Tom Reynolds has been blogging his working day in the London ambulance services for oooh, ages now. We once wrote, "Publishers: sign up this guy to write a book, really - you'd have a surprise hit on your hands." Turns out we were right, Tom has been snapped up and has hardly been out of the top ten ever since.
We caught up with him to ask him a load of stuff and nonsense.
Does do you find it hard to turn off your work brain when you get home?
Nope, the uniform comes off and I leave all the troubles of the day with it. If there is anything sitting in my head I'll blog about it. At the end of the day you have to be a bit hard and impersonal to survive in this job.
Has you ever done the deed in the back of your ambulance?
Ewww... The thing is - we know the sorts of drunks, homeless people and drug addicts we get in the back of the motors. It's manky. (Of course, now we have cleaners cleaning ambulances at night I might not be too adverse to it - my girlfriend might though)
Do you smell like blood and piss when you get home from work?
I am a master at avoiding getting blood on my uniform, a few drops here and there is the most I normally get (it's why I wear short- sleeved shirts, arms are easier to wash). Occasionally I do smell a bit like a granny, but it's more likely that I come home smelling of boozy vomit - none of it my own.
How much of a problem do speed bumps cause?
They are a complete bloody nightmare, a couple of our fast cars have had the bottoms ripped out of them by hitting them too fast, in ambulances all the kit in the back goes flying and with the new motors which have suspensions like a rowboat hitting a bump at the wrong angle throws you around the cab. I'm fully expecting loads of ambo crews goig sick in 5-10 years time after our kidneys have shaken loose. I could moan about them for hours (notes a topic for a new blog post).
Can you drive your ambulance on 2 wheels?
Very easy with our new motors - all the equipment is on one side, so turning left and your wheels are stuck to the road - turn right at speed though and everything tips over. One or two motors have flipped onto their side because someone was driving it like they stole it...
Tell us about the stupidest member of the public you've had to deal with and how tempted were you to use the defibrillator paddles on them?
Too many to choose from. I guess the bloke who rang 999 and demanded an ambulance for difficulty in breathing, so got the full fast car response. Turned out he had a verruca for two weeks.
Do you ever use the siren to get home for tea quicker?
I'm not saying it never happens, but I've never done it out of fear. I'd be guaranteed to have a crash and could lose my job. The way I see it is that I'm getting paid overtime for sitting in traffic. Easiest job in the world.
What is the best excuse that you've had for a bizarre sexual experiment gone wrong?
For the bloke with a carrot (and condom) up his arse. "I thought it'd be fun" (While gurning on half dozen E's)
How often do you get drunk people hurling stuff at you for helping them out?
Drunks are the number one people to try and assault you. Even managed to get a broken rib off one of them. Sadly it's all too common two crews across London every day get seriously assaulted, that doesn't include the slaps, verbal, kicks, bites and spittings at that make up a fun evening for us. At least once a week someone will try to hit me. They normally end up on their arse.
Have you ever helped heal a murderer?
If so, did you feel conflicted?
Not a murderer, but someone worse - and yes, you do wish you could hurt them. At the end of the day though I don't want to lose my job, and I trust that other prisoners will make their lives a misery.
Does he hate the HEMS team lording it over them with their stylish jumpsuits and swanky helicopter?
'Stylish'? It makes them look like teletubbies. HEMS can be really good, or they can be a complete pain in the bum - if you want to rush someone off to the nearest operating theatre but they want to 'stay and play' by opening the person up on a pub table, then they can be a pain. If you have someone who needs knocking out then they are an absolute dream to have availible. It's also good because if the job goes wrong you can blame the doctor...
Gallows humour. Give me an example, paramedic stylee.
Dead children are easier to carry downstairs than dead adults.
What do you think of the way Paramedics are portrayed on shows like Casualty?
GAAAHHH!!! Erm... Badly (interesting enough, I've been invited to one of their 'medical days' where they learn about new stuff in the ambulance service and the like - I think it might just be to lynch me...)The problem is that they have to make the story (a) Interesting and (b) simple enough for idiots to understand. I can't watch casualty because I just spend the time shouting at the TV.
Does a hit book mean you're going to give up your job and have sod all to write about for a sequel, except "I've been on the telly!"
The blog has material for another two books at least. Also being an author doesn't pay too well, not enough for me to give up work, and besides how could I give up racing around the streets on the wrong side of the road?
