Well that probably rated as one of the worst weekends on duty I’ve ever done.
It was supposed to be simple: a football tournament in a nearby town that needed a couple of first aiders for when the tackles got a bit enthusiastic. Easy. Yes I was managing an event I had no involvement in organising, and a team I hadn’t met, but I could probably handle that. I’ve done that before. A friend told me: if I could handle a large team of unruly students, I should be able to deal with a couple of adults. I’m not quite sure I agree, but I like the idea.
I was all planned, in fact I was the most planned I think I’ve ever been for an event (sometimes having nerves is a good thing). All my paperwork was ready, my kit was stocked, the radios I had borrowed were charged. I even had all my travel plans sorted. In short, I was all set.
So I arrived at the event with enough time to meet the event organiser, do a last risk assessment on the site and get all settled in time for everyone else arrived. I had a minor blip where I needed to treat about twenty minutes before the event started, but it was only a minor injury that I referred on to the local minor injuries unit. So far, so good.
The scheduled time of the duty start, 0930, came around. I went out to meet my team, just to make sure they didn’t go to the wrong place (easy to do on the site). I scouted around the entire car park. No hi-viz, no logo, nothing to be seen.
Right, so they’re going to be a bit late. Not a problem, I was sure they would have a good reason. I was starting to get gently teased by the event organisers, but I could hold the fort for a little while.
1000. Okay, we’re starting to get beyond the realms of just a little late. The football games are starting to kick off, and I don’t really have the gear to handle an event of this size on my own for longer.
1030. Now I’m getting a bit cross. An hour late for an event in your home town isn’t really on. I live miles away and managed to get there on time… I started making a few calls, trying to get hold of my friend who had organised the event, who presumably could get hold of the members I was missing. I had no joy there, he appeared to be somewhere where they had no signal. My next attempt was his mother, hoping she would know something about what was going on. Again, no luck. However, if I could get to her place of work, I could get hold of a set of keys that would allow me to get some equipment.
1100 I was now furious. I still had no staff, and no word from anyone as to what was going on. Not only that, I now needed to approach the event organiser and ask if they could arrange a lift for me to go get my equipment. To describe me as embarrassed would be an understatement.
1130 I have now left the site with the event organiser (leaving them with no first aid cover), to get my equipment. My friend’s mother has promised me that backup are on their way.
1200 I arrived back on the site, to find the best sight I had seen all day: two first aiders sitting in my first aid post, reading through my operational plan.
From now on, everything pretty much went to plan. I had a few rants about missing people, we shared the normal war stories about what we’d done on duties around the county, and even treated a couple of people (including a very interesting dislocated knee).
The next day wasn’t any better. I started the day with the excellent experience of losing my wallet, including the bus ticket that I needed to get me home, which essentially left me stranded in this town when the event was done.
I had enough staff from the start this time, though they were two of the people I had been expecting the previous day. Which made things difficult, because I couldn’t really rant about the day before.
After a rather awkward seven hours, I called one of my other friends and asked them very nicely for a lift home. Thankfully they were able to help, and they met me just outside of the town. I was particularly grateful because the weather had brightened up and I was dressed for wet weather. Had I tried to walk home, what would have worked out as at least a two-hour walk, I almost certainly would have regretted it.
I remembered when I got home that the friday before had been the 13th. I must remember not to manage duties the weekend after this, ever again…