things up and not talking about feelings than female ones. Work is ongoing to try and overcome this design defect but it may take time.
Hopefully the occasional episode of low mood will pass as the ambo processes and comes to terms with the event and will return to his usual bright and responsive normal self.
Sometimes however the problem will not easily resolve and specialist assessment and repair may be required. Watch out for the following signs that your ambo needs help:
- A low mood which does not pass quickly.
- A low mood that seems more serious than usual everyday low moods.
- Your ambo becoming withdrawn and not talking to you.
- Your ambo no longer wanting to be physically intimate with you.
- Your ambo become irritable and unusually bad tempered.
- Your ambo using unhealthy coping mechanisms: drinking alcohol more often or heavily than usual, using drugs.
- Your ambo losing interest in the things she used to enjoy doing.
- Your ambo no longer making the effort to keep in contact with friends and family.
The best thing to do is to keep encouraging her to talk but meanwhile encourage her to engage with professional services to help. He may find he can open up to total strangers who are professionally detached. For UK models the charity ‘mind blue light’ is an excellent start point, or their own doctor.
So there you have it. A brief guide to the workings of an ambo and suggestions which hopefully help you understand and get the best out of your ambo.