Arriving at the scene, there was one car upside down at the side of the road, and another had crashed, head first, into a lamp post. The drivers of both vehicles were still inside, and multiple other cars were parked up nearby, a few sporting minor dents and scratches, presumably from sudden stopping. Drivers and passengers, having left their cars to stand by and watch the unfolding situation. Alex began yelling instructions as soon as we climbed off the appliance, everyone jumped to work instantly, setting up the scene.
“Rebel and Rosie, check on the occupants of the Honda.”
“Sub!” We called back, running to the upside down, blue Civic.
He continued to call out instructions to the others, whilst we carefully moved around the car to check it’s safety before going to check on the condition of the driver.
“Help me… please… help me!” A man’s voice called out weakly, from the front seat.
“It’s okay, it’s the fire brigade, we’ll be right with you Sir. Just stay calm for us.” I called out, skirting round the back of the car, and moving towards the front, Rosie heading round the other side.
“Please, I can’t move!” He said in a panic as I reached him.
A man that looked to be in his thirties was pinned, hanging upside down in the driver’s seat. There was a deep laceration to the side of his temple, and another to his cheek, the blood from both, was staining the right hand side of his face and hair, a deep scarlet.
“Hey there mate, I’m Rebel And that right there is my lovely colleague Rosie.” I threw her a quick wink, earning a smirk in response. “We’re gonna get you out of here soon, okay?” I said calmly, scanning the area around him for any immediate risks.
“Rebel? What kind of name is that?” He half laughed, hissing in discomfort, and coughing a little as the pain hit his body again.
“A very fitting one apparently.” Rosie replied, doing her own assessment on the other side of the car.
“It’s the nickname my Watch gave me.” I answered with a laugh. “Try to stay still until we can get you out.” I added, reaching in and placing a reassuring hand on his shoulder.
“What’s your name Sir?” Rosie asked.
“Pete… Pete Reynolds.”
“Okay Pete, where are you hurt?” She continued.
I looked around him, searching for any other injuries that were clear, or potentially serious. I couldn’t see anything aside from some minor scratches and blossoming bruises on his arms. His seatbelt was holding him pressed in place, keeping him trapped inside.
“My leg and this shoulder.” Pete croaked, trying to reach the area of his shoulder that was in pain.
“No, leave it. Just stay nice and still.” I interjected, craning to look by his legs to see what was causing the pain, or if he was trapped there by anything.
There was no way of knowing if there were any other injuries, meaning that keeping him still was crucial until the paramedics arrived.
“Why aren’t you getting me out?” He asked abruptly, his tone laced with frustration, as he squeezed his eyes shut and grimaced.
“We can’t move you until the car has been stabilised. If we attempt anything before that, it could make the situation much worse.” Rosie explained calmly.
“How long will that take?”
The panic and irritation in his voice was climbing and he began to attempt to wriggle. I held him in place, the car shaking a little with the abrupt movement.
“It won’t take long Pete. We just need you to stay very still. Our colleagues are already working on it.” Rosie answered.
I could see that his panic was stilll rising, his eyes darting around. It was always hard to keep a casualty from unravelling in situations like this, but we had no choice, initial checks had to be done.
“Pete? I’m right here, we both are. Keep calm, okay.” I said firmly, making sure I was in clear view, and fixing him with a stern gaze.
He needed to know that we weren’t afraid, that we were in control and that he was in safe hands. I caught sight of Rosie, she was gently maneuvering herself to be able to check Pete’s legs whilst he began to regain control over his panic.
“That’s it, good job.” I encouraged, “Nice and easy. Now, can you tell me are you having any difficulty or issues breathing?”
“Okay, and do you have any medical conditions that we should be aware of? Or past history of them?” I asked.
“No, none.” He replied.
I nodded to Rosie to go back and report the situation. She got to her feet and disappeared from view, but not without Pete noticing.
“Where is she going?”
“It’s okay,” I reassured him, “She’s just got to pass on the information you just told me, so that the paramedics are aware.”
I didn’t want him getting into a state again, so I resorted to distraction techniques instead.
“Tell me Pete, are you married?”
He blinked a couple of times in quick succession, taken off guard by my random question.
“Yes.” He answered.
“How long for?”
“Three years. We met at work, were together for a couple of years before I finally managed to pluck up the courage.”
I noticed the slight glisten in his eyes from tears, and carried on.
