Sunday, January 06, 2008

Abiding memories

What with it being a new year and all I wondered what the lasting memories of 2007 would be for me. There was a couple of nasty car crashes, one involving a decapitation, another with a man being cut in half by a tree- whilst still in his car.

However, sad as it is to say it there'll be more car crashes this year, probably some as gory. I think the following story though will stick out in the memory, as it was a bit more unusual and out of the ordinary.

I originally posted about this back in May. I've changed some bits around, changed grammar and whatnot. But it's still the same story.

Its about the time I met a man called Robert.

Robert has a personality disorder that is determined untreatable and so he is not allowed to stay in hospital despite our frequent cause to S136 him. (S136 Mental Health Act- sectioning someone)

Robert decided the other day to cut his wrists. Now we quite often get calls like this, and get there to find small cuts, not very deep- more scratches, really. Robert was a tad different.

With a stanley knife he had gouged right through his wrist. 3 times. He was sat in his kitchen when we got there with his despairing friend.

I don't think I'll forget the sight of his kitchen. It was a reasonable size, with a white tiled floor. It was about 2am, and a single flourescent tube illuminated the room, making a gentle buzz.

Robert's blood covered every single tile. It was on the sideboards where he had sat. It was dripping down the cupboards. A blood saturated towel was in the middle of the floor. Blood spots were on the wall from when he'd flung his arm about. You wouldn't have thought blood smells, but I tell you it does.

Robert was sat on the sideboard, talking to us quite normally, oblivious to the fact he was sat in a scene straight out of SAW. Robert did not want to go to hospital, despite the fact he was constantly oozing blood and he had already lost at least a pint.

This left us in a bit of a situation. We can't force him to go to hospital. He's committed no offence. We only have powers to section people if they're in a public place. The old trick of arresting them to prevent a breach of the peace, followed by de-arresting them once outside and sectioning them instead isn't an option these days. Its now in fact a breach of force policy. We also have the issue that he doesn't even want to leave the kitchen. Robert is no small man. We're in a kitchen with all manner of weapons close to hand with a blood covered ice rink for a floor. We do not want a fight, but thats what we'll get if we try and put hands on him.

But there's no way we can leave him there. He's still conscious, blood steadily dripping through his hands, telling us it was an accident and he'll get it sorted in the morning.We all know he'll be dead by the morning. The bandage he did let the ambulance service put on he has decided he doesn't want and has torn off.

So, we talk. We patiently build rapport and trust. His friend tries too, but nothing. He just sits on the sideboard, oblivious to the blood everywhere, telling us he's fine. Half an hour of patient persuasion leads nowhere.

All of a sudden, Robert is impatient with us still being there and smashes a cup down onto the floor. The group of armoured PC's who are hiding outside brace, wondering if I'm going to order them all in.

A lone Pc comes in with a shield, and tells Robert not to be so stupid in a manner you would tell off a child, which with all the circumstances seemed mighty surreal. But to my amazement Robert responds, becoming apologetic and saying sorry.

Taking this hint, we continue with the more forceful approach. Myself and the Pc tell him that he's going to hospital right now. Hallelujah, Robert agrees. I quickly signal for everyone outside to quickly hide, knowing if he sees all the armour and shields waiting it'd freak him out. We walk out and go down the several flights of stairs, everyone quietly following. Blood is still flowing down his hands. We are leaving a trail of red, and as we wind down the stairwells, there are spots and spots of blood all over the floors below us before we even get there.

Finally, three floors down Robert goes down in a heap, succumbing to the blood loss. I quickly grab his arm and get the ambulance service to put one, then two and finally three dressings on it. Robert regains consciousness.

Straight away he's fighting us, swinging arms and legs, swearing at us to leave him alone. I'm in a fire exit stairwell of a grey low rise tower block, its 3am, I've got a seriously mentally ill chap spraying blood everywhere who's using his remaining strength to fight us. I do briefly wonder why I do this job.

I don't wonder for long. I've had enough. I nod at a Pc whilst taking a tight hold of Robert's arm and shoulder. The Pc grabs the other side and we march him down the stairs, holding him as he collapses again. He really is a hefty git and we can't carry him, we just wait for him to come round again, stop him fighting us, and march him on again.

Finally, we reach the bottom. He collapses once more as the ambulance driver runs off to get his rig. Once again, once he revives he flails out at us. We can't handcuff him because of his mangled wrist. We're going to have to keep hold of him until he gets sedated. I throw my car keys at someone and we somehow get into the ambulance and are off to the hospital on blues. I stand, holding his wrist up high to stop him hitting me with it and to try and stop him losing yet more blood. The Pc is pinning his other arm. The paramedic is trying do attach monitors, but not getting very far as we're all struggling with him and our balance as the ambulance dodges in and out of traffic.

We get to the hospital and see the open mouthed reaction of the staff when we struggle in with him. We take him down to a cubicle from where he somehow summons more strength from somewhere and 4 of us end up pinning him to the ground. A nurse runs in and puts safety specs on all of us. The doctor doesn't ask a hundred questions of us or the ambulance crew for once, but gets a sedative and administers it. Finally, Robert calms down. He crawls to a mattress on the floor and allows the nurses start cleaning him up. The floor and corridor around us looks like some something out of an abbatoir.

I take the chance to grab some water, grab some air. I take a look at myself.

I am covered in his blood. Boot, trousers, stab vest, shirt. Thoughts of HIV and Hepatitus cross my mind and I go and clean myself up, hoping that little nick on my arm has healed properly. The other skipper is going through all the details with the ambulance and hospital staff.

I feel justified in volunteering someone not covered in his blood to write this all up. I head back to our nick, feeling quite nauseated now by the constant smell of blood from my own clothes.

They were so contaminated I had to return to the hospital later and bin most of my uniform into their hazardous waste bins.