You’re Dead?

We’d been standing in front of the patient for about ten minutes trying to ascertain why it was he had called us.  We still didn’t know and it was starting to become a little frustrating.

He was a short Eastern European man who appeared to live on his own in an unkempt and chronically neglected flat.  He had one arm in plaster with wires connected to his fingers and the entire flat reeked of cheap lager and industrial strength vodka.

The call had come down as a “45 year old man with a hurt arm – [tippy title=”Loc Match” URL=””]“Location Match”. This means the address we’re going to has a history.  Usually to do with violence but sometimes based around a general clinical history.  It also means that in most cases we need to hold back and wait for the Police to attend – for our safety.  This process of protecting us works for the most part – but on very few occasions we get the ‘Loc Match’ details after we have made contact with the patient![/tippy]”.  After radioing in we were informed the patient had a history of belligerence and violence toward crews and were therefore told to hold back for the police.

After we’d hooked up with a police we approached the patient’s flat – police first of course – and knocked on his door.  The little man opened up and upon seeing the police standing in front of him he reeled backwards spitting his disdain.

Patient:          “What!  You not come here!  Go away!!”
Police:           “Hello sir, we’ve come to check that you’re alright – ”
Patient:          “Fuck off!  I not have terrorist papers!  Go away!  They come in, not you!”
Police:           “Now sir, we just need to see that everything is fine – can we come in?”
Patient:          “No!  They come in, not you.  No terrorist papers.  Fuck off!”

My crew mate and I stood on the stairs at a safe distance watching.  We glanced at each other and shrugged our shoulders.  After a short time, the police were able to calm the patient enough to allow us all to enter.

So – here we were trying to work out what it was he wanted.  We’d exhausted almost all avenues and were starting to become exasperated.

Crew mate:     “So, do you have any pain?  Anywhere?  Your arm?  Anything?”
Patient:           “No”
Crew mate:     “Well, what is it?  Why have you called us?”
Patient:           “I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “I’m sorry?”
Patient:           “I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “You’re dead?”
Patient:           “I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “Do you think you’re dying?”
Patient:            “No.  GP say I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “Did he say you’re dying?”
Patient:           “No. I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “You’re dead”
Patient:           “Yes.  Dead”
Crew mate:     “. . . . . . . !!!?”
Patient:           “. . . . . . . . .”
Binder:            “So . . . you’re not alive.  Is that it?”
Patient:           “Yes.  GP say I’m dead”
Crew mate:     “. . . . . . . !!!?”
Binder:            “. . . . . . . !!!?”
Patient:           “. . . . . . . . .”

Again, my crew mate and I exchanged glances and ever so gently shrugged our shoulders.  The patient looked up at us both expectantly.  Sighing, I stepped up to the patient and took his wrist checking his pulse.

Binder:             “You’re not dead.  You’re alive.  You have a pulse, see.  This means you’re heart is beating.  This means you’re alive.  OK?”
Patient:            “I’m alive??!!”
Binder:             “Yes”
Patient:            “Not dead??!!”
Binder:             “Not dead.  Alive.  Its a miracle.  Happy days!”
Patient:            “Thank you!  Thank you!!  I’m alive!”

The patient looked genuinely over the moon with our diagnosis.

Binder:             “Would you like anything else?  To go to hospital perhaps?”
Patient:            “No. No.  Thank you.  Nothing else.  Goodbye.”

We picked up our bags and left quickly, almost running down the stairs to the ambulance.  Once back at our truck the police passed as chuckling.

Police:             “You guys are goddam heroes!  How do you cope?  We could never do your job”  They mocked.
Binder:            “You’re goddam right we’re heroes!  But you know what?  We’re just doing our job man – we’re just taking it one day at a time”  We mocked back.