Felt pretty upset last night because we saw the most horrendous accident on the M1 driving back from BiCon. Alexa, Simon and I had stopped at the Newport Pagnell services to get some water and ice lollies, and we were sitting on the grass by the side of the motorway. I'd bought a copy of The Observer and was leafing through it idly when someone exclaimed "Shit!" very loudly. I looked up, and there was a large cloud of grey dust on the northbound carriageway. I immediately went for my phone to call 999, so I missed seeing the worst of the accident itself.
Basically, a white Transit-type van in the nearside lane overturned onto its roof just outside the services. It travelled on its roof for maybe 50 yards (I'm not good at estimating distances, but it was about 5 or 6 car-lengths), then somehow righted itself and crashed into the barrier at the edge of the road. The van was partly on the hard shoulder and partly occupying the first lane - the only reason that no one had crashed into it, causing a pile-up was that while travelling on its roof it had barely slowed down. Calling the police was my first reaction, and I described the accident quite calmly to the operator, stating the exact location, the type of vehicle involved and the fact an ambulance was needed as well as police. As I gave my name and address at the end of the car, a police car arrived. They then tried to put me through to an ambulance operator, but had to try multiple numbers before I could get through. The ambulance operator said that they had received several calls but all giving different locations for the accident - how stupid are people? *sigh*
A fire engine turned up, then another one, from the other direction. We realised that the driver of the van had gone through the windscreen. At first we'd thought maybe he wasn't wearing a belt, but when I went right down to the edge of the grass I thought that the seatbelt was still in place and it was his seat that had come loose. I have no idea whether he was dead or just very badly injured - the crowd of spectators were making no attempt to do first aid. It would have been nice for someone to have held his hand while he died :( We waited until the ambulance turned up, as there wasn't anything else we could do, and I felt responsible to see it through. Fucking idiot morons driving on the southbound carriageway slowed down to see the carnage, then sped up to 80 or 90 miles an hour to say "Someone's dead, and it's not me". God almighty - it will be if you behave like that!
Anyway, we got very delayed by that, and then there was a fair amount of traffic in London - we had to drive diagonally across it from Wood Green to New Malden. By the time we got near home we'd been in the car for 5 hours - so we went out for Chinese in the usual place and came home. Half-caught up with LJ, and went to bed.
I wonder why it is that I have such a calm response to major accidents when I am so panicky about minor injuries to myself? It helped that it was my second 999 call in a few months, plus there was a fire down the road that was big enough to need assistance, but the fire engines arrived just as I started to call them. (Although it was 4am, all three of us were awake because it was simply too hot to sleep, and obviously someone else had been up). Some of it is training, I think - I did a lot of first aid and lifesaving and emergency response stuff in Brownies and Guides, and later in adult leaders' training - and having it all thought through already stops you going into panic. I wonder if having chronic anxiety is actually a help in emergency situations? Because I worry about absolutely everything, I think through what I'd do if x, y or z goes wrong - so I have it there? Hmm.