Sunday, 3 July 2011


It's late, as usual.  I am on my way back home, after having been called in for a paediatric trauma - the patient, a 13 year old boy, was bigger than me, and virtually unharmed.  I am driving along the motorway, looking forward to bed, when I see, right in front of me in the fast and middle lanes, two cars, both stationary, one pointing the wrong way.  Brakes, swerve, stop.  I can see one of the drivers, but the other car, the one with it's bonnet towards me, is empty.

I flick my blue lights on, park appropriately to warn other drivers, and get out.  I don my flight suit, so that I am safe, and approach the driver.  He is unharmed, somewhat shaken, and rather worried about his cargo of china that he has in his car.  I help him across the motorway, where the other driver is sitting on the hard shoulder, unharmed but somewhat shaken.

I call 999 and let the police know what has happened, and tell them that I am in a blue-light vehicle, and that I have parked appropriately, in order that other drivers can see.  The police officer I am speaking to tells me that is inappropriate, and that, as long as there are no injured parties, I should continue on my journey.  I think this is somewhat odd, but decide to do as I am told.

Making my way back across the motorway, I watch in horror as a car hurtles towards to the accident scene at breakneck speed, swerving all over the road and coming to a very unsteady stop, mere inches from the cars.  I think about what might have happened had my blue lights not been visible, and know that I would have been called back.

I'm staying.


  1. Thank heavens you got there before that next car! That police officer you spoke to? Is a twonk.

  2. I tend to agree: however, I have had a chat with some friendly police officers today, who tell me that, unless you are trained to stop traffic and put your car in the way of others, even if you have blue lights, you are not allowed to do so. Even non-traffic police, if they come across an accident, are not supposed to do what I did. Even though they probably would...

  3. that's stupid, we're 'trained' as ambulance staff how to warn following traffic if we arrive before police do. this amounts to 2 minutes of 'block as much of the road as you can, try not to leave them a space to squeeze past or get near where you're working, cos if they can, they will'

  4. In Germany I believe if you hadn't done that you might have been in trouble. It is the law to stop at the scene of an accident and act appropriately - and that includes securing the scene to prevent further incidents. What a jobsworth attitude - YOU could have been injured without the presence of your vehicle and until you had ascertained there were no injured surely what you did was right. Certainly in terms of being better than a warning triangle - which might as well be made of chocolate...

  5. Can you imagine the press reports if you had done as you were told?
    "Doctor abandons car crash victims to die in second smash."
    It sounds like PC was trying to give "health & safety" advice without appreciating the situation or listening to the professional on site. Arm chair safety experts drive real safety professionals up the wall. Appropriate advice would have been along the lines of move the casualties to safety if possible and stand well back from the carriageway and await assistance.

    Rant over.

    Keep up the good work RRD

  6. was it an actual police officer you spoke to a or a phone drone ? police call taking suffers from the same problems as Ambulance call taking in that the call takers may have no operational exposure never mind experience and consequently can only do what the computer says ...

  7. My personal favourite experience of traffic police comes from an RTC that happened less than 100m away from my old college, just at the end of the day.

    A little bit of background: This was the 3rd collision on this particular junction (residential area, 1 road uphill-downhill has priority, other road crosses at right angles on the contour of the hill and has give way lines & warning signs) which had happened in exactly the same way (car from contour road has impacted the side of a car travelling up/down the hill) in the space of 5 weeks. The first of those three saw a mate of mine in a taxi be hospitalised due to his injuries.

    Anyways, this third collision, I went towards it in order to see if I could offer my assistance, as a trained first aider. As I walk closer, I notice that the cars are completely blocking all four approaches to the junction: it is impassable in any direction. A couple of occupants are moving towards the side of the road. Somebody is sitting next to a tree, clearly from the accident.

    Just as I get over halfway to the scene, a traffic police car (identified as traffic because its a volvo hatchback with full strobe lightbar) races past me, and stops in a fend-off position with "on-scene" blues profile pretty much on top of the scene itself - in fact, had I not seen it stop, I'd have been convinced it must've been involved in the collision, so close was it parked!

    Before I'd managed to get to the scene, I'd witnessed a vehicle approach behind the police car, and move to the wrong side of the road in an attempt to drive around the collision, before reversing and having to stop because a following vehicle was about to attempt the same thing. As I got on scene, I realised that before I check any casualty, I should make the scene safe, so went to look for the police officers who'd disembarked from their ill-parked vehicle. In the time it took me to find them, a third vehicle almost joined the collision, because it had swerved around the police car and suddenly found the road impassable.

    My advice to the driver of the police car was to reverse it back as far as the next junction - about 50m away - and park squarely in the middle of the road, with the "road closed" red profile active - and the LED sign in the back of his car changed from "POLICE - ACCIDENT" to "ROAD - CLOSED". Before he had the chance to do that, however, we witnessed a coach swerve around the police car, and get trapped - because a car had followed the coach, and was preventing it from reversing. Cue the police officer needing to manually direct traffic at the junction I'd indicated, ask the car to reverse, and guide the coach safely back.

    Once the police car had been parked in a protective position to close the road and force everyone to turn at the preceding junction, there were no more vehicles getting too close to the scene for comfort...

    This, and another scene I attended for similar reasons where the police car hadn't the faintest idea of how to protect it, has lead me to check my own safety at a scene, and keep it under review whenever anything else with lights on the roof turns up!