Tuesday, 13 February 2007

Ghosts in the wire

A few days of faints and minor injuries for me, with the odd severe DIB chucked in for good measure. I didn't do anything beyond first aid most of the time but I could hear a lot more going on over the radio, including a number of cardiac arrests and a few RTC's, many of which happened on the one and only day we got snow. I drove to work that morning at 5.30 to find that none of the roads had been treated. Not as much as a grain of sand on them! Needless to say the journey took twice as long and I made it in by the skin of my teeth.

One of the more interesting calls I received was to a school. The call description read 'child choking on tongue', so I took it seriously and sped off in the direction of the school. When I arrived the ambulance drove up behind me and the crew followed me into the school reception. We stood there for a few seconds while everyone, kids and staff, eyed us up with interest. Nobody knew why we were there.

My colleague asked one of the teachers where the choking child was and she looked at her in confusion. We explained that we had been called to a choking child at this school and I said jokingly, "unless one of the kids has a mobile phone on him", to which the teacher replied, "Well, yes they all have their phones".

I was dumbstruck (is that one word?).

It was kind of old fashioned of me to perhaps think that the children would not be allowed to bring their mobile phones to school. The fact that they have a mobile phone (aged 6 - 12) is shock enough.

Anyway, that's when it all started to jump into place. This child had used his (or her) mobile phone to call 999 to see the ambulance arrive at the school. Unfortunately for child X, his/her voice was recorded when he/she made that call and the number was logged so it can all be traced to him/her quite swiftly. Uh-oh.

We gave the head-teacher (is that one word?) the number and left him to dole out suitable punishment or report as appropriate. I found it all very amusing though and would love to have seen the little urchin getting brought before us to explain himself. Still, I was no angel myself when I was young so I understand the thrill he/she was seeking.

I got a ghost call from the Inland Revenue Office. I have gone to several of these calls before and they are quite strange. Our control receives a call via the 999 operator but there is nobody on the line and so it appears that the call was made but the person who made it hung up immediately. This prompts a 'please investigate' message when we receive it on the MDT. In these cases, as with the Taxman (that's one word surely), the number does not exist at the location given by BT's number referencing system.

I walked in and was asked what I wanted. A tax refund or to be left alone was my instinctive response but I didn't say it. Instead I asked if anyone had called an ambulance from this number and was told no. The usual. The security guy came down the stairs and asked for the number from which the 999 call had originated. I gave him it and he looked through the building's directory for it. It wasn't there. As usual.

Now I think the non-existence of these numbers is due to the 'ghosting' of them. British Telecom will keep a number unused for years - they don't necessarily re-allocate it. The number may have belonged to that particular building sometime in its past but now a short circuit or an internal wiring problem causes a call from a different number to trip over onto that number, thus it appears to have originated from the ghost number. You follow?

We still have to chase these things up because one day it will be someone up on the twelfth floor having a heart attack and nobody knows any better. If the number exists and is functioning at the location then we will do an 'area search', or the security guy will. If I did an area search of that building I would divert some of my attention to finding and 'losing' my tax files.

I gave a homeless person a lift back from hospital after he agreed to accompany his aggressive friend for the safety of the ambulance crew transporting him. I conveyed him back to his starting point South of the river after his friend was securely passed on to the hospital staff. During the 20 minute journey he started telling me of his travels. He stays in London during the Winter then he goes to Brighton for the Summer. He listed the places he had travelled to in his carefree (and including employment-free and tax-free) life. This guy had visited more of the UK than most of us will in a lifetime. I would cry but I'm too big for that nonsense.

Be safe.


ZebedeeZBD said...

'dumbstruck' (but 'struck dumb')
'head teacher' (but 'headmaster')

So: 2 out of 3, not bad!

Anonymous said...

in the us a headmaster is called a principal

Xf said...

Thanks for the grammar shake-up. This is proof that I don't think I am perfect! ;-)