Who would you do / comfort from Holby City?
I'd 'do' Comfort in the back of the head with a 9mm, the Josh, then that evil manager, then the doctor who is shagging the manager, then the sister. Mmmm...bloodbath.
Are the bicycle paramedics in London there because they can't
No, they are there because they want to show their legs off to the tourists.
What's the best to drive fast in? A fire engine or an ambulance?
You get hurt less in a fire engine - but ambulances handle (a bit) better. Best of all is the fast car - goes like a bullet and everyone thinks you are a police car.
Do you get the extra #5 a month on your salary for being a first aider?
No. I don't know if *anyone* has the 'first aid at work' qualification. I may have to look into it.
Ever used the fact you're a paramedic to pick up chicks?
Rephrase that as 'Ever used the fact you're a paramedic to *try to* pick up chicks?' and I might admit to it. (no, it doesn't work)
Tell us a joke.
No. (I have the sort of brain that can't remember jokes)
Do ambulancemen, like doctors, have to take the hypocratic oath?
Thankfully no, we can do as much harm as legally allowed...
What's your favourite drug?
Work drug? Glucagon because it 'cures' diabetics with low blood sugars in a dramatic fashion making us look like heroes. That or Narcan because it puts opiate addicts into instant withdrawal (although you can get a punch in the mouth for your trouble). Favourite illegal drug would be cannabis because they don't ring for an ambulance, they just sit there an mong out.
What's your favourite music? Can you play music in the
On the new motors we can. Favourites on the way to a call would be 'Bat out of Hell' or Queen's 'Don't stop me now'. You can sometimes have 'inappropriate' music if there is a patient on the back, the classic being 'Take my breath away' while treating an asthmatic.
Emergency Med. Techs. were on hand to save Richard Hammond's life when he crashed his jet car. Would you have bothered if it had been Clarkson?
With all those cameras watching? I suppose I would have had to.
Can you use photoshop to draw funny pictures?
I've never tried - perhaps I should start.
What did you want to be as a kid?
System analyst (which shows my age), or a spaceman. I never even considered anything to do with medicine, I got bullied into nursing by my mum of all people.
What do you want to be in future?
Immortal. Hugely famous. On TV. Actually I really do enjoy my work, so basically to keep my job and to keep loving it.
How can I get my girlfriend to start paying for our meals out?
Withhold sex. Women are just as highly sexed as men, they just hide it better.
Would you ever consider not treating someone if they were begging you not to, ie: someone in a very bad way or someone attempting euthenasia?
If a person is not insane and can understand the consequences of refusing treatment then, by law, I have to follow their wishes. This is one of the tricky bits of our job when some little old dear who is in serious trouble doesn't want to 'trouble the hospital'. So I have ended up leaving people at home who should have been in hospital - and it drives me mad.
Boxers or briefs?
What's the most humourous way you've seen someone die?
There isn't really a 'funny' way to die, it all involves pain and fear and suffering. Sorry to be a downer.
If you could design your ambulance an ideal satellite navigation system, who would provide the voice?
Well, we can switch our current one to German. She *orders* you down streets. It'd be nice to have Kate Silverton in the cab with you though.
If you were a dictator over this country, what law would you introduce first?
'Be nice to one another...or else'. And I'd scrap loads of crap laws
What is the best music you have ever heard coming from a crashed car's stereo?
There was a car that crashed into one of our fast cars which was running on blue lights and sirens. When the traffic police went to move it there was deafening Drum 'n' Bass pounding on the stereo. One copper looked to the driver and said, 'naughty, naughty boy...'.
If you met a beautiful person whilst tending to an accident - for example, the daugher of someone who has fallen under a strimmer - would you make a pass at them?
Nope, mainly because the uniform isn't very flattering. I might get their address and stalk them though. Seriously I've yet to meet a woman connected to a patient that has made my heart go 'thrumm'.
Do you think the world is getting a better or a worse place?
It's the same, we just hear about the bad stuff more and less about the good stuff.
How many times a day do you get people doing the Eric Morecambe joke: "Well he's not going to sell much ice-cream going at that speed?"
I'd not heard that joke before - I shall try to remember it.
Go on then, plug your book.
Please buy my book, I work hard and get paid shite - buy it for your mum, she'll love it. I get *at least* 40p for each copy sold.