For a pleasant change, there hadn’t been a lot of Chaos in ChaosTown the other morning, which is always good ….. and then the radio shrieked into life (don’t you hate those ear piercing tones that someone activates when there’s an emergency call that needs deploying to ? – what, your force doesn’t use them ? – well keep it that way, for your ears sake !!)
“Control to any unit that can make 11 Bridge Court please, we have an Immediate Response concern for safety, any unit respond ?”
In one of those very rare ‘just round the corner moments’ myself and Katie, who had just had no luck locking up one of our finer and more frequent station visitors, were literally two or three streets away. “Charlie Mike Four Two, show myself and Four One on route, what’s the details please ?”
“Four Two thanks” came the reply over the air “call from the Ambulance service, they are already on route, elderly female caller on line to them stating she can’t wake her partner Norman up and he’s not responding”
Myself and Katie glanced across at each other as separately but together we could see where this was leading. No matter how long you’ve been doing ‘the job’ these type of incidents never, ever get any easier and you rather hope and wish that the ambulance is going to get there before you.
It was surprising therefore, to turn the corner into Bridge Court and see the heart-warming and visionary sight of a large yellow van with shiny green and yellow stickers all over it, already parked outside the bungalow in question. “How” exclaimed Katie “Just how do they do it ?” she asked in a somewhat astounded voice. In fairness, the same thought did cross my mind.
As we got out of the police car and walked heavily towards the gate and pathway leading towards the front door of the house, one of the ambulance crew came out to greet us. As is ‘the norm’ curtains were twitching in the street; a cul-de-sac of bungalow’s, and several of the neighbours had ventured outside to empty the bin or sweep the path. This is a street primarily occupied by elderly, retired people who enjoy a bit of uninterrupted peace and quiet in their own little corner of our town.
Of course, the presence of ambulances and police cars in their street generally only signals one thing to the residents, all of whom are that one step closer to meeting their maker on a good day. I suppose it’s like that old adage as you get older – the number of Birthday and Christmas cards you get to give and receive each year gets less and less as more and more of your friends and family depart this spinning lump of rock.
I gave the pretty young blonde haired girly paramedic the standard eye to eye contact ‘cop look’ …. not not the one you’re thinking !!!, the one that silently says ‘dead or alive’ ?’, along with the secondary glace (no, not that one either !!) of ‘how come ambo crews get all the Gucci gear; what with their practical combat trousers, far better quality looking fleeces that have a Tog rating above 0.0000000001 … my gosh they’ve even got proper waterproof cases for their Airwave radios !’
And then, as she flutters her eyelashes back (are they real ???) I glance away to the side and stare longingly at their brightly coloured chariot, sparkling wildly on a cold winters morning. I mean look at one, the next time you see a modern ambulance – fit for purpose, designed specifically for the task, fitted with every conceivable role specific gizmo and gadget – heck they’ve even got dazzling bright blue LED lights on every corner, bend, nook and cranny than a Blackpool amusement arcade, so you’ve got no chance of not seeing one coming – us; it’s still an old recycled bit of spinning chrome covered plastic under a now very dull and weathered blue plastic lens cap.
Anyway, envy monster tucked back in his corner, the paramedic replied quietly “You best go in, they’re in the front room” and scuttled off quickly to carry her kit bag back into the back of the ambulance.
I looked back at Katie, she looked knowingly at me, and we both made our way into the house to deal with the worst.
“You alright mate, not seen you for a bit” was the opening comment from none other then Neil the Paramedic, the guy who, some years ago, had helped me make my decision (albeit unknowingly) to join the Boys (and girls of course) in Blue. “Everything’s sorted here, could do with a trip to the vet for a check up but right as rosy”.
I looked again at Katie, this time with a very puzzled expression on my face before turning back to speak with Neil “I’m sorry, call me thick but I’m not with the programme here. Who’s fine ? what vet ? Where’s the old dear, and more importantly, where’s this Norman chap ?”
“Aaaahh” Neil replied, “you obviously didn’t get the stand-down and update then”. “Well clearly not” I answered “I take it the old boy’s okay then – you taking him down for a check-up are you ?”.
Neil laughed “Best you come with me” he said as he led me into the front room of the house. “This is Gladys” he said, introducing me to the lady of the house who, far from being in a state of high distress at the thought of losing her lifelong partner, was sat in an armchair, calmly stroking her pet parrot. A very nice, colourful parrot I may add, but a parrot all the same.
Before I could say anything, Neil interjected “and this is Norman”, pointing quite clearly at the aforementioned bright blue and yellow feathered friend.
“I’m very sorry to trouble you all” Gladys said on seeing us, “I didn’t want to make a fuss but I just didn’t know who else to call”. “No that’s fine my dear” I said to her still not registering what had been going on here “We’re just glad you’re all okay”. I stepped forward to give the bird a quick stroke, but it was quicker than me and it’s beak spun round in my direction quicker than I could move, grabbing hold of the bottom of my fleece’s sleeve and giving it a fair old tug.
“Be careful” said Gladys, “Norman doesn’t really like male strangers”.
“She’s well right there” Neil quipped in “Gave me a right pecking, and I was trying to do him a favour”.
“Okay” I replied “just for my benefit, can we just confirm everyone is okay and no-one has passed away ?”
So Neil began to explain. Gladys had called 999 as she had come through into the living room, found Norman lying still on the bottom of his cage, couldn’t get hold of her daughter on the phone and had just panicked and dialled 999 as she didn’t know what else to do. Neil and his crewmate had just finished a job round the corner so were on scene within a minute or so, found out what the circumstances really were and had radio’d through to update their control room and stand us down. But that message hadn’t got through yet.
And then, as if by magic: “Control to Chaos, just had a call from Ambulance Control, it’s all in order, you can stand down, stand down”.
It really was one of those surreal moments when your mind knew what the job you were being sent to would entail, and auto-pilot hade already kicked into gear, yet the situations reality had taken us down another, utterly and completely different path and I was struggling to engage reverse gear.
Neil went on “My dad use to keep parrots and the like, and I’ve seen this happen to ours; almost like a coma or a stroke or something”. My day seemed to be getting stranger by the second. And it didn’t help that Norman was now sat happily on Katie’s knee getting stroked and petted, and was as happy as Larry !
“Gave him a puff of oxygen and a bit of a chest rub, just what my dad used to do, and he’s back up and running.”
“Are you serious” I said, still not sure if I was being would up or not.
“Ohh yeah, there’s obviously something wrong, and he’ll need to go down the local vet this morning, but they’re strong old things parrots you know, probably outlive me and you the way things are going !”.
“The way this morning is going” I replied to Neil “I’m going to be lucky to make the day out I think”.
All the while this randomly bizarre conversation was going on, Gladys was busy trying to get hold of her son on the phone, but sadly without success. “Tell you what Gladys” piped in Katie, “we’re here now, I’m sure we can pop you and Norman down to the vets surgery, we’ve got to go back into town anyway”. “Well I hope he’s got a cage to go in” I called over with a bit of a smile “don’t want him loose in the panda eating me alive”.
As we walked out of the house and to the police vehicle I turned to Gladys and asked jokingly, “What sort of a parrot is he anyway, he’s lucky he’s not a Norwegian Blue !”
Don’t know what a Norwegian Blue parrot is ???? tut, tut, tut – watch and learn :