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I was in London yesterday for a meeting with an author (we’re finally starting to catch up on things which have unfortunately been held in abeyance while we concentrated on At The Going Down Of The Sun) and my journey took me onto the Tube.

We were held up near Baker Street because of what the announcer called ‘a person on the line’.

It reminded me of this sad and horrific element of Stuart Gray’s A Paramedic’s Diary (kindle version available here, we have paperbacks ourselves here, with free postage and packing):

THE ONE I REMEMBER most vividly was my first.

It happened at London Bridge station a while back and it ended up being shown in an episode on BBC’s Trauma programme, a fly-on-the-wall documentary series following emergency crews as they went about their business.

I was working with a colleague on a routine transfer call, and had just arrived at the address when this higher priority call came through as a GB*: ‘One-under at London Bridge, any mobile able to respond please press Priority.’

We pressed the button and got the call.

I wasn’t at all sure if I wanted it, but then what normal human being looks forward to seeing what a man looks like after a tube train has run over the top of him?

We got the blue lights on, dodged through the afternoon traffic and were on-scene within a few minutes.

A couple of solo paramedics had already arrived and we made our way down the escalators to see what we could do to help.

It was hot and noisy and sweaty, but all thought of personal comfort evaporated when we got to the platform.

The train had stopped and most of it was inside the tunnel; the last carriage or two was still on at the platform and we could see the activity underneath.

Diary of a Paramedic

A paramedic was already there, tending to the patient who, incredibly, was still alive. According to witnesses, he had jumped in front of the train (one-unders are usually witnessed, by the poor driver if nobody else) and had been dragged underneath.

His torso had hit the train but his head had failed to make contact. Now he was trapped underneath, with massive internal injuries, affecting his chest and abdomen.

Amazingly, he hadn’t lost any limbs and he didn’t have a mark on his head.

He was still breathing and just about conscious. He wasn’t talking to anyone, just moaning and groaning softly. My crew mate and I got down and crawled under as far as we could to offer our assistance.

The LFB (fire brigade) had arrived and they were going to lift the train off the track so that we could slide the man and ourselves out from underneath. Unfortunately, they can only lift the train a few inches off the rails, so it’s still a tight and dangerous squeeze on exit.

Another crew had arrived now, and a trolley bed and further equipment was being brought down.

HEMS* arrived; the first thing I knew about it was when I turned around to speak to someone and found myself looking at an orange-suited doctor and a BBC camera. (My butt was the first thing you saw of me on the programme when it aired.)

We continued to try and untangle the man’s body; he was twisted under the train’s metal structures and was effectively caught on the bottom with his legs wrapped around a cross-bar.

As soon as the train was moved and he was freed, I heard yelling and banging around and someone calling for suction. Something had gone wrong. I passed the suction equipment through and the horribly injured guy was dragged out after a few seconds. He had gone into cardiac arrest.He was resuscitated on the platform, and a thoracotomy was prepared. This is something HEMS can do but we cannot; it’s a hugely invasive procedure that involves cutting holes in the chest at each side and then cutting right across and opening the chest cavity in order to get at the internal organs, particularly the heart, directly.

I have never seen anyone survive a thoracotomy, it is just about the most desperate thing you can do, a last-gasp, last hope affair.

On this occasion, once the holes were put in, resus had become so desperate that the decision was made not to open him up completely. I was bagging the man, and every time I pushed air into his lungs blood would spurt out of the two holes in his side. It wasn’t pretty.

As I ventilated him, I looked down at his face. He was well-fed, and his clothes weren’t begging gear. He didn’t look like he had come off the street, he looked as though he had a life somewhere. He had a number of tattoos on his body, including one of the Scottish flag. A fellow countryman.

The resus effort was called off after almost an hour of hard work. There was no way he could be brought back. His internal injuries were significant enough to have caused him to lose almost all of his blood: there was certainly enough of it around that platform.

As he was bagged up, I wondered what had driven him to this. I wondered, too, what it had been like.

How would it feel to stand on a platform, waiting for the distant rattle and echo of an approaching train, with commuters and tourists chatting away nearby, counting down the final seconds of your life?

