“Drive! . . . Get us out of here, now!”

We were sat in the ambulance on the edge of the main road.  I’d just pressed the green button on our MDT which meant we were now available for our next job.  It was then that I noticed something happening further up ahead.

I didn’t catch on to what it was at first.  It was as if I was in a day dream, blissfully unaware of the events unfurling in front of me.  I seemed to stare but just not register.  My brain didn’t take on the fact that a large group of passer-bys were closing slowly in round one man – all pointing, staring and smiling at him.  And as I sat watching this one man, my eyes glazed phlegmatically over, my brain just failed to click into gear that he was stood in the middle of the road.  Dancing.  Wildly.  Wearing a grey three piece suit from his waste up.  Naked from his waste down.

And then it clicked into gear.  In a nanosecond I sat bolt up right and slapped my crew mate on the shoulder.

“Drive!”  I snapped,  “get us out of here, now!”

She’d been deep in the process of texting and almost dropped her phone in the ensuing panic.  But without questioning she rammed the truck into gear and lurched forward as fast as the lumpy square box would allow – heading straight toward the half naked man in the road.

“NO!!  Not that way!  Turn around.  Turn around.  Quick”
“Why?  What’s happening?”  She spun the truck round and headed in the other direction.
“Just drive.  Just drive”  I stared at the MDT, my fingers crossed, praying the screen would stay empty.

But it was a hopeless attempt at avoiding this inevitable job.  Within seconds the screen flashed and made the unmistakable sound of a job coming in; “Psychiatric/Mental Health/Suicide – 45 year old – male”.  God knows how many people must have dialled 999 to report this.

“Bollocks!”  My shoulders dropped and reluctantly I reached forward to press the ‘accept’ button.  My crew mate was still perplexed at what was happening and had started to giggle.  And, as we turned the vehicle back around and headed toward our patient it all became very apparent.  By the time we arrived on scene we were both chuckling at what we were about to be presented with.

Our patient was indeed dancing in the middle of the road, naked from his waste down.  His private parts leaping and bouncing on display to all those wishing to take note.  And those taking note were mainly from the Jewish Orthodox community – mothers, fathers and children alike, all appearing nothing but slightly bemused by the whole display.  All other types of people simply glanced at the crazy man, shrugged their shoulders and walked on.  To them this was nothing more than NFH*.

So, after some simple pleasantries we persuaded our man to come onto the ambulance where he was more than pleasant enough to answer all questions . . . for example;

“Are you diabetic?”  I asked, wanting to ascertain as quickly as possible whether or not his actions were the result of a hypoglycemic episode.

“No