Michael Lambell

Joined 1958

Torquay Ambulance Cadet Division, Devon

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A black and white photograph showing four young St John Ambulance Cadets standing in front of an old ambulance. The Cadets are wearing berets on their heads, grey shirts, stripey ties, and a white haversack across their bodies. Their dark grey trousers are belted at the waist with a black belt and silver clasp. The Cadet second from left, holds a small trophy close to his body with both hands.
Michael Lambell (second from left) and fellow Ambulance Cadets with the Inspection Cup presented to them for placing first at a Devon County inspection, 1963 Image courtesy of Michael Lambell
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I used to as a Cadet undertake an awful lot of First Aid duties. One of the main things where I did thousands of hours as a Cadet, was on Torre Abbey Sands, which is the main beach in Torquay, where we had a First Aid hut, yes? And we used to have the people come off the beach with all sorts of ailments, injuries, blisters, cuts, you know. And I suppose that’s where I started really putting some basic First Aid skills into being and helping treat them in the First Aid hut, along with the adults. And we were allowed to do it in those days.

No, I think it was quite a range. I suppose on the First Aid beach duties, it was a lot of cuts and glass and that. But no, some of – a lot of the other duties. You would be treating people that had – like at the football, people become unwell, possibly through heart problems. You get – we used to go to donkey derbies and other things, where people have fallen off donkeys and horses and, you know, got possible sprains, strains and fractures. So even as a Cadet, I experienced a lot of interesting injuries. And if you like, what was – it will be unheard of today. But at the age of fifteen, so just gone on a bit but still as a Cadet, I said to you that our Superintendent and the Divisional Officer were ambulance drivers, personnel. They would allow a St John Ambulance Cadet at the age of fifteen, to go and ride in the back of the ambulance to emergency incidents. And I got – and probably you think at fifteen years old? And dare I say at that stage, and I got called to accidents, but I remember going once to a house, sitting in the back of the ambulance and they were both in the front driving along. We got there and there was an elderly gentleman that had collapsed, but he wasn’t breathing. And you know, he was treated but we took him to hospital. And I was in the back of the ambulance, I was fifteen years old. And when we got to the hospital, he was certified dead before you even get him out the ambulance. And then as a fifteen year old, we’d take them out to the mortuary and help them there. So as you say, it wouldn’t be heard of today but that’s the sort of things that – and that gave me a really good insight to, you know, the emergency service work. And really, enjoy is the wrong word, but really found it motivating for me.

Excerpt courtesy of Michael Lambell