And what would it be like as you threw yourself onto the track?

He’d have been hoping for a sudden despatch, but that’s not what he got. He had suffered for some time after being hit by the train, though his plans had eventually come to their terminal fruition.

He had achieved what he had set out to do. But why had he done it?

A few weeks after this job, my second call of the night – after a successful resuscitation – was to attend a ‘one under’ at a central London tube station.

The LFB, police and an ambulance were on scene and a motorcycle solo had travelled with me. A large crowd had gathered outside the station because the evacuation alarm had been activated and the station had been cleared.

The crowd made it difficult to get access to the entrance, and I had to struggle through the mass of people to get to the gates, which were being guarded by the police and underground staff.

On the platform, a group of medics, police officers, fire personnel and tube staff had gathered.

One of my colleagues had volunteered to get under the train with a fireman and they had both climbed down, only to be told to keep still because nobody was sure if the power was off.

They both froze where they were, but not before my colleague had checked the man’s vital signs and found them to be absent – he wasn’t breathing and he didn’t have a pulse.

He was still lying where he’d been hit, everyone waiting for the tube staff to verify that the power was off.

It’s hot and dirty down there and the last thing you need is the additional worry of possible electrocution: two colleagues from my station had previously suffered severe electric shocks under a train after being given assurances that it was safe.

They could easily have been killed and this risk is simply not acceptable, especially when the person who jumped may well be dead anyway.

I looked underneath the train and saw a man lying on his side with a large pool of blood around his head. He wasn’t breathing at all. He had obviously died of his injuries but we still had to get under the train to confirm that. We stood on the platform with all the other services, waiting for the word.

Once the all-clear was given, further checks were made but it was obvious the man hadn’t survived. The HEMS team arrived just as the two volunteers were climbing out of the pit.

I described what we had and the doctor got down to confirm that the man was beyond help. I went in with him and waited until he had done what was necessary.

The body was left where it lay and the train was moved away to reveal it for the police and Coroner to examine. It wouldn’t be moved until that had been done, so the platform would remain closed.

Outside, the traffic was building up. Long queues were developing all over the West End, partly due to the sudden increase in taxis flooding the area to carry commuters home, and partly because of some existing road works. The main cause of the chaos, however, was the virtual car-park of emergency vehicles in the area and the forced closure of the roads around the station.

I left the station platform and headed for fresh air.

While I was doing the paperwork, a member of London Underground staff approached me and asked if I could take care of a young woman who had been sitting outside the station entrance, crying. I took her to the car and she was soon joined by a friend who had been called to take her home. I decided to take her to hospital, with her agreement, because she was in a very bad emotional state.

During the journey, which was painfully slow due to the heavy traffic, I looked at her in my rear-view mirror. Her face was a mask of deep and painful emotion; she looked haunted, her eyes almost terrified, and she said nothing throughout the journey.

Who was this frightened, scarred young woman?

She was the commuter who had been standing next to the man when he had jumped in front of the train.

*’General Broadcast’ – a radio alert which goes out to ALL frontline vehicles, known as mobiles, on a specific channel. The broadcast contains information or requests crews to ‘green up’ and make themselves available for a call that is queuing. At busy times, GBs are common.

**HEMS. The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service, based at the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel. They are an elite team of doctors and paramedics who are called to the most serious patients, where difficult entrapment or major trauma is involved. Sometimes they travel by helicopter (during daylight hours) and sometimes in a specially-liveried fast response car. They are activated either directly by Control or by crew request.

 

LIEUTENANT DANIEL CLACK

8 PL, C COY, 1 RIFLES

MARCH 25, 1987 – AUGUST 12, 2011

Dan Clack

Lt Dan Clack: His final letter read, ‘Dear Mum, I must start by apologising for the pain you are going through now…I hope you take some comfort from knowing that I was always prepared to make this sacrifice.’

LIEUTENANT DAN CLACK was a much-loved son, boyfriend and brother.

