As ambos we were always trying to look at the funny side of life and often played practical jokes on each other. In some ways this was a great way to release the tension and stress that is associated with the job.
A humorous event occurred one night shift when one of the rebellious ambos at the Pitt St ambulance station thought it would be a laugh if they drove up the notorious Karangahape road and picked up a prostitute. The idea was to bring her back to the station to surprise the station officer whose birthday it was.
The trick backfired however when the girl they chose turned out to be an undercover Police officer! She didn’t see the funny side and reported them to the Ambulance management! They received some stern counselling but were let off without too much fuss.
When I first joined the service it became a running joke to pull all the linen out of the cupboards of another PTO’s vehicle while they were in the hospital picking up a patient. They would arrive back in the ambulance bay with their patient only to be greeted by an ambulance messily strewn with linen. The trouble was they always retaliated.
Another joke was to switch off the electrical isolation switch under the drivers seat and turn on everything such as lights, siren, wipers, heater etc. When the unsuspecting driver turned the isolation switch back on he got a mighty and noisy surprise. Needless to say this trick only worked once on the new staff.
Sometimes we would have a 50ml syringe full of water beside the driver’s door. The ambulances at the hospital ambulance loding bay were all parked parallel to each other, so as you were pulling out you would wind down your window and motion for the ambo in the vehicle next to you to wind theirs down because you wanted to speak with them. Instead of conversation though he would get 50mls of water squirted at him/her before the offenders co-worker made a fast getaway.
Another prank that backfired happened before I joined. There was a certain female ambulance officer that was well renown for using very colourful (sic) language while working with the male ambos.
As the ledgend goes, someone decided it would be an entertaining thing to tape the transmit button down on her portable radio, a device which wass located behind the drivers seat of every ambulance. Not only did this jam the channel open so no one could talk over it, but for the next hour the control room and everyone else heard in graphic details exactly what she really thought of them!
On one of my last shifts at one of the Metropolitan stations, I arrived about twenty- five minutes before my shift started and jumped into the shower to freshen up. When I stepped out of the bathroom my uniform and clothes were missing!! The buggers I was working with had hidden them.
Next thing the station alarm went off and they were calling out my vehicle for a priority one job! I suspected skulduggery and sure enough one of the other on-duty ambo’s had hidden my clothes and rang up the control room telling them to give me a fake job to make me panic. Admittedly they had me going for just a minute!
With over 200 staff working in the job, there were bound to be personality clashes amongst the crews. I knew of particular staff members, who if they were rostered on with certain people, they would simply call in sick so they didnt have to put up with them.
One ambo that ended up having some psyche problems and was eventually dismissed, was boycotted by everyone at his station and had to be moved to another station so people would work with him.
I only ever had an altercation with one other ambo in my career. I was fairly religious at the time and this chap had comparatively loose morals. I was speaking to one of the female control room operators whom I didn’t realise was actually going out with him at the time and in my ignorance I told her what I thought of his immoral stance, which she duly passed onto him.
Next time I saw him he naturally hassled me about this comment and generally gave me a really hard time. I figured that if I was ever to work with him in the future, which was highly likely, I had to be at least on speaking terms, so I simply, genuinely apologised for what I had said and he never mentioned it again. In fact I got on quite well with him after that.