After the Christmas rush, this week has been very quiet. Quiet, by the way, is a forbidden word in Nee Naw Control, because as soon as someone says it, something kicks off and all hell breaks loose. So there I was, feet on the desk, immersed in a leftover copy of Chat magazine (the no reading rule long forgotten), gently snoozing in my reclining chair, and someone must have said that word, because in an instant, the screen above our heads went from “10 call takers free; no calls waiting” to “No call takers free, 21 calls waiting”.
Uh oh. My first thought was: “BOMB!!” (even though on July 7th the increase in call rate wasn’t that sudden and I could count the number of calls about each bomb on my fingers). As the calls were answered, every single person had Angel Islington on their screens, and all the callers were reporting different aspects of the same incident:
“A man has been hit by a bus”
“The bus has hit Sainsbury’s!”
“There’s two taxis smashed up and pedestrians lying in the road everywhere”.
Piecing the bits together, we found what had happened was this — the bus had gone out of control ploughing into two taxis, two shops and umpteen pedestrians.
In the next two minutes, we received forty-three calls on the incident, which is the most I have ever seen. There must have been people standing next to each other with their mobile phones out ringing the ambulance.
Prior to this incident, the most calls I’ve ever noted about one thing was a horrible incident when an old lady was hit by a bus and dragged for a quarter of a mile under the wheels of a car — the car driver didn’t even notice because the lady was already on the ground when he hit her. Everyone down the route dialled 999, reporting the incident at its various stages. I got two calls out of the twenty; the first reported an elderly lady hit by a bus, the last a woman horribly injured under the wheels of a car. “I don’t know how old she is” said the caller “most of her face is missing”. Anyway…
Half the ambulance service was dispatched to Islington, so anyone who wanted an ambulance round those parts for the rest of the day had a bit of a wait, but fortunately no-one died in the incident. At least it woke us all up.