He was also loved and respected by his men from the moment they met him. ‘He was the best young officer I’ve worked with,’ said his platoon serjeant, Darren Gornall. ‘I know when tragic events happen they always say that the person was outstanding, but in Dan’s case it really is the truth.’

Lt Clack was killed, aged twenty-four, by an IED packed with ball-bearings while on patrol in Nahr-e Saraj, Helmand Province.

His mother, Sue, and father, Martin, and some of those with whom he served, have been kind enough to tell Graham Bound the story of Dan’s life and death, and we are proud to be able to share it in our new book At The Going Down Of the Sun.

If you read nothing else today, you really should read the following two letters.

The first is the letter Dan Clack left for his fellow soldiers of The Rifles, to be opened only in the event of his death:

Dan Clack note to his men

The second is the letter he left behind for his mum, Sue:

Dan to Mum

[Note: this is a repost for Facebook]

See also:

CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON, RIP

CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JAKE ALDERTON, RIP

CORPORAL SARAH BRYANT, RIP

CORPORAL ROB DEERING, RIP

ACTING SERGEANT SEAN BINNIE, RIP

RIFLEMAN CYRUS THATCHER, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL DANE ELSON, RIP

RIFLEMAN WILL ALDRIDGE

CORPORAL CHRIS HARRISON, RIP

LANCE BOMBARDIER MARK CHANDLER, RIP

MARINE STEVEN BIRDSALL, RIP

PRIVATE TOM SEPHTON, RIP

RANGER AARON MCCORMICK, RIP

COLOUR SERJEANT KEVIN FORTUNA, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JON MCKINLAY, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL PETER EUSTACE, RIP

LANCE SERGEANT DAN COLLINS, RIP

CORPORAL CHANNING DAY, RIP

WE RARELY ASK people to make noise about any of our books, because it’s a bit cheeky.

We pay someone to do a little PR, and if the books get noticed they get noticed. If they don’t, they don’t, c’est la vie.

But please do tweet about, talk about, blog about At The Going Down Of The Sun.

We’d be so grateful if you could tell your friends and work colleagues and family members about it, review it on Amazon (and elsewhere), select it for your book clubs… you get the picture.

Small publishers like Monday Books have a great deal of difficulty in cutting through to the mainstream media, for whatever reason.

It’s even tougher at this time of year, when the shops (and review sections) are full of cookery books, celebrity autobiographies and novelty titles for Christmas.

We’re not complaining, we do fine anyway (though it would be nice if some of the newspaper and magazine books pages we’ve sent copies to decided to review the book).

But we could just do with whatever help we can get from you.

Yes, of course we have a commercial interest in this (though we will be donating to military charities, too), but it really is not about that.

It’s about getting the stories of people like Jim Philippson, Channing Day, Peter Eustace, Dan Clack and Mark Wright out there to as wide an audience as possible.

More than any other book we’ve ever been involved in, this has been a labour of love.

It’s more important than any book we’ve ever published, or perhaps ever will.

We’ve shed tears and almost sweated blood over it in the last year or eighteen months, and we just want people to be aware of it.

Thanks in advance.

atthegoingdownofthesun-cover_web.jpg

A fifth of all crime goes unrecorded, according to ‘shocking’ new figures revealed by HMIC.

It depends on your definition of shocking, really.

We revealed this kind of thing some years ago in Wasting Police Time, Perverting the Course of Justice and Diary of an On-Call Girl.

Here is Inspector Gadget in Perverting the Course of Justice explaining why it is that even when they aren’t ‘no criming’ it as being down to badgers, the cops don’t always come out when your shed gets broken into (it’s not always because the bobbies at the sharp end don’t want to):

CONTROL STRATEGY CRIME, AND OTHER JARGON THAT WINDS PEOPLE UP

TWO other things I explain to people who complain, if they still have the will to live, are Control Strategy Crime and Volume Crime. They’re separate but intertwined, like much of the semi-impenetrable undergrowth of police bureaucracy.

I was at a dinner party the other night. As the only policeman there, I was obviously cornered for most of the evening by people who wanted to ask how many people I had shot (none) / ask if it’s true that you can drink three pints on a full stomach and still drive (it’s not) / complain about the police.