“I bet she’ll be keeping you on a tight leash after this little mishap.” I teased, earning a small smile in response.
“She’s a worrier, this will terrify her.”
“Well then, looks like she’ll need you to be strong for her won’t she. We’ll get you out of here, patched up and back to being her rock before you know it. What’s the lucky lady’s name?”
I kept him talking for the next minute or so, and soon enough the paramedics arrived, taking over with evaluating Pete’s condition, whilst I got to work on the extraction with the rest of the Watch.
The other car’s occupant had already been extracted, much easier, and taken, by ambulance, to hospital, leaving the attention to be focused on getting Pete safely out of the car. As always, we moved through the process quickly and carefully, forcing the doors and stretching a line through the width of the car. Myself and Rosie were in control of then tensioning that line to take up Pete’s weight. It wasn’t long before the long board was being passed along the roof of the car until directly beneath him.
“Okay, steady recline now.” Alex said from his place by the side of the car.
Pete’s seat began to recline, one of the others in charge of keeping the movement at a slow and gentle pace until he was lined up at the right angle, then signalled to stop.
“Cutting now.” Will’s voice called out.
The seatbelt was cut, Pete’s full weight now being held purely by myself and Rosie. Our eyes locked together in concentration, the next part needing to be done delicately and without any mistakes. Focusing solely on one another, we slowly lowered the line together, until Pete was safely upon the waiting board.
Back at the station that evening, everyone was settled into bed sleeping away, the occasional sound of Will’s snoring drifting through the room from his bunk at the end. Everyone except me that was. I lay there staring at the ceiling, my mind wide awake and unable to relax. I tossed and turned for a few minutes before sighing and getting up. Making my way, quietly, across the floor, I grabbed my hoodie, throwing it on and zipping it up.
The station was quiet, and I walked through, my destination up ahead, beyond the glass door to the roof. When I reached it and made my way outside, I took a deep breath of the cold, clean air. I felt it filling my lungs and instantly relaxed. I could smell the scent of roses from the pot plants to the side. They smelled even sweeter at night than they did in the day. I proceeded to the edge of the wall, resting my arms upon the cold, rough brick and looking down at the illuminated street. It was mostly empty, except for the odd slow moving car, or person walking along the path. It was almost like another world down there at this hour. I often came up here when I couldn’t sleep, there was a calm state that washed over me at the slow pace in the early hours. I guess with the speed of the job, it was nice to know that you could still slow down now and again.
“I didn’t know anyone else would be up here.”
I looked up to see Rosie now standing next to me, her silvery eyes fixed ahead on the glowing horizon.
“I couldn’t sleep.” I replied.
She nodded slowly, but didn’t comment.
“Right after Green Watch lost Chris and Ali, I struggled to sleep.” She said, not taking her eyes off of the skyline in front of her. “I was right there when the floor above collapsed. Chris knocked me out of the way, saved me. It took him and our new recruit out though.” She turned back to me, a grim smile on her face as she shrugged. “Nightmares after that kind of thing are a bitch.”
I knew only too well what she meant. Although I’d never been as close to the incident as she had. I’d been close to life or death incidents, we all had. It was part of the job. My respect for her shot up at the knowledge that she had to live with that memory of being so close to death, and yet saved by a man who didn’t make it. She nodded to my arm.
“I’ve seen the tattoos, the whole Watch. Was an explosion right?” She asked.
“Yeah. I was outside on one of the hoses. He just didn’t make it out.”
“Me too.” I replied. “Did they have family?”
“Yeah. Chris was married, they’d been together for over twenty years, no kids though. Ali was single, his parents lived nearby though.”
It was always heartbreaking, the families left behind when these things happened. It wasn’t just a painful event, it was one that had a ripple effect that sent waves through numerous lives.
“Derek was married, two kids, I was there when they were told. I saw the moment that the news broke them.” I said, recalling their faces on that day.
I’d never been able to shake that image from my mind. The way that they clung to one another, their heartbroken sobs ringing in my ears. We could offer them no kind of comfort or cure for that pain. Nothing that would count anyway.
“And even with that pain, and that knowledge, here we are.” Rosie retorted.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.” I replied.
Our eyes met and I saw the strength and determination in her gaze.
“Me too.” She said simply.
I smiled at her, and just like that, we returned to the view, feeling a little closer after the day that we shared. I was happy to have her as a part of the team.