My top ten favourite moments at work

I think it’s time for another top ten list.   This is my list of my favourite work related moments.  Not in any particular order.


  1. When we’re trying to resuscitate someone who is in cardiac arrest (not breathing and no pulse), it’s a great feeling when we get a pulse back (Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC)). Even better if the person starts to breath for themselves too although this normally happens a bit later when the person is in the resuscitation room and we’ve handed over to the hospital staff.  It’s nice to track the patient’s progress through the hospital to the point where they are discharged home and back to their families.
  2. When a job flows smoothly. There is a certain flow from the point when we are given a job to the point where we hand the patient over in the Emergency Department (ED).  Sometimes the job flows more smoothly than other times.  Things can go wrong, equipment can let us down or the patient may not agree to the recommended care path way.  Sometimes it’s not easy or possible to cannulate the patient if required (insert a small tube (cannula) in the patient’s vein by inserting a needle which is encased in a plastic tube on the outside and then removing the needle leaving the tube in place).  A range of our drugs are given through the cannula (intravenous (IV) so if I can’t cannulate then I can’t give the patient any of the IV drugs or fluids.  It’s great when everything works and flows smoothly.
  3. When pain relief starts to work. Many of our jobs are people who are in pain.  This can range from sudden pain due to an injury or illness or ongoing pain caused by a long term condition which has gradually got worse to the point the patient can’t cope and calls us for help.  We have a range of techniques and drugs (analgesics) we use to relieve pain.  For an injury, eg broken limb, using a splint to immobilise the injury helps to ease the pain.  Reassurance also helps because fear plays a part in making the perception of pain worse, particularly in children.  No one likes to see another human in pain so it’s a great feeling when the patient starts to relax as the pain eases.
  4. When an unwell, scared child relaxes and starts to smile and laugh. When children are unwell or injured they are usually scared too which makes the feelings much worse. As long as the illness or injury is not time critical, we take a while to let the child get used to us.  We involve mum, dad or any other care-giver and encourage the child to show us their favourite toy or book.  It’s a good feeling as the child starts to relax and even laugh.
  5. When we can hear back up crews approaching. When we’re on a big job and have requested back up, it’s a huge relief to hear them approaching in the distance.
  6. When someone says thank you. I know it’s our job to help and it’s what we get paid to do, but we’re human too and it’s fantastic when someone appreciates the help we’ve given them and thanks us.
  7. When we get a free coffee. Very cheeky one this but some places give us free coffees while we’re on duty. Fantastic!
  8. Seeing a student progress. I’m a mentor so I quite often have a student for a year.  In the UK paramedics study at university and have frequent placements with us on the road during their course.  I love to see the student progress over the year from being nervous and confused to become a confident, competent paramedic.
  9. Hearing the relief crew arriving at the end of the shift. If we happen to be on station towards the end of the shift (very rare but it can happen) it’s an unbelievable relief when you hear the relief staff arriving.
  10. End of the shift. Home time!!

Top 10 types of work colleague.

I’ve written this about working on an emergency ambulance where two people are in close proximity, sometimes in high pressure situations, for the length of the shift.  These are not in any particular order, just the order I think of them.  I call some of them Mr…, to avoid literary clumsiness please assume this could equally be Mrs… or Ms… – No sexism on this site.  Any of my mates who think they recognize themselves here, that’s purely intentional!  I love you all.


  1. The regular mate. Someone you work with most of the time and possibly have for a long time.  Familiar and safe, you probably spend more time with this person than your spouse.
  2. Mr Well-Connected. This mate spends a large part of the shift telling you about meetings and conferences he goes to and drops the name of the chief executive, Head of service and various other high-up people in the service he’s been chatting with.  Be nice to this one! He’ll probably be the boss soon.
  3. Mr ‘I-did-this-job-once’. Starts most conversations with the phrase ‘I did this job once.. .’   Good for practicing the art of not listening while appearing interested – a vital skill for anyone in a long term relationship.  To achieve mastery of this skill you still have to be able to make relevant comments or answer questions at any point even though not listening.
  4. Mr Transferred-from-another-area. Starts most conversations with the phrase ‘In *________* we did it like this…’  Normally implies that we are a backward service who gets most things wrong.  Often wonder why this mate transferred here.
  5. Mr Feeder. A mate who has a large bag of sweets and is happy to share them.  One of my favourites.  Only occasionally though, I have to think of my waistline and blood sugar levels at my age.
  6. Mr Sleepy. I can identify with this mate.  Lots of coffee required to get through the shift.
  7. Mr Newly-qualified. Still coming to terms with a head full of theoretical knowledge and applying it in practice.  Even with the clinical placements that student paramedics have during their education finally being accountable and responsible in the real world is daunting.
  8. Mr Smoke-and-a-brew-after-every-job. Just to clarify by brew I mean tea/coffee and not beer!  Although a non-smoker I do sympathise with the nicotine craving, and I do enjoy a leisurely approach to life, I think it is vital for your stress levels.  These days though all our times, including the time we take to clear after each job is carefully monitored and presented to us at regular intervals.  This mate can make my times take a dip.
  9. Mr Lacking-confidence-after-something-has gone-wrong. When my regular mate is off I am sometimes given a mate who is returning from a low place.  I seem to be able to help restore confidence.  I think this is because I was not a confident young man.  I remember well my struggles when I first started.  I had got to the stage of wondering why the hell I had come into this job and was seriously considering leaving.  I was rota’d on for a shift with a trainer I’d never worked with before.  I can still remember that shift even 20 years later and the help and advice he gave me.  That one shift turned things round for me.  Now I try and help staff as much as I was helped and pass on the advice I was given.
  10. Mr Social Media. The annoying mate who spends all shift posting and chatting on various social media sites.  Probably annoying because they are so much more popular than me!!

Top 10 things people say to me at work

This is a top ten list of the things people say to us at work. No particular order, just as I thought of them.  In brackets are my normal replies (often unspoken or I’d soon be an ex-paramedic).   A short, light blog as funny top ten lists seem to be the in thing on social media right now.

  1. I couldn’t do your job. (On a good day: awww thanks.  On a bad day: I don’t think I can do my job either any longer)!
  2. How long have you been an ambulance driver? (Driver?? We do a bit more than just drive…).
  3. You must see some sights. (Yeeeeees you could say that!).
  4. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever seen? (My alarm clock flashing at silly o’clock in the morning).
  5. When do you finish your shift? (As soon as possible, normally 12½-13 hours after we started it).
  6. Is it quiet for you today/tonight? (Have to resist the urge to strangle anyone who says this, we don’t say the ‘Q’ word, even if it is. We’re a superstitious lot and believe saying the ‘Q’ word will jinx any nice shift immediately).
  7. Bet you get a good sleep at work on nightshifts. (I wish we did).
  8. Bet you get fed up of the drunken idiots (often said by someone who is drunk and doesn’t realise that they are being an idiot).
  9. It’s like a mini hospital in here. (Yes, a hospital in the midst of an earth quake with some of my colleague’s driving).
  10. Are we there yet? (OK, so this is mainly my kids in my car, not patients at work).