One chap, Steve, was quite persistent. He’d been the victim of a criminal damage: his garage door had been sprayed with the word ‘Tosser’ and the window in the side of the garage had been smashed.

‘I phoned your lot,’ said Steve. ‘All they were interested in was giving me a crime number to claim on my insurance. What about coming out to look for the buggers that did it?’

I couldn’t speak for his specific case – different force – but it was a familiar story.

This is about Control Strategy Crime and Volume Crime.

CS Crime means types of crime that bureaucrats, our own and those in the Home Office hundreds of miles away, dictate to us as priorities. They will always include the really big stuff like rape and murder, plus domestic burglary and street robbery, but the other six or so will be things that will come onto and drop off our crime control strategy from time to time. I’ve just looked, and today they are:

Commercial premises burglary

Burglary non-dwelling (sheds)

Criminal damage

Theft from motor vehicles

Theft of motor vehicles

Assaults

Shed burglaries just came onto our list at the expense of class A drug use.

That’s not because people round our way aren’t bothered about heroin addicts on the streets, and they really care about the theft of Strimmers, it’s because our analysts say we’ve got Class A drugs under control for the time being, so we aren’t worried about that any more.

On the other hand, we’ve had a few shed breaks, so we need to get right on it. This means that everything we’ve got in terms of proactive resources – cameras, technical, scenes of crime, surveillance units – is diverted to the sheds.

It means identifying offenders, looking into recent prison releases, leafleting homes, target-hardening and crime prevention.

It means putting people out in plain clothes at night, focusing all the down time on those areas, targeting handlers.

It means that every single person, when they are not doing a job, goes to those places where the sheds have been hit before, because it is not just a type of crime, it is an area too, a ‘hot spot’.

‘Volume Crime’, meanwhile, is stuff exactly like that in the list above – the thefts from motor vehicles, minor criminal damages, shed burglaries, graffiti and all the attempts to do these sorts of things – but which is not at such a level, locally, as to have made it to the Control Strategy Crime list.

The Home Office says, officially, that we need not investigate these crimes as long as they’re not currently on our Control Strategy, and they fit certain criteria.

These can be evidential (Did anyone witness the crime? Does anyone know who the offenders are? Did they leave anything behind? Is it on camera?) or value-based (If something was nicked or damaged, how much was it worth?)

The interplay between these two factors can, unsurprisingly, confuse and annoy our punters.

I assume Steve’s force didn’t have criminal damage on its list of Control Strategy Crime when he called, which is why they fobbed him off. If it is on the list the following week, after a spate of such incidents, and his neighbour’s garage gets done over, the neighbour will get the full works.

I understand how bad this looks.

I don’t like not investigating crimes, however minor they might be.

I would love it if every burglary victim got CSI and an investigating officer there within a reasonable time.

I think it would be great if we could attend every criminal damage report, even if it turns out there is nothing there for us in the way of leads.

Broken windows policing, pioneered in New York, where low-level crime is vigorously pursued, has a lot going for it (as long as the offenders get proper sanctions at court, which they wouldn’t in the UK but do in the States).

We like hassling petty criminals.

But we’re back to our old friend reality again. What I would like, and you would like, is one thing: what we can deliver with current resources and ways of working is another.

Steve’s garage is just the tip of the iceberg.

If you visit Google and type in the phrase ‘police fail to investigate crimes’ you come up with a stack of newspaper stories from November 2007.

A typical headline, from The Sunday Telegraph, is: ‘Official: Police leave two million crimes uninvestigated’.

In the story, the reporter explains how we are ‘refusing to investigate crimes including huge numbers of burglaries and thefts’.

The implication is that we are giving criminals an easy ride, and the story was widely commented upon, mostly by angry readers. The redoubtable Norman Brennan, the chairman of the Victims of Crime Trust and (then) a serving police officer, told the paper: ‘The public are our masters and have a right to know why we don’t turn up to every call and investigate every crime.’

There are two elements to this. The first is about solving crimes. The second is doing all we can to try to solve them.

There are some crimes we have no chance of ever clearing up.

