Pseudo-Collapsers – part 1

*Warning – quite a long entry*

I don’t know why I’ve honed in on this subject.  It could be that the people who do this seem to be nothing more than a drain on resources – and this might be annoying me.  Or it might be because what they do deserves nothing more than abject contempt – and this might be infuriating me.  Or maybe its just because the very nature of their actions and the efforts they put in borders on the hilarious – and this tickles me.

There could be lots of reasons.  But, for the intentions of this blog and in order to promote a happier lifestyle I think it best I choose the latter.

Pseudo-collapser 1

The call came down to us as a 20 year old male collapsed in the street.  Upon arrival we were presented with a young Bengali lad lying on his back, supposedly comatose, beside his VW Golf whilst his even younger teenage girlfriend stood by crying hysterically.

We ascertained that the pair had been arguing in his car.  Well, when I say arguing I mean he was arguing at her.  Apparently, he was accusing her of not loving him and seeing lots of people behind his back . . . etc.  She’d tried to walk off – he’d stopped her – the argument became heated and then . . . he collapsed where he was.

An FRU also arrived and, after the preliminary checks, both he and I set about ‘waking’ our patient up whilst my crew mate took the young girl to one side to comfort her.

We’d exhausted the flickering eyelids and hand-on-face tests – he’d failed them both – and had moved on to the sternum rub which, under the circumstances, he was taking well.

FRU:             Open your eyes fella!  **rub rub rub**  Come on, wake up!  **rub rub rub**  You’re upsetting your girlfriend now  **rub rub rub**

He then stopped and turned the patient’s head to one side.

FRU:            Oh my god.  Do you see that?!  I think this is actually an ‘inter-cranial hemorrhage’!  Quick – get me the scalpel and the forceps!  I’m gonna have to go in via the ear!

Instantly jumping on the band wagon of deceit, I joined in.

Binder:        Are you sure?!  You remember the consequences?

My grip tightened on the patient’s hand and my voice lowered just enough that only the three of us could hear.

Binder:        There’s only a 30% success rate, you know that.  He might not ever walk again!
FRU:            He might not live if we don’t!!!  Now pass me the tools!!

I handed him a rolled up length of tissue paper.  The FRU turned the patient’s head to one side and started to insert the tissue slowly into his ear.

As if by magic the patient started coming round.

Patient:        Wh-wh-where am I?  Wh-what’s happened?

He instantly recovered to the point of refusing any further assistance from us and quickly returned to his quarrel with his girlfriend.  Within a couple of minutes they were back in the car and had sped of at high speed.

Another life saved!

Pseudo-collapser 2

This call came down to us as Red 1, 30 year old, Cardiac Arrest.  We raced round there at supersonic speeds to be met by a group of eastern Europeans standing in the street shouting and frantically beckoning toward their house.

We lept from out truck, grabbed our kit and headed inside.  Upon entering I could see right through to the other end of the house.  A huge topless Lithuanian man was standing facing me.  In one hand he held a mobile phone to his ear and seemed to be taking instructions whilst his other was attempting chest compressions to a smaller man lying on a sofa to his side.

As I got nearer I could see that our patient had his eyes squeezed shut and was clearly holding his breath.  With every chest compression he would wince.  If it wasn’t for the softness of the sofa underneath the huge man’s hands would have caved in his chest for sure.  As it was, each push down sent the patient’s arms and legs up in the air.

Jumping forward I forced myself between the massive gorilla and the patient.  Instinctively I put my fingers to his neck to check for a pulse.  The man still lay there holding his breath, cheeks puffed out and eyes squeezed shut.

What the hell was I doing?!  Why was I checking for a pulse??!  I snatched my hand away and lent in closer.


Miraculously he did as he was told and opened his eyes, letting out his breath at the same time.  Sitting up he then put the back of his hand theatrically to his forehead and smiled weakly.

It turned out this person had only been in the UK for a couple of weeks and no one seemed to know him very well at all.  They’d all been playing poker which, it turns out, he’d been losing quite badly.  He was seen to get up from the table and then collapse on the sofa where they reported he’d ‘stopped breathing’.

Inevitably, he didn’t want to go to hospital and didn’t want any help, so we left him in the care of his colleagues, with good advice.

Pseudo-collapser 3

We’d arrived outside a block of flats.  Our patient was currently in the throws of resisting arrest.  Several officers were attempting to march him across to one of the police vans.  The patient’s family all stood round screaming abuse at the police.  The patient was putting up a good fight by all accounts.

Patient:        Let me have some water!!  I need water!!  I’ll have fits!!

The family all jeered at the police adding their agreement to the man’s needs.

Family:         Let him go!!  Give him some water for fucks sake!  Let him go!  You fuckers!  He has a medical condition man!  Give him some water!

The police, mid struggle, looked at me enquiringly.  I didn’t really want to get involved but found myself disagreeing.

Binder:         He can go without water for now, its not a problem

The police continued.  Just as they were about to force him into the van his body went rigid, his eyes rolled back and he started to convulse.  The police assisted him to the floor where he continued with small convulsions.  The whole family went mad – screaming, wailing and crying.  The police, as one, stopped what they were doing and turned to me.

Swallowing hard I stepped forward and did a couple of the eye tests . . . he failed them both.  I stepped back and noticed that even the family were staring at me also.

Binder:         Nope, I think he’s faking . . .

I wanted to give a full explanation of what was going on but the police were no longer interested.  As one, they dived onto the patient and continued what they were doing before.  Instantly, the patient snapped out of his ‘fit’ and started fighting back again.

I retreated back to the ambulance and left them to it.

Pseudo-collapser 4

This was another 20 year old collapse query cause.  We arrived a minute after the FRU to find the young Turkish lad lying on his back by his car.  His two mates were standing by in a state of panic.

This time the patient was fully with it (GCS 15) but said he couldn’t move anything from his neck down.  It also turned out that he had a very recent history of a head injury that had required brain surgery – something his friends also knew about.

His friends informed us how he’d got into this position . . . he’d been driving along normally when all of a sudden he told them he felt very strange.  He had a sudden onset of a pounding headache which affected his vision.  Stopping the car, he’d got out and then promptly collapsed, straight down where we eventually found him.

All our observations were fine but with his recent history and what was presenting to us we had to take this seriously.  And by all accounts we did.  We loaded him onto the truck, did a quick ECG and blued him into the local hospital.

After handing the patient over in resuss we booked in and then went outside for a cuppa.  At that point the family arrived and we watched them enter the hospital to go see him.  The mother appeared more focused than worried or concerned.

Then, within twenty minutes of their arrival, the doors to the hospital burst open and our patient, complete with ECG dots spread across his bare chest, charged out and stormed down the road . . . closely chased by his irate mother who was spitting and yelling at him at a million words per minute.

My crew mate and I exchanged glances and continued drinking our tea.  After I’d finished I went in to ask what had happened.

Nurse:         Yeh, I thought I’d recognised him.  He keeps doing this.  He pretends to collapse just to get the attention off his Mum.  It used to work but now she’s getting a little pissed off with it . . . as you’ve just seen.

So sometimes, even we get caught out.

The next entry will see four case studies where; another Turkish man collapses in the high street, a just released prisoner collapses in front of a group of teenagers, an old age pensioner tries to feign a CVA and an Irish regular catches my crew mate and I out with a catatonic collapse in the street.

Many apologies that this was a long one and hope everyone isn’t too bored.


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