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Paul Strickland
Paul Strickland

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Recently I watched a programme called Ambulance. Following the daily life of the London Ambulance Service, it's not something I'd ever choose to watch myself. But watching it proved to be such a tonic for these fractured times.

The supply of universal healthcare is taken for granted here and is underappreciated. But there was one case in Ambulance that exemplified the compassionate ideal of such a system. In this example, the emergency services were called to a building site where a man has stopped breathing. To make the situation more difficult he was on a higher floor that was difficult to access, and getting him to hospital was not straightforward. Because there are various specialised roles in the service, as many as eight different teams of people attended the scene. At the same time new calls were coming in and each of those were having to be prioritised according to the patients' needs. Unfortunately, despite the efforts of all involved, the man at the building site died.

The story being told was just one of many that took place that day, and in many ways the formula of Ambulance was the same as so many others like it. But what struck me was this idea: eight teams of people were sent to the aid of one man who wasn't breathing. Nobody knew who he was, or his background or his prospects. The single aim of those people who went to his aid was to save the life of a stranger. They were unsuccessful in that case, but went on with the rest of their shift and repeated their efforts. They treated the injured ankle of a footballer, the drug-addled man in the street, the kind old lady at home. No questions were asked about whether they could pay, or decisions made about whether they deserved treatment.

In this world where the inequalities between the privileged and the exploited are growing larger, and the corruption used by the privileged is exposed, every example I see of common decency reminds me that there is still some hope out there. It should be nourished and treasured, whilst the poison of hatred and division should be starved of light and oxygen until it finally withers away into an unpleasant memory.

I'm publishing this as part of 100 Days To Offload. You can join in yourself by visiting

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