Friday, 20 February 2009


Two photo's with one thing in common that really annoys me...can you see what it is?

Day shift: Four calls; one sent packing by police; the rest by ambulance.

Stats: 1 Chest pain; 1 Unwell adult; 1 DIB and 1 eTOH timewaster.

The only call I want to highlight is the last one of the shift. He is a 30 year-old Polish man who pretended to be unconscious in the middle of a very busy street in rush hour. People became concerned and I was called to the scene.

I knew he wasn’t unconscious because we have ways of determining this straight away but he was very good at acting the part and refused to open his eyes or communicate with me for a long time as I knelt beside him being reasonable.

I’d done all the obs I could and found that everything was normal, so I considered using Narcan to eliminate the possibility of a drugs overdose. There wasn’t a hint of an ambulance – no distant siren – so I told the guy what I intended to do if he continued to insist that he was unconscious. He reacted a little by moving his arm towards me and I thought he might be trying to communicate something but it was all a bit random and meant nothing to me.

I’ve seen conditions which mimic ‘unconsciousness’ in that the person is unable to move, speak or do anything of significance to prove they are aware but in every case there was always a way to communicate, even if that meant using eyelid signals. This guy, however, was unconvincing and there was a definite smell of Possum about him…as well as alcohol and stale cigarettes. If this had been a Friday or Saturday night, I would have concerned myself less about the possibility of making a mistake and misdiagnosing what I saw but in the middle of the day, on a crowded street, I couldn’t summon up a reasonable doubt in my head for his behaviour. He was faking it and I knew it.

I didn’t get any further forward with Narcan because using it on him would have been a negligent act – clinically I could no longer support any argument for it because he had reacted to what I’d told him and it was getting clearer by the second that he was staging this, so I tried to reason with him again.

I spent a long time kneeling on that pavement and a hundred or so people must have gone past – a few of them had asked if I needed any help and I politely declined their offers. I got as far as the middle of my second set of obs when he began to feign a seizure; it was a frank and disgraceful insult to anyone who has ever really had one. His limbs stretched and flailed and he made hard contact with my chest and arms several times as I struggled to keep him where he was. I think he was trying to escape by rolling away down the road.

I called Control on my phone as soon as I got a breather and requested an ETA for the ambulance. I also asked for urgent assistance with this man because he started to thrash around once again and this time I couldn’t hang on. The police were requested for me.

Asking for urgent police is something we do with great caution. We are all too busy to be wasting each other’s time and all of us should be able to keep ourselves safe up to a point but the man was getting out of control and his behaviour threatened me, passers-by and himself. I hadn’t yet ascertained whether he had a weapon or not, so I wasn’t prepared to let it go on any longer. Usually I will bear with it until a crew comes to help me out but this time I knew that an ambulance wasn’t coming – it was that time of the day.

A passing man asked if I was okay as he watched me getting bundled to the ground after yet another hit to the chest, this time with feet and I thanked him and said I was okay. I must have looked comically like someone who was in denial. I know I should probably have let go and left him to it but there is always that singular nagging voice telling you this might turn out to be a head injury or epilepsy or something real and that walking away would look really bad to the general public. So I knelt my ground with him until another man approached and identified himself as an off-duty policeman. Now, that was someone I could use to help me.

Between us we held the man still as he continued his pretence and I explained what was going on to the officer. His wife stood nearby with a bemused smile on her face – I think they were out for a lovely day in London town and she probably regretted marrying a copper. He was useful though – a bigger man than me and able to stay calm, as it should be with these things – there’s no point in getting all flustered about it.

Within five minutes the familiar low-growl siren of an armed police unit could be heard and as the car pulled up, the ‘patient’ suddenly came alive. He got himself up instantly. He had recognised that siren and it had scared the life out of him. Now he was cured.

Two cops ran from the vehicle and pulled him towards a wall. They had seen his recovery and they knew what he had been doing because everyone has seen this before. We have a small population of East European men who go around pretending to be unconscious or ill so that they can get a lift to hospital where they will steal alcohol gel and anything else they fancy – that is a fact and it is an embarrassment to every hard working person from that part of the world who lives here. Scotsmen used to have a bad image down here; alcoholic and violent, they would embarrass the rest of us with their behaviour. That doesn’t happen much these days and, in any case, that problem was home-grown – this one is imported.

The man pretended he had no memory of what had happened and stood on the street with the police around him (two more units had arrived). He was told in no uncertain terms that his behaviour and an assault on us was intolerable – they threatened to arrest him for being drunk and disorderly but we all know how much paperwork and time that will waste with the end result being very little or no real punishment, so he was given a long lecture and sent on his way.
I get punched or kicked routinely – a lot of us do, especially in the West End, so we don’t press charges. Instead we fill in a form and it gets recorded (if we even bother to do that). In any case, it’s not the ‘accidental’ clubbing I took from him while he danced on the ground that bothers me, it’s the fact that he knows he can do this and will probably get a free trip to hospital. I wouldn’t feel so bitter about it all if he worked, earned his drink, paid his taxes and contributed somehow to our now fragile and economically unstable little island. That would be nice. Living in the UK is like living in a lovely house you’ve worked hard to pay for and having the extended family over for a visit only to find that they stay permanently, eat you out of house and home and frequently abuse your hospitality. And it’s all okay because we are allowed to go over to their houses and do the same. Emigration looks more and more attractive to me these days.

