December 13 2013 Latest news:
by Ramzy Alwakeel, Reporter
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Paramedic Jim McCluskey’s career has taken him to the scenes of explosions, suspected biological weapons attacks and serious road crashes – so it’s perhaps surprising that one of his most memorable call-outs involves a milk float.
Retiree Jim, 70, has just been honoured for his 26 years of service with the London Ambulance Service – a job that has seen him based all over the capital.
But a couple of incidents have been decidedly close to home.
“In the mid-1990s I attended my own son,” said Jim, 70.
“It was snowing. He was doing a milk round in Hornchurch and he slipped under the float. His leg went under the wheels.
“All the residents had helped lift the float off his leg, and the crates of milk were all on the pavement and in the road.”
Knowing his son’s injuries weren’t life-threatening helped Jim keep his head – but it was a different story when he was called to a serious road crash in Hall Lane, Upminster.
“I didn’t recognise the victim at first,” he said.
“It wasn’t until she grabbed hold of me that I realised she was my younger sister.
“The officer asked me for her name, and my mind went blank. I kept giving her maiden name.
“She was airlifted to the Royal London and she was on a ventilator for a week. She had plenty of broken bones.
“We squeezed her out of our vehicle like a tube of toothpaste.
“When you find out it’s someone you know, you freeze. Your mind, instead of being professional, goes a bit fuzzled.”
But the tables were turned last year when Jim, training for a triathlon, ran into difficulties at his local swimming pool.
“I went swimming in February and had a cardiac arrest,” he said.
“Luckily enough the guys at the pool had only been trained that morning in the use of a defibrillator, so they shocked me back.
“By the time I came round our crews had arrived. If it hadn’t been for them I certainly wouldn’t be here today.”
Working in London during the 1980s and 1990s, Jim dealt with his fair share of major incidents – including the City of London bombing in 1993.
“There was so much noise from the alarms going off, but there was also an eeriness because there was nobody around,” he said.
“We were driving over lumps of glass that had been shattered from all over the place. The rubble was about a foot deep.”
Despite the hairy moments, Jim said he had enjoyed his career.
“I’ve been absolutely blessed to work with such amazing people throughout my career,” he said. “They will always be close friends.”
He was handed a commemorative ambulance bell and certificate by London Ambulance Service Chairman Richard Hunt at a ceremony last week.
A landlady locked herself upstairs whilst “fearless” burglars smashed apart five fruit machines in her pub – this was the second raid in the area in half an hour.