Stephen Fox

Joined 1969

Felling Combined Cadet Division, Gateshead

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Black and white photograph of four young male Cadets in uniform kneeling around a briefcase that sits open on the ground.
Ambulance Cadets looking through a box of dressings, c.1960s Image courtesy of the Museum of the Order of St John
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We were asked if any Cadets would like to go on duty to Saltwell Park. And that time I wasn’t aware at all of its historic connection with St John. But in Saltwell Park there was a permanent First Aid post, again a little wooden building and what was being proposed was one of the adult members was going to go on duty in the park, so this would have been during the summer season, and quite simply to man this hut, to staff this hut, and did any Cadets want to go with him. And the arrangement was two Cadets at a time could go and spend a Saturday – I think it was Saturdays rather than Sundays, in the park, so I volunteered for some of these. And that turned out to be quite an interesting duty actually ‘cos you wouldn’t necessarily think that all that much would happen in the park when people are just there for an afternoon out on a sunny summer’s day. But there’s all kinds of minor bits and pieces go on, but there was one day when a little boy came into the First Aid post with his gran and they’d been playing over by the swings and slides and things and he’d walked in front of the swings and basically one of the swings had hit him in the face, right in the nose and mouth area. I can’t remember if the swing had somebody on it or if it was just the swing seat, if somebody had swung an empty swing and it had come forward and hit him in the face. But whichever way it had given him quite a whack in the face, nose was bloody, big fat lip, blood everywhere, he’d probably bitten his lip as well I think as part of this. Anyway he was in a bit of a mess, so got him sat down, then we got him sorted out, the nose bleed stopped before too much longer and, of course, he was in tears and all upset and everything else as well. So took a few minutes but we got him settled down, got him cleaned up, nose bleed stopped, he was looking better, he was, um, everything was back under control again. And then all of a sudden his grandmother, who’d been there the whole time, sat herself down and went deathly white and passed out and started to slide down the seat. And we revived her and she promptly vomited and all of a sudden the little lad was no longer the patient, well he was but he was no longer patient number one. His grandmother had taken over and essentially what had happened was she’d gone into shock basically. Her husband was there as well but hadn’t been with them, he appeared later on at the First Aid post, so I can’t remember, there might have been another child as well, maybe they’d separated and gone their separate ways. But anyway he did turn up, and I think he gave an explanation along the lines of, oh right, she’s not very good with blood and things so I’m not surprised that this has happened. But back then we didn’t have access to things like blood pressure kits and that sort of stuff, so we couldn’t check her blood pressure or anything. But she wasn’t really getting any better, she was coming round and then she was passing out again and she was coming round and then she was passing out. So in the end we thought she was going to have to go up to the hospital and just spend a bit of time with them and get stabilised and sorted out again. So it ended up that her husband, the lad’s granddad, got permission from the park staff to drive his car into the park down to the where the First Aid post was, so that he could pick her up and drive up to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, so that was what happened there. So what looked like a moderate injury with this little kid to begin with, ended up – we probably had them in the First Aid post for about an hour I would think, it was quite a long episode that one.

Excerpt courtesy of Stephen Fox