This is a subject that I will endeavour to return from time to time.
Who would have thought that there could be regular callers of the emergency service. I never. I honestly thought people would view the emergency services as a last port of call. And I would never have believed anyone could call us as regularly as you would a friend or relative.
There are hundreds of regular callers in London – or “frequent flyers” as they are sometimes referred to. They cost the British tax payer thousands – millions probably! And by “regular” I don’t mean that these people have traumatic injuries every day or suffer heart attacks every other day – no, I mean they call because . . . because, erm . . . you know, I haven’t a clue why they call – they just do! Every day for some of them, and for others, several times a day!! We always end up on first name basis with them – and they too with some of us. Some are pleasant to deal with, whereas others can be the most wretched horrid people you’d ever have the misfortune of meeting.
I remember my first regular. I was as new as you could be and was working with a medic new to the area. The job came down on the MDT as “male, fitting in the street”. Upon arriving the gentleman was lying on the floor in the throws of what appeared to be an epileptic fit. If you have ever seen anyone having a seizure, its not a pretty sight. His body convulsed, his eyes rolled back, and a foamy saliva frothed from his mouth. By the time we were by his side, his seizure had ceased and the patient lay there unresponsive.
He was an unkempt man with a tatty old baseball cap on. Some of his “friends” stood by, cans of Tennants in their hands and emaciated Staffordshire Bull-Terrier dogs shivering at their feet.
“He said he had chest pain and then collapsed!” one pointed out waving his can, “I think he’s having a heart attack man – you gonna help him or what?!”
We rushed in and started doing what we were trained to do. I’d never seen someone fitting before so was a little nervous and was desperately trying to remember our protocols. A few seconds later and a shadow loomed over me. Looking up I saw an FRU standing by my side. His arms were folded and an enigmatic smile spread uninterestingly across his face. He didn’t move and seemed more interested in our frantic efforts in obtaining obs than with the patient. I was struggling with obtaining a BM. The patient’s hands were like spades and the small lanceletts were proving difficult at piercing his armour like skin.
The patient started tensing again and his back arched. We watched as his eyes rolled back and more froth started spurting from his mouth. It was another fit. Desperately I tried to hold him down – I don’t know why, it’s all I could think of doing. I had no idea what to do next and panic was gripping me. Was he going to die? Oh god, what do I do? I looked up to the FRU who still remained planted on the spot, arms folded. The only thing that had changed was his expression – from enigmatic to mildly amused. He seemed to recognise my look of despair and rolled his eyes and unfolded his arms dejectedly .
“Here, step out the way”
He reached forward and whipped the patient’s baseball cap off his head and stepped back quickly.
The effect was instant. The patient snapped out of his “fit” and jumped up grabbing at anything he could reach. My crew mate and I dived out the way.
“Give me back my hat ya bastards!!” his drunken tones spat disdain into the air. The FRU threw the hat into the patient’s hands chuckling.
“Right then Mr Wesley*, glad you’re feeling better – I’ll leave you in the capable hands of these fine folk”.
He then turned to us, and after a brief explanation of who Mr Wesley was he left us to carry on.
Mr Wesley would often feign epileptic fits to gain sympathy from the public. He would always be drunk and sometimes lash out. If he conveyed to hospital he would usually discharge himself out of boredom for being kept waiting too long. Or if not that he would be ultimately thrown out by security. To get him to do what you wanted we learnt quickly – all you had to do was take his hat from him.
These sort of cases happen every single day. The type of regular varies greatly and I’m sure I’ll touch on this subject again.
*Clearly not his real name
I just wondered, and sorry if this could be answered with an education, but what are the following: MDT, FRU & BM. Sorry if those are terribly obvious, but I am terribly stupid! 🙂
Not a problem JJ. I guess I should have made this clear – I have made up an extensive A-Z medical terminology in the “Ambulance Lingo” page.
All sayings, abbreviations etc are there. But for now an FRU is a “fast response unit” – a medic in a car. And a BM is a blood sugar count. the MDT is the on board computer thing that is all knowing!
Hope that helps.
There are some great performances out there which should really warrant oscar nominations. My favourite “regular” died recently. I felt quite sad about it, in a strange sort of way.
On the subject of “pseudo fitters”, I have almost been caught out before. I once went to a lady who was hyperventilating, with slight hand tremors. Something was amiss, we blued her in anyway. Lesion on the brain!
A very valid point and sadly the “cry wolf” policy stands well documented in many cases.
Always err on the side of caution I say. And yes – it is somewhat sad eh . . . we all wonder who will be the crew to eventually arrive at some of these regulars, ready for the usual banter only to find them deceased. It is really, only a matter of time.