Ambulance stories (25)

Nonsensical emergencies

Many of the 999 calls received in Ambulance Control are not worthy of a response by an emergency ambulance. However, this is not the fault of the operators taking these calls necessarily, as the callers can be very good liars, or have the talent of making a little sound like rather a lot. This does not happen so much now, as protocols have changed dramatically; however, thirty years ago, things were very different. These are just some of the countless calls that I attended, that should never has passed through the system. Please remember, that however crazy it may seem, these are genuine calls.

The fingernail faint

One evening, we were called to a nearby flat, with the job given as; ‘male fainted and bleeding’. As we arrived, we were met by a very distressed young lady, who showed us upstairs to her room. Her boyfriend had come round, to watch a horror film on the TV. This film had agitated him, and made him bite his fingernails, which on one particular finger, he had bitten until a small spot of blood appeared at the fingertip. The sight of this blood had made him pass out , causing his panicky partner to call for an emergency ambulance. As usual, I kept my temper, and behaved with utmost professionalism. Neither of them had any idea of their stupidity, or their inappropriate use of the 999 system. If it had happened more recently, I suspect that they would have been watching ‘The Jeremy Kyle Show’. I asked if they felt that we should take the young man to hospital, to have his finger checked. They looked at each other for a while, both nodded, and the young lady said ‘I think we had better go’. We duly conveyed them to the local A & E Department, and handed over to the sister in charge. She gave them both short shrift, and literally ordered them out of the department. They were walking home before I had even had the chance to register his details.

The escaping turd

One dark and rainy night, we were sent to an address in Notting Hill, West London. We were told that an elderly male was; ‘in distress with a bowel problem’. We were let into the flat by the caller, a man aged about 70, who looked as if he had not seen soap and water since the abdication of Edward VIII. His flat was in a similar state of cleanliness and untidiness, and the clutter had to be seen to be believed. I asked him what was wrong, and why had he called 999. His reply lives with me to this day. ‘Well I shit myself earlier, I know I did, I felt it go, but I can’t seem to find the turd. I have looked in my pants, and it’s not there, so I think I must have a bowel problem.’ I kept a straight face. I had to assume he might have mental health problems, after all. I offered to take him to hospital, or get his GP to come out and see him. He replied, ‘I think you had better take me, I usually go to St. Mary’s, and I must have something wrong down there.’ He got his coat and keys, and walked to the ambulance unaided. As I made him comfortable on the side of the vehicle, my colleague drew my attention to the rear step. There was the elusive turd, lying proudly on the rubber covered tread. It had fallen out of his trouser leg, as he walked up the two steps into the back. I still took him to hospital, mine not to reason why.

The paper hoarder

We are called to a small basement flat in the Ladbroke Grove area of West London. The job is described as; ‘male with ear problem, no further details.’ An agitated male, who looked to be in his late 50’s, let us in, telling us, ‘be careful, don’t knock anything over.’ The interior of the tiny flat had to be seen to be believed. There were piles of neatly stacked newspapers everywhere, forming internal walls, and lining every passageway and room. They stretched from floor to ceiling in every square inch of the place, a testament to many years of obsessive collecting and stacking. A large Old English Sheepdog then appeared, with an overgrown, matted coat. It was barking constantly, and very loudly, to the extent that we could not have a conversation with the caller. Standing in a gap of no more than 18 inches across, in single file, with this crazily barking dog, was like a scene from a surrealist painting, or a Monty Python sketch. I asked him to put the dog away, or to stop it barking at least, so we could have some sort of discussion. ‘But that’s why I called’, the man said. ‘My dog is deaf, and will not stop barking because he can’t hear it, and I need you to do something about it.’ I carried on the conversation outside the flat. It was a very short one.

So, just three examples of the ‘other side’ of life in the London Ambulance Service. There are many more, and I may well write about them, in another post.


26 thoughts on “Ambulance stories (25)

  1. When I read the police report from the neighboring small town I often read unreal reasons people call the police. I guess the same kind of people must trick the police dispatchers too. “Raccoon in road., ” for instance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Got a few stories I could tell Pete, escaped snake, overdose of lemonade (500ml), to name a few those were the days when someone asked for an ambulance they got one with very few questions being asked.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes indeed, Bobby. I was once called out to look at a sick pet iguana. When I got there, they told me the RSPCA wouldn’t come out. We got the job as ‘Male overheating’.
      Cheers, Pete.


  3. (1) I haven’t the faintest idea why a tiny bit of blood would cause someone to pass out.
    (2) Better an elusive napping turd lol than an aggressive snapping turtle.
    (3) There are hearing aids for dogs. But maybe at the time of the incident you describe, such aids were unheard of.

    Liked by 1 person

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