I’m sorry if that sounds defeatist, but it’s the truth. Often, there just are no lines of enquiry – people smash up a bus stop at 2am and run off, there’s no CCTV and no-one sees them. There’s not much we can really do about that.

However, in many cases, as Steve would confirm, we don’t even turn up to have a look.

This is because, if we attended the scene and carried out an investigation every time anyone threw a brick through a window, or scratched a car, or wrote ‘Tosser’ on a garage, the whole law enforcement system as it currently stands, with existing resources, would grind to a halt and we would not be able to deal with more serious things.

If Sunday Telegraph readers really want us to investigate every one of those two million volume crimes, they need to understand that this will require a sizeable hike in the tax levy to pay for even more police.

A practical example. We regularly get people calling to complain that their neighbour’s burglar alarm has been ringing for hours and we haven’t turned up. I’ve read research suggesting that something like 13 million burglar alarms go off every year. If we attended them all, we’d need a police force twice the size of the US Army. So what we do is ask the caller to go and have a quick look and see if he can see anything suspicious, at which point he gets outraged, and starts asking what he pays his taxes for.

(Of course, if we cut back on our paperwork and got more of us out on the streets, we could certainly cover much more than we do with our current numbers.)

Most reasonable people understand this – even if they don’t like it – when you explain it to them.

It would help if police forces and the Government took that line, instead of making dream world promises about how they’re going to deal with minor crime through Neighbourhood Policing and Citizen Focus and whatever follows next.

It would also help if [Victims of Crime Trust founder] Norman Brennan’s suggestion that ‘the public have a right to know why we don’t turn up to every call and investigate every crime’ was accompanied by an explanation from Norman as to why this is the case.

The truth is, only people who can really deal with much of this stuff are the public themselves.

Indeed, they used to deal with it without us and, in many parts of the country, they still do. In the village where I live, for instance, we don’t have problems with kids smashing up the phone box, because our local parents control their kids. No-one else does that for us.

It’s not because of the massive police presence in the area, because there isn’t one. In a lot of places, people now look to the police to do that kind of job, but we just can’t do it, however much we might like to.

In the absence of 200,000 new bobbies or a radical change in working practices, I suppose we do have to have some method of getting crime down to a manageable heap.

Personally, I don’t think it should be done on how much of it there is; I think it should be done on the moral equivalence of it.

If 90-year-old Gladys has had some scumbag in her house nicking her life savings, that should be of greater priority than some drug dealer who gets boshed over the head when a deal goes wrong.

But it won’t be, because his is a ‘street crime’ and hers is just a theft.

Sorry, Gladys.

 

Graham Bound, author of At The Going Down Of The Sun, has written an excellent piece in the Indie about Kajaki, the death of Cpl Mark Wright GC, and the film of the incident.

 

 

CORPORAL CHANNING DAY

3 MEDICAL REGIMENT, ROYAL ARMY MEDICAL CORPS

MARCH 12, 1987 – OCTOBER 24, 2012

Scan 3

Channing Day as a little girl: she was a shy wee thing, but always smiling.

CHANNING DAY WAS a tiny slip of a girl who was turned away from the Army recruitment office by the Royal Engineers because she was two centimetres shorter than their minimum height requirement.

She was distraught – she had wanted to be a soldier like her dad, Leslie, almost from the moment she could walk, and would stomp around the house in his boots.

But then her mum Rosemary found out that the Royal Army Medical Corps had different requirements, and Channing signed up as a combat medic.

It’s a dangerous, front-line role – you are out on patrol, under fire, most days; her best friend from training, Pte Eleanor Dlugosz, was killed in Iraq in 2007.

But Channing survived Iraq, and then a first tour of Afghanistan – during which she saved the life of a badly injured soldier under fire.

In 2012, she was back in theatre, attached to 40 Commando.

Channing with MarinesChanning cuts a tiny figure alongside her comrades ahead of a patrol.

The fighting was fierce. Medics don’t always use their weapons, but at times the Taliban were so close that Channing was forced to defend herself and her mates.

Tragically, on October 24, she was shot dead on patrol, along with Royal Marine Corporal David O’Connor, by a rogue Afghan policeman.

