I work full time, although if you asked my friends (or even my wife) they would scoff at the mention of the word “work”. Particularly if it’s uttered from my mouth.
I’m a paramedic but I don’t work on an ambulance. I used to though. I did that for ten years until the call for a change grew too strong and I was compelled to answer.
I now work for a private company that offers forensic and medical services to the police. Basically, everyone is entitled to see a medical professional in police custody. That’s where I come in. They call, I answer and I make my way down the custody suite, assess, medicate, refer if need be and then I leave. I work a four-on, four-off pattern with each shift lasting twelve hours and yes nights are included.
The thing that grips most people’s shit about my job is that I respond from home. I live about thirty miles away from the nearest custody. I don’t have to be there at the start of my shift either. I just need to be near a phone and within one hour’s commuting distance. This means that when I finally get called, even if it’s dead on 6am, I will spend the first hour of my shift driving to work. Not bad eh? Only eleven hours to go. It takes me anywhere between half and hour and one hour to assess a single patient so if they only have one for me to see then I might only be in the custody suite for that period of time after which I am free to leave. Where do I go? I can go wherever I want, providing of course that I remain in contact and within one hour’s driving distance.
Yesterday I spent an hour test riding a motorcycle and another three quarters of an hour browsing their clothing lines.
This morning I have been up since six am, have consumed about six mugs of tea, had breakfast and watched the Bourne Legacy. My phone is set to divert so the house phone will ring if I get a call so I’m free to wander around the house without constantly checking my mobile for missed calls or to see if I have signal.
But… it’s not all good.
Mine is a lonely existence. Being the only medic on call at any one time, I don’t see anyone. Sure I see the police, but they live in their world and I am acutely aware of the fact that I am not part of it. I am a resource to be called in, nothing more. I speak with plenty of people on the phone during medical consultations or note sharing with other agencies but I never really see anyone. If I’m home then all is well. I spend my time writing, watching movies or wasting time on the internet. Once I leave the house though it’s a different story. I know I’m driving into a kind of void. A world full of people but absent of human interaction. I’ll stop by my parents house from time to time, even tried my brothers once but they work regular hours so they are rarely in.
Anyway, that’s enough of that. I’ve just remembered the other perk of this on-call life. Well, my wife sees it as a perk (I don’t).
She: ‘If you’re not called out and you’re at home, why don’t you do the house work?’
Me: ‘Really? I’m at work though. Kind of.’
She: ‘You can still do it! It’ll be like getting paid to clean.’
So, I have a mountain of dishes to climb, a few rooms to sweep or vacuum and anything else my beloved has put on my ‘list of things to get done when I’m skiving’. Nice.
Best I get to it then.