A Duty Officer arrived as the dust settled, so much as I appreciated the effort, I had already dealt with the incident, with the help of the police.

I took myself off home late and prepared for another very early start. Maybe the next shift wouldn’t be quite so dramatic.

Be safe.


Katie said...

their's nothing wrong with those photo's....

I work in the observation area of a city centre A&E, and I agree time wasters are a major problem.

There are serious double standards in the system, if you had kicked that guy in the chest for no other reason than to be obnoxious, you would have been in seriously deep trouble.

No matter how much form filling goes on, these problems will not be solved until the government backs us up with heavy duty legislation and the punishments to match.

Viking83 said...

I was looking for bad driving, dangerous driving, stupid driving, or something similar. My better half, elaine, immediately saw what annoys you. I think its good people get annoyed by that, as the english language is being destroyed enough with 'dis, dat and dose' and 'innit' slipping more and more into common usage. Hope tomorrow is better

Xf said...


Nice bit of sarcasm there about the photo's!

And I agree...I'm fed up being treated like a racist/whateverist just because I want what every decent tax-paying person, regardless of their origins, wants...a fair legal system with strict and effective punishment and for people like this to be shipped off home if they cannot contribute.

MarkUK said...

As a founder member of the AAAA (Association for the Abolition of the Aberrant Apostrophe, started many years ago by Keith Waterhouse when he wrote for the Mirror) I saw the one on the van straight away. the other had to wait until I'd enlarged it.

Both my daughters (should that be daughter's or daughters') have also turned out to be grammar Nazis.

It's nice when you can bring them up properly!

Another pet hate of mine is the "should of" and similar. I knew better (and about apostrophes) in what is now called Year 5.

Whilst we're on about pet hates, your last paragraph says it. It's not racist; it's simply common sense. No, I'm not willing to accept that it is simply "cultural differences". We have plenty of Poles at work. Some are idle and/or thick. Some are industrious and/or intelligent - just like the rest of the people on the shop floor, in fact.

Elaine said...

Once again the rogue apostrophe.

Drives me mad too.

Cath said...

We have the opposite problem here; we don't have the ' very much, but now it's creeping into the language under the influence of english. Which, by the way, is now called our second native language.

Are you guys really spending so much of your time on the time wasters, or is it just because they make you mad, that you write about them (no offence, really)? It's a shame you have to take all this abuse, I think.

Liz said...

I worked next door to a place which arranged parties and entertainments. According to the enormous sign above their unit, they did "casino's" and "its a knockout" among other things.

Thanks for writing this blog. As someone who works in your patch, I boggle at what you have to deal with every day.

Xf said...


Where is 'here'?

Yes, unfortunately, we do have a major problem with these people. There will be at least one call per day in my area alone from someone wasting time and tax money.

BUT I have to admit that I have become more and more frustrated by it all - the way this whole country is falling down on itself has made me very depressed about things I think, just like it has with lots of people.

Little Miss Ileostomy said...

I had to hold the screen about 2 cms away from my face and squint before I could see what was annoying you. That is old age I fear.

And I hope I didn't walk past you on Southampton Row on Saturday. I was trying to stay upright and get to Euston (it was a struggle!).


Pedantic Pedro said...

Ungrammatical gobbledegook is almost as bad as unwarranted apostrophes! Yes, I'm talking about the second part of your photo caption :)

Anonymous said...

I often disagree with some of the methods you describe the police doing (perhaps I'm a liberal namby-panby), but it sounds like they did the right thing here - though they should've booked him. Okay - nothing will happen this time, but if he keeps doing it, and he keeps getting arrested, maybe he'll realise what a fool he is being.

I'm not in favour of short-cutting the law, but if he can waste your time, maybe the police can waste his.

What would be your solution?

Xf said...


We all want the law to be respected but it is a fool's mission to continue with the letter of it while some people simply ignore it at our cost.

We need a better justice system. Personally, I would temporarily suspend the human rights of a person who violates those of another.

In this case arresting him would have been wasteful and the police are aware of that. If he repeats, he will be arrested.

Xf said...


Bang to rights! I was sure I'd put a 'you' in there! :-) Sorted now...

Xf said...


You probably did walk past me, although there were two cars on...I was in the astra.

Paula said...

It's those apostrophes isn't it!!(In the photos I mean)- hope that's good English, lol

Anonymous said...

Is it someone using their camera phone while they are driving?

Erzanmine said...

Must have - a large pot of Tippex for those apostrophes!

Xf said...


Yeah, very funny. I wondered how long it would take before someone brought that up.

In fact, isn't because I NEVER use my phone when driving - I park up. Neither do I drink and drive (in case you wondered).

Anonymous said...

I thought that the funny plurals trick (plural's) was a tipical Dunglish trait, a mistake made by Dutch people writing English. In Dutch that kind of plural is "legal" and sometimes they use it happily in other languages.
I'm surprised to see it in England