Eleven emergency calls and one running call; two hoaxes, one no trace and eight by ambulance.
Tonight took me into April fool’s day and the number of hoax calls suddenly rose as a result. I think if people want to have a laugh they should paint fake zebra crossings on motorways instead of calling the emergency services for nothing.
A RTC to start and a 48 year-old man whose bicycle argued with a moped ended up with a broken arm for his trouble. It was a long run to the scene and by the time I got there, he was already being dealt with by a crew who’d pulled up ahead of me.
The same applied to the 75 year-old woman who fainted in a café; she was being cared for by the crew and the MRU that had been assigned – I was surplus to requirements.
During a stint of stand-by on Charing Cross Road, I was approached by a man who claimed that smoke was coming out of a callbox. I couldn’t see anything obvious at first but when I cautiously opened the door, there was a thick mist of acrid vapour inside – it smelled like sulphur. There was nothing on the floor of the box but a small lump of material caught my eye; it was a brownish cake of something with white blemishes on it and I saw that it had been lit and left smouldering on the phonebook shelf. My head was beginning to spin a bit as I inhaled the product of this little lump of stuff and the shape and look of it helped me to recognise it as Hash but I couldn't be sure it wasn't something else - perhaps more potent or even a Class A drug.
I called this in to my Control and requested the police because someone had to remove it and as I waited outside the box, I heard the sirens of a different emergency service. Someone had called the LFB out – this was going to be embarrassing and I hoped nobody had gone as far as activating the HART unit.
The firemen took it in turns to pop their heads into the callbox and look at the offending item, each one of them inhaling whatever those fumes were. I cautioned them to consider what it was they might be breathing in but they didn’t seem too worried. They propped the door ajar using a nearby chair from a pub and the gases leaked into the air – now everyone walking past was sharing the experience.
It took another fifteen minutes before I saw a police car and they were on their way to a different call but I flagged them down and asked if they could take the material away. The LFB had long since gone and luckily, nobody else turned up to increase the excitement of the person who’d called them out in the first place. The police removed the article for disposal and I went back on stand-by.
A lucky escape for a 25 year-old moped-driving Sushi delivery man when he collided with a car at a junction. It all took place at a fairly low speed and his injuries were confined to his face – the bit he’d landed on. He had a bloodied nose and mouth but hadn’t been knocked out. His rear storage box was empty, despite the fact that he said there was food in it, so I guess he was mistaken, or it had been swiped…or maybe it was so fresh that it walked, slid or crawled off on its own.
Off to Soho next for a 35 year-old man who was ‘fitting’ but who was, as we discovered on arrival with the crew, doing nothing of the kind. He’d been mugged and allegedly assaulted and was sitting on the floor of a book shop. There was nothing critical about his condition, so the crew took him away for safety.
Then a strange call to the north, quite a distance out, for a male who’d been electrocuted. Well, the description was vague at best and I had to call Control for some clarification. The information was updated as I travelled to the scene and it became clear that all was not well with this job. Apparently, three men with dogs had turned up at someone door, in a nice neighbourhood, and claimed that one of them had received an electric shock from a nearby telephone pole. These days, almost everybody (and their dog) has a mobile phone, so knocking on doors and pleading for someone to call an ambulance is an unlikely event, so this sounded like a distraction con. The idea is to distract the resident while gaining entry to rob the house. It may all have been innocent and genuine but I doubt it because when I arrived, the men had taken off (the resident had been advised to stay in and keep his door shut) and across the road, a telephone cable had been deliberately cut and left hanging off the pole – live (you get about 50 - 60 volts from these wires). One of them had to have climbed the pole to do this. Or they had very agile dogs.
The police were on scene with their own dogs but I doubt they’ll catch the men, who’ll probably try this scam somewhere else.
Off-duty cops can misbehave when drinking too. I was flagged down when I arrived on scene for a 26 year-old female ‘collapsed, drunk, ? fitting’ by a man with a Warrant card. At first I thought he’d been called to deal with this but it turned out that he and his four friends were all police officers. His female colleague on the ground was behaving just as badly as any other young drunken woman I’ve attended. Still, they deserve a night out as well as anyone else, I guess.
She recovered in the ambulance after initially rolling about on the ground, hyperventilating and generally being silly. She apologised and told us how ashamed she was. I took her colleague to Marble Arch so that he could get a night bus home because he had been inconvenienced by this little drama too – he’d missed the last train.
A 30 year-old man ‘unconscious in the street’ was my next patient – well, he would have been if he’d existed. I arrived and found nobody lying around. The crew and I did an area search and still nothing. All I saw was a minor scuffle between a Polish bin man and a Russian drunkard. The Pole was trying to do his job and the Russian kept taking bags out of his little cart, tearing them open and rooting around inside them for alcohol dregs. A little fight ensued and I watched it for a minute or so until it became nothing more than angry Russian words. The Polish man decided to leave him to it, which I think was a wise choice.
Two gay men fought each other on Oxford Street. One of them collapsed with a facial injury and the other dialled 999 in a panic thinking he’d just killed his byfriend, thus '28 year-old male, unconscious after assault'. I was asked to stay away from this until the police arrived but I saw them driving up the road and joined them on scene. The standing man was crying and complaining – the man on the ground was conscious and bleeding. It was a lover’s tiff.
The first of many hoaxes after midnight originated in and around Leicester Square. I was called to one of them as I sat there. Just before I got the call, an old homeless man approached me.
‘Someone’s been stabbed up there’. He said, pointing to Leicester Square.
‘Right’, I said, not believing him, ‘someone will be dealing with it soon.’
People don’t calmly walk up to declare that someone has been stabbed. They run to you, shout and wave frantically.
A few minutes later, as I was leaving the area, I got a call to attend a stabbing twenty yards behind me. It made no sense. I was on top of it and there was no sign of any commotion at all. People were waiting for a bus at the location. Not even in London do we care more about the timing of our night bus than the fate of a potentially fatally wounded human being on the pavement. Not yet, anyway.
I went to where the alleged victim was and found nothing but confused police officers. I mentioned the fact that a man had told me about this before the call was made – making him the prime suspect for the hoax – and alarm bells went off with them. They all knew who I was talking about and he’d allegedly been involved in hoaxes in the past but never been convicted. The man was still hanging around the area, so the police went to speak to him – they suspected he’d been responsible for a number of similar calls in the area tonight. Trouble was, they couldn’t prove it. They questioned him, searched him and warned him to leave.
‘Is it because I’m coloured?’ He said with a dead-pan expression.
The crew were on scene and dealing with a 74 year-old female with DIB when I arrived, so I went straight to my next call for a 41 year-old female who’d collapsed and was semi-conscious at a bus stop. She thought she might be pregnant and her partner, who was with her when she almost fainted after getting off the bus, couldn’t be sure if she was or wasn’t either. She was a bit pale and shaky but hadn’t been drinking or taking drugs. I’m guessing she’s probably pregnant. I don’t know if that’s a cause of celebration or not for her but off she went to hospital for a check-up.
I wanted no more to do with the 1st of April after tonight, so I headed home and slept through it. A friend of mine managed to catch me out later on but I thought the rule was that nothing was valid after noon, or was that just made up by people who didn’t like practical jokes?