Cpl Day was twenty-five; Cpl O’Connor, twenty-seven.

Graham Bound interviewed Channing’s mother Rosemary, and her comrades-in-arms, for At The Going Down Of The Sun, and it is a great honour for us to be able to tell her story. She is the twentieth and final subject of the book.

See also:

CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON, RIP

CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JAKE ALDERTON, RIP

CORPORAL SARAH BRYANT, RIP

CORPORAL ROB DEERING, RIP

ACTING SERGEANT SEAN BINNIE, RIP

RIFLEMAN CYRUS THATCHER, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL DANE ELSON, RIP

RIFLEMAN WILL ALDRIDGE, RIP

CORPORAL CHRIS HARRISON, RIP

LANCE BOMBARDIER MARK CHANDLER, RIP

MARINE STEVEN BIRDSALL, RIP

PRIVATE TOM SEPHTON, RIP

RANGER AARON MCCORMICK, RIP

COLOUR SERJEANT KEVIN FORTUNA, RIP

LIEUTENANT DAN CLACK, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JON MCKINLAY, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL PETER EUSTACE, RIP

LANCE SERGEANT DAN COLLINS, RIP

LANCE SERGEANT DANIEL COLLINS

FIRE SUPPORT GROUP 3, 1 WELSH GUARDS

AUGUST 13, 1982 – JANUARY 1, 2012

Daniel Collins 1 copy

Dan Collins takes a breather on patrol in Afghanistan. The things he saw and did out there haunted him.

DANIEL COLLINS WAS a strong, tough soldier, and the kind of man the British Army has been founded upon since the days of Wellington. He had spent more than a decade in the Welsh Guards, where he was an outstanding NCO. He was a member of the elite Fire Support Group, had worked undercover in Northern Ireland, and had special forces potential.

He was a ‘bullet magnet’ who had been blown up twice and shot twice in Afghanistan, and had laughed about it.

And he was a close friend of Dane Elson: he had taken it upon himself to collect up his friend’s body parts, after Dane’s grisly death in an IED blast in July 2009.

He never recovered from that experience.

On New Year’s Eve 2011, Daniel left the home he shared with his girlfriend Vicky, and drove into the Preseli Mountains in northern Pembrokeshire. There, haunted by the memories of lost friends, and of Afghans he had killed, he hanged himself.

He left behind a video message to his mother, Deana, in which he sobbed as he said:

 Hey mum, just a video, just to say I’m sorry, okay? Ever since I’ve come back from hell, I’ve turned into a horrible person, and I don’t like who I am anymore. This is why I’m doing what I’m doing, okay? I know it’s selfish but it’s what I want and what I need. I can’t live like this anymore. One thing I’d like to ask is could I have a full military funeral, if that’s possible? That’s how I’d like to go. Mum, please don’t get too upset. You’ve got to understand this is what I want. I’ve tried all the help. There’s nothing seems to be working, okay? I love you, okay, and I’ll see you, I’ll see you up there in a few years – well, hopefully not a few years, but you know what I mean. I love you. Bye bye.

See also:

CAPTAIN JAMES PHILIPPSON, RIP

CORPORAL MARK WRIGHT GC, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JAKE ALDERTON, RIP

CORPORAL SARAH BRYANT, RIP

CORPORAL ROB DEERING, RIP

ACTING SERGEANT SEAN BINNIE, RIP

RIFLEMAN CYRUS THATCHER, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL DANE ELSON, RIP

RIFLEMAN WILL ALDRIDGE

CORPORAL CHRIS HARRISON, RIP

LANCE BOMBARDIER MARK CHANDLER, RIP

MARINE STEVEN BIRDSALL, RIP

PRIVATE TOM SEPHTON, RIP

RANGER AARON MCCORMICK, RIP

COLOUR SERJEANT KEVIN FORTUNA, RIP

LIEUTENANT DAN CLACK, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL JON MCKINLAY, RIP

LANCE CORPORAL PETER EUSTACE, RIP

CORPORAL CHANNING DAY, RIP

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