There’s been a lot of talk recently about some of the weird and wonderful calls we receive in the control room, so following on from Medic Admins experience on his visit to Control, thought I’d try to recall some to make up my top ten….
1 – “What’s the number for 111?”
To ease us in, an old favourite and one I’d bet all UK based Ambo Controllers have had. They always seem so surprised by the answer too!
2 – “I need an ambulance! I was trying to open a tin with a knife and was holding the tin steady between my legs. There’s blood everywhere….”
This was actually a genuine call for a daft reason, as opposed to a straight forward daft call. The poor chap definitely needed an ambulance. But oh dear God! Why would you do that??
3 – “I’ve had a sore throat since Monday and now it really hurts. I didn’t want to bother the Doctor with it as I know how busy they are..”
How very thoughtful! It’s 2am on a Saturday night so of course, we’re not busy at all…
And no, they didn’t get an ambulance. They did get a fair amount of the ‘mute button’ though.
4 – “I’ve been running through a field and and I’m worried an insect may have bitten me..” Any bite marks? “No”. Any symptoms? “No”.
So why the hell are you calling an ambulance? Still baffled by that one.
5 – “Stop asking stupid f***ing questions and just send a f***ing ambulance!”
Another favourite that will have been heard up and down the control rooms of all services, the world across. (Replace ambulance with the relevant vehicle) This belief that we magically know where they are. And there’s also a good chance that we don’t know the alleyway that’s just past that nice pub near the bakery that just opened up…
6 – “My Dear, the only thing that goes under my tongue is my girlfriend…..”
This was another genuine call and from one of my all time favourite patients. He was in his upper 80’s and the above was in response to my asking him whether he had a GTN spray for angina. He’d actually called in because he’d fallen. It was only by chance he mentioned the nagging indigestion that set me off down a different path. He was, in fact, in the middle of having a heart attack and yet was still able to joke. He certainly stopped me in my tracks though, much to his absolute delight.
7 – “Yeah, I got in a fight like a week ago and my hand really hurts. I haven’t had time to go to doctor cos I’ve been too busy watching the footie, but I wannit sorted now….”
This delightful ‘lady’ was most put out when it was politely but firmly suggested that she make her own way to the ED as she “‘ain’t got no money, ‘ave I!”, and “‘ain’t got no time to sit around in some waiting room”, as well as being deeply concerned as to “Who’s gonna bring me back home then?!”
Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn…
8 – “Look! I’ve already told you! I’ve cut my finger and I’m bleeding everywhere! Where is the ambulance?!”
This was a daft call for all the wrong reasons. The patient was highly agitated and the above is the polite version of what he actually said. He was also adamant that he’d cut just the top of his finger, yet had lost about 2 litres of blood which didn’t make any sense at all. I could see that we were already running on it as there was a crew nearby and the original coding had gone in as “bleeding.”
I slapped an “Approach with caution” marker on it for the crew, due to his agitation, while I attempted to get to the bottom of it. Thank God we were running and he’d said “bleeding” before “finger”, hence the prelim code.
The crew got there while I was still talking to him and quickly reported back. He’d actually been stabbed and was indeed bleeding out. He didn’t want to tell us as he didn’t want the Police involved. That reluctance very nearly cost him his life.
9 – “I’ve had cocaine and now I can’t sleep! I need sedatives…”
Firstly, no shit Sherlock! I guess you didn’t read the instruction leaflet that came with the cocaine.
The one that listed the possible side effects. Oh, hang on… Secondly, which part of accident or emergency does “can’t sleep due to inhaling a line of class A drugs” actually fall under? Please do remind me. And lastly, it’s an ambulance, not a mobile bloody pharmacy to provide you with your downers!
While I’m on that subject by the way, nor is it a GP’s surgery. So no! I’m not going to just “send one of them Paramedics in a car round”. Certain nursing homes, please take note of that last bit!
10 – This wasn’t actually one of my calls. This was actually something I saw on a well known panel show, but it perfectly illustrates the attitude that seems to prevail these days. The story in question related to an air ambulance arriving on scene to a cricketer with an injured finger.
The panel were universally aghast that an air ambulance had been dispatched for such a minor injury. As they pointed out, helicopters tend to be a little thirsty when it comes to fuel and our Air Ambulances are run as charities, funded by the donations of a collection of fine and generous people. Plus there was already an ambulance on scene.
And what if there had been a genuine life or death emergency nearby. All very salient points. Yet not one of them questioned why on earth an ambulance had been called in the first place….
For the record, knowing how our media love to twist things, I would guess that there was more to this story than met the eye. But that’s beside the point. As far as this indignant panel of so called celebrities knew, it was a broken finger. Then the very same media wonder why we’re overstretched…
Oh well. Onwards and upwards. I guess I’d better go put my snorkel on and tread some water. (Otherwise known as get my arse to work!)
For any crew out there, I’d highly recommend a visit. I think you’ll be surprised and you’ll certainly be welcomed. Plus we usually have high sugar based food hanging around….
Stay safe out there.
Where necessary, particulars have been changed in order to protect the identity of individuals. Any similarity is therefore entirely coincidental.
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