Day shift: Four calls; one hoax, one false alarm, one assisted-only and one by car.
Stats: 1 Head injury; 1 Faint.
These hot summer days are biting into the day-job-quota as people pass out all over the place for the want of a drink of water or attention (or both). Then there’s piggie flu which, predictably, is making a mockery of the system by clogging it up with people who should really know better and who think they will die if they sneeze too hard. On top of all this, we still have leftover drunkards from the weekend nights and those who think a minor injury (if it happened at home they wouldn’t dream of dialling 999) in the workplace is somehow elevated to an emergency simply because it is the workplace – I call this backside-covering.
So the first call was a hoax; of course it was – the guy calls us from a phone box to say that he will jump in front of a train in the next 30 minutes. He is warning us of his impending suicide and giving us more than a generous slice of ORCON time to get to him and cuddle him before he settles his score with God. I am sent to ‘investigate’ and sit outside a row of anonymous red phone booths waiting for something to happen but nothing does. He isn’t there and the next report tells me that he is making his way to Piccadilly Circus to end it all, so I am tasked with standing by, along with a couple of PCSOs and the British Transport Police (BTP), at said station for the next hour until it becomes obvious to all, and at great expense to the tax payer, that he isn’t going to show.
My theory is that he is a forgetful person who left the phone box, with the intention of doing himself harm but was distracted by something along the route – possibly the tourist tat sold in one of the little shops in Piccadilly Circus. He then completely forgot his mission and was probably standing on a corner, eating an ice cream and enjoying the sun – thinking how wonderful life is, as he watched us all converge on the tube station as if some kind of emergency was about to happen. ‘Hmm…I wonder what that fuss is all about?’ he probably thought to himself, as he crunched through the one and only flake that was embedded in his over-priced soft whip ‘99’.
The other side of the spectrum for my next call and I am sitting with an elderly lady who had fallen off a low step and banged her head. The 84 year-old didn’t think it was an emergency and I had to agree. There were two cops with her and they were playing safe, which is fair enough. She had a few members of her family with her too and they were keen to get on with being tourists, so when the ambulance arrived, we checked her out thoroughly (she hadn’t been knocked out and had no serious medical conditions) and she went on her way, family in tow. It’s always refreshing to meet a patient who knows s/he isn’t dying and can recognise a minor injury a mile away. Her age meant that a proper check was useful but her generation is still a bit mystified when we worry about such trifling things.
A ‘collapse in doorway’ turned out to be nothing more than a sleeping vagrant. MOPS had panicked and assumed he was dead (obviously), ignoring the fact that he was wrapped up as if asleep, he was positioned (curled up) as if asleep and he was snoring in a doorway (as if asleep). But hey, don’t let me get all arrogant ‘cos we all know that it takes years and years of medical training to spot the difference between slumber and death.
Two PCSOs were chatting to him when I got there – the road was closed at the top, so I had to get out and walk – tsk! I asked him if he was ok and he said yes. ‘Do you need an ambulance?’, I ventured. ‘Erm, no’, he replied as if I had been let loose from a dodgy institution.
Now this poor sod had been trying to get a decent sleep – he is already on the street so can’t be getting a good kip during the busy, noisy nights. He puts his head down in a doorway of a weekend; not bothering anyone and not asking for attention, then ends up with PCSOs and a paramedic bugging him about his health and lifestyle. Not fair really. If you are a concerned MOP, please check for signs of life and the presence of a sleeping bag before you call us out.
I climbed so many stairs to get to a 21 year-old girl who had fainted in a theatre that I thought I might join her myself. She was on the floor, legs raised in traditional fashion, with her boyfriend guarding her. She works there and the heat just got to her, although she admitted having a history of such events and being a generally poorly person, so I walked her gently and slowly down Everest until we got to the car. Then I took her and her partner to hospital where, unfortunately, she was made to sit in the crowded, Swine-Flu infested waiting room until someone could get round to seeing her – probably 12 hours later.