It doesn’t take much to look an idiot in this job. And I seem to do it with ease.
There have been times when I have tried to sound more intelligent than I clearly am. And one such occasion was when we attended a “collapse behind closed doors”.
Each time we attend these jobs they are potentially a deceased purple ++ patient who could have been dead for any length of time. We often have to get the police to force an entry as legally, we are not allowed to break in ourselves. Thankfully, once we do get in the patient is often just wistfully asleep or not even at home! This bodes well for the patient – as they are not dead. It also bodes well for us as we don’t have to see them dead. However, the patient is often not amused by the fact that a policeman is holding their front door in their hands and trying to explain to them that they will be hanging around until they can get their property secured.
So, often the patient is alive in these cases . . . but sadly, sometimes they are not.
We stood outside the flat on the second floor banging on the door. It was nearing midnight, it was cold and it was our off-job. Peaking through a side window we could see a light was on in a room at the back but there was no response to our banging and shouts. So, we called Control and asked for the Police. We were informed they “may be some time”.
Shrugging our shoulders and putting our hands in our pockets we paced up and down trying to keep warm. We even tried next door neighbours who confessed not to even know the patient. Eventually, after nearly an hour waiting two squad cars arrived and we managed to open the front door. Once in the police lead us through to front room which was what we could just see through the window.
The room was clean and relatively bare of furnishings with only a table, sofa and tv in. Our patient was sat on their knees as if they’d dropped directly downwards and the top half of their body lay on the sofa, head facing us. Unfortunately for the patient he was dead. A tiny amount of congealed blood lay around their nose, but apart from that there were no other signs of what could have happened.
One officer couldn’t stop staring, “Are they dead?”.
I say this loosely – but you can eventually tell in most cases, just by looking, that someone is dead. Often, a glance is all it takes. But then sometimes you can get it wrong – and by that I mean I’ve checked the odd purple ++ patient and have almost convinced myself that they are still alive. One such time I was even trying to convince my crew mate to start CPR. After staring at me with a look of horrified disbelief they eventually convinced me not to bother and moved the patient’s hand to show me why. The whole body moved as if made of wood. They were in rigor mortis.
I checked the patient. They were as stiff as a board, “I believe they’re dead I’m afraid”.
“How do you think they died?” The other officer asked, looking through some bits of paper.
My crew mate and I looked at the patient and the surroundings and thought about it for a few moments . . . no signs of any struggle, collapsed directly downward, facing the sofa, the facial expression showed no signs of pain upon death.
“Probably an instant cardiac arrest . . .” I chirped convincingly.
“Yeh?” The officers seemed to be being drawn in by my expertise.
“Yep, yeh, I imagine he had a heart condition of some sort, possibly suffered a massive heart attack. Seen it lots before . . .” Damn, I was good.
“What about the blood?”
“Probably a little bit of haemorrhaging from the larynx, . . . or something” Trailing off I cringed.
“How long do you reckon?”
“Judging by the rigor mortis and temperature, anything between five and eight hours I reckon” Good recovery.
“You don’t suspect anything untoward do you?
“Nah. Not a chance I reckon.”
“Do you mind helping us just give the patient a once over?”
On any purple ++ the police have to briefly check the body for any signs of ‘foul play’. We managed to move the patient away from the sofa a little. The patient was ‘stuck’ in places due to the rigor mortis and either the sofa was going to tear away or the patient’s face was. After checking all we could, the only thing we could see out of the ordinary was the tiniest scratch on the front of their neck. After much deliberation we convinced the police that the probable cause of death was natural causes.
Just as it seemed we could be wrapping this up and going home, one of the officers stepped on something . . . “Hello, what’s this?” He stooped down and picked up what appeared to be a spent bullet cartridge. And then another to his right. And then another. Everyone froze. He slowly looked up at the others. There was grim silence as they exchanged knowing looks. My crew mate and I exchanged our own glances – and I could see her slowly screwing her face up and mouthing the words, “oh god no”.
Within seconds we were kicked out of the flat as they turned it into a crime scene. Within minutes there were four more police cars on scene and eventually, the place was crawling with officers all wanting a piece of the action.
My crew mate and I skulked away in the shadows desperately avoiding the police we’d originally talked to. After about half an hour an older police man with several important looking pips on his epaulettes approached and asked us several demanding questions. Like two school children facing the headmaster we stood, staring at our feet and mumbling our responses.
Eventually they let us go, surplus to their requirements and eventually we got back to station two hours past our finish time. Dejected, we said goodnight to each other and went home.
It wasn’t till a long time after that I had to write a report and have an interview with a DC about that job. It turns out the patient had not had a “massive heart attack”. No, it turns out they’d been shot – four times. Once in the throat and the rest across his body. The “scratch” on his neck was an entry wound.
Every now and then I bump into the officers from that night when on a job. I always smile weakly and ask them if they have any jobs going in their CSI division. The blank looks I get in return usually end the conversation.