the things they carried***

in the six and a half years I’ve worked at the gimcrack we’ve had maybe 50 or so false fire alarms. today I was having lunch in the cafe across the road with the art therapist when we heard a fire alarm.

“that sounds like it’s coming from the gimcrack” said the AT.

“doubt it. I’ve just been reading up on ventriloquism. apparently the human ear is not very good at gauging where sound is coming from unless there are visual clues. so you just think it’s coming from the gimcrack because you expect it to be. it’s probably the backpacker hotel on the corner.”

we carry on eating and ignoring the alarm.

“would you call a conga line of patients a visual clue?” asked the AT

I glance up to see a gaggle of old ladies spilling out onto the footpath as three fire engines come hurtling down the road.

not only is it our alarm, there is an actual fire in the dementia unit and part of the building is being evacuated. Sixteen (count ’em) fireys are on site, some carrying patients down stairs into the garden while others grapple with the blaze which started in a dryer and has engulfed the laundry on that floor.

it’s fucking mayhem and my eyes start hurting immediately, not from the smoke but from the sight of twenty or so geriatric crazies who have DRESSED THEMSELVES and are now visible in BROAD DAYLIGHT. their various ensembles included two capes, one fez, a teenage mutant ninja turtles scarf, pink fluoro socks, tartan plus fours, a mohair cardigan with 80s shoulder pads and a “Save the Whales” t-shirt.

artwork by Gilles Barbier

several are carrying things, possibly because those items were close at hand when they got swept up by a 6 foot finely sculpted muscular a firey, or possibly because they couldn’t live without 1) a plastic bag full of tomato sauce sachets, 2) a pot plant, 3) an empty urine sample container, 4) a bible, 5) a golliwog, 6) a roll of toilet paper and 7) a fish slice.

we herd them all behind a fence into a secluded leafy part of the garden and let the experts do their job. the fire is extinguished, mess mopped up, laundry under lock and key and things are looking good until the chief says “lot of smoke residue still, bad for the lungs. you may have to close that ward until tomorrow, find other beds for them tonight”

there are no other beds. nursemyra has been filling all vacancies with respite patients because hey I’m going on holidays at the end of the week….. “if we have to take them home with us, I’ll take J & S because they’re both still continent” says traineenurse.

“if we have to take them home with us…….?!?!?” nursemyra nearly swoons but the fireys are already leaving so there’s no point. instead I send all available staff on a hunt for electric fans and we open every window and door, and create a gale up there to rival Katrina. three hours later a nifty little gadget that measures air quality tells us we can pack ’em back in.

I leave the gimcrack on time and unaccompanied by any incompetent sphincters. I do however find a fish slice in my handbag.

so how was your day?

fire related story

*** apologies to Tim O’Brien

Published in: on June 10, 2008 at 11:30 am  Comments (30)  

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30 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. the photo of the geriatric super-heros – as well as your description of your fashionable refugees – is about 80% dead-on-target for a recreational afternoon with my co-workers. At least your clients have an excuse…

  2. but do any of your guys a have teenage mutant ninja turtle’s scarf?

  3. Whahahahaha.

    My day? Full of incompetent sphincters, sadly.

    Aaah, Nurse M. You do gimcrack me up!

  4. My day (yesterday) was pretty dull right up until about ten minutes before the end when we were trying to load a 4000-pound rolled conveyor belt onto a trailer and despite our being extremely careful, the damn thing rolled right across and dropped to the warehouse floor and shook the whole building. That was fun.


  5. mine was about the same as yours except without the fire.

  6. You have to admire the one who grabbed the toilet roll. A real sense of priorities in a crisis.

  7. It seems to be catching – 2UE has had a similar problem!

  8. Believe it or not…I have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle knit cap that would go well with that scarf!
    (Sometimes I scare myself!)

  9. Your blog makes me want very badly to be very, very old.

  10. Hey, if we end up going to Boloña maybe we can stay at the hotel that has teenage ninja turtle bedcovers – I kid you not, got some photos somewhere…

    Glad you didn’t end up going home with any leaky people.

    the volunteer houses I stayed at in vietnam ONLY had superhero or cartoon character sheets. I slept with green teddy bears and babar the elephant for most of my trips 🙂

  11. I think you can put that down to ‘phew what a narrow escape!’ I can just see you shepherding a bunch of gerry’s around your home … not!!! 🙂

    Love the super hero photo, it is quite brilliant 😀

  12. And I thought I had a bad day because my office cut out providing green tea in the break room.

    Still, if I don’t get my caffeine and antioxidants I get very ill-tempered.

  13. Sorry, I’m very late, I’ve had a dreadful day – couldn’t find my socks and then the doorbell rang….

    [Is that a Stephen installation?]

  14. That could be my wardrobe you are describing.

  15. No, I wouldn’t use his work here. spiderman was a recurring theme for him, but used in a more political way. it’s interesting that this image features an extended limb, something else which Stephen utilised.

    I should have linked to the artist (I’ll do that now) but the site I found it on had just used it as an illustration and I had been unforgiveably lazy and didn’t make the effort to try and trace it.

    apologies to Gilles Barbier

  16. ooohh uncle keith – can we see photos?

  17. When your limbs can extend like that, you’ve earned the superhero name Mr. Fantastic. And that’s why he and the Invisible Woman have been married for so long.

  18. With all that mayhem & odd costume decision going on, I hope you checked that the same number of firemen came out as went in…

  19. Had to laugh at this simply because I understand exactly what would happen in a situation like this.
    As I always say, you just can’t make this shit up.
    God damn, you have an interesting job, messy sometimes but always interesting.
    Love the pics, too – btw

  20. Now I’ll have to write about the nursing home fire I was in the middle of.

  21. Sadly, not nearly as eventful as yours-

    I’m imagining one patient wearing all that you described, by the way, and I honestly may have a heart attack from laughing (is that possible? You’re the nurse here…)

  22. A POT plant?? I think I see a source to much of the confusion and forgetfulness at your place of employment!

  23. I know its wrong but I laughed my arse off at the description of what they were wearing and carrying…

    Anyone esle creeped out by that image of the nurses in gas masks.

  24. Gazsurf: I’ve been trying to comment on your blog for about 10 minutes now and i keep getting a message that I’m not signed in to wordpress 😦

    I was just going to say that’s a lovely photo of twinny but where’s the bikini shot?

    Alex: nurses are scary. never forget that.

  25. […] 11, 2008 by silverstar98121 Recently Nurse Myra wrote about a fire at Gimcrack Hospital, and it sounded like a comedy on the part of the patients. […]

  26. Bwuhahahaha now that was just what the doctor ordered. Ah nurse I like the way you view the world.

  27. My day was not as exciting as yours. You can always take me home with you 🙂

  28. All of them… I’m not sure about that.

  29. Lovely. Too funny. Thanks Nursemyra.

    Off to find my own “gaggle of old ladies”

    • Come on down under Don – I’ll set you up 😉

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