British Divers Marine Life Rescue
British Divers Marine Life Rescue (photo: Steve Marsh)
British Divers Marine Rescue


2006-01-08 14:09:48

All dressed up and no place to go... a BDMLR Medics' first call-out

My first call out!


The phone calls. "Hello Graeme, this is Graham. There is a seal on the beach at South Shields that has been hit by a power boat. Can you make it out there?"

"Errr, oooh errr goodness, bu**er (and lots more rude words your mam doesn't think you say) etc , errr yes I think I can. I know I can!". My stumbling indecision must have put Graham at ease. It took me at least 30 seconds to think of a sound plan of action regarding how, who, when, where and how to dump the lot of them and high-tail it out to the coast.

Suddenly I get all empowered and think, screw the next 3 appointments, I am on a mission to help a creature in distress, bo**ocks to them all! It's great being a manager.

And so I ask what I need, because despite all promises to myself the car has naff-all equipment in it and I am 8 miles from my home base.

"Its a seal, boots and a warm jacket. I have all the stuff here that we need". Thank goodness one of use is an experienced person with a brain and a plan.

Jibbering excuses like "Is it ok to move the appointment Mrs Anderson, I have a seal to catch" and " I am sorry I can't make it this afternoon Mr Richards but my pinnipeds are giving me proper gyp" I clear my diary and head off to the coast.

"This is it, this is it! My first call out. What will I do? Will I let the team and the animal down? Where did Graham say it was again? South Shields next to the pier. S**t! Where is my phone? (it was under the clutch pedal all the time). What if I get stopped for speeding! Why can't I have one of those fancy lights and sirens like the doctors have? Jeezuz! GET THE HELL OUT OF THE ROAD! Honestly, school kids just get everywhere at 3pm!"

And inside I am really excited but upset too. I want to attend but the very fact that my area co-ordinator has called me means that something bad has happened and I don't know what to expect.

"It has been reported that a seal has been hit by a power boat and observers say it looks badly injured" and I am thinking "Oh hell, my first call out and it is for a cut up seal, the poor bu**er! Badly injured and having to cope with me trying to 'MMM' it to bits. How can I do this and not let this injured and in pain animal down?"

"Well bo**ocks, I got the call, I am going to do my best whether the fiesty bu**er likes it or not"

You want to know something? I was wondering if it would be better dead if it got hit by a power boat rather than lying dying on a beach, in pain and surrounded by strange upright creatures fussing around it.

The needle on the centre dial swung past 120. Cars flashed by in reverse. I wondered how I was going to sell this to a court. "Its ok, we are a nation of animal lovers, they'll understand."

Funny how the distorted opinion can justify an action. I was thinking that my fiancee (I hope that is the right spelling for the woman side of deal) is hand rearing a tiny kitten because on Christmas Eve its mother was microwaved to death by some drunken scum at a house party.

I had to prove to myself that I was not the same species that was capable of such inhumane actions. So 140mph was being rapidly justified as I video gamed the A1M.

And the handsfree lights up. Bloody distraction.

The display says BDMLR SUE.

The words "Stand down" hit me like a sucker punch. Foot off the throttle and mixed feelings.

My first call out, a call off. The adrenaline flows away to leave me craving for a cigarette. Too late, New Year's resolution means that all Lambert & Butler and associated smoking paraphenalia has been removed from the car.

Sue, being Sue, explaines the situation and I see that of course, it is for the best. Our fat friend was never clobbered by a boat. It was covered in red dye, not blood, and it has now made its way back to that glorious crystal azure blue haven known as 'The North Sea'.

I turn the car around, feeling slightly stupid for getting so het up and driving like a lunatic. I replay the whole 30 minutes in my head to see how I could improve my response.

'Yes, you really should keep stuff in the car' 'No you don't have to drive like a moron, no one wants an accident and you aren't Starsky and Hutch' 'A stand down call is a good thing, one way or the other and Sue's voice is really quite sexy when you think about it!'

Baden Powell was right. Be Prepared.

But so was George Clooney in 'Dusk 'till Dawn'.

"Everybody be cool.

You, be cool"...

Graeme Shaw