Working Life : Protecting the Christmas crowds

Published on: 26 Nov 2021

St John Ambulance’s regional clinical manager Dr David Turpin braves the Hull cold at the city’s Christmas lights switch-on 

Dr David

Thursday 18 November

This morning I’m working as a medical examiner at Hull Royal Infirmary (HRI). This involves scrutinising the case notes of patients who have died, to ensure that the care they received was appropriate and that an accurate cause of death is recorded on their death certificate.

It has been quite busy today, as my colleague has been off and I’ve had to speak to the coroner a few times.

Having left HRI, I’m on my way to the St John Ambulance hub in Hull to collect my kit for tonight’s event – the switching on of the city’s Christmas lights. To save time, I came in and checked the kit last weekend, although I still need to pick up my kit bag, a cardiac monitor/defibrillator and a drug bag. 

I arrive onsite in Hull city centre, around the same time as most of the other St John Ambulance volunteers. There are two nurses, a paramedic, several first aiders and a couple of cadets volunteering tonight. One of the volunteers has brought some chocolate cake, which always goes down well.

The event manager briefs us on the lights switch-on and how he wants the teams to be deployed across the city centre. I’ll be based at the mobile treatment centre, but may need to respond to any incident.

One of the homeless people from the city centre has come to our treatment centre. He is a little upset about the number of people around at a time when things are usually fairly quiet. One of our first aiders sits with him for a while, makes him a warm drink and gives him some cake and biscuits. He seems so grateful for the kindness – sometimes it is the smallest things that make the most difference to people. 

The lights themselves are finally  switched on via the balcony of Hull City Hall. Cue massive cheers all round, cut short by the thunder of a firework display.

Someone has limped up to a couple of first aiders having slipped on a kerb when they were watching the fireworks. The first aiders check – nothing’s broken and the person is easily treated with an ice pack, some paracetamol and advice to rest when they get home. 

Someone else has managed to graze their hand on a wall – a quick clean and a plaster and they are soon on their way. 

We are told we can stand down, so I collect my kit and return to the Hull hub. Everything is replaced in the store room ready for the next event and I can go home to warm up and have some food. 

On the way I reflect on how great these events are, with everyone smiling and wanting to have a good time, and how much we have missed them over the past 18 months or so. 

I particularly enjoyed this event as I didn’t have to open my kit bag or treat anything serious – which hopefully means people had a good time. Sometimes at events it feels as though my ‘doctor skills’ are not needed, but my presence does give the St John Ambulance first aiders the confidence to use the skills they have been taught, knowing they can ask for help.

• St John Ambulance, in conjunction with Citizen Aid and the National Counter Terrorism Security Office, has just launched Public Access Trauma (PAcT) First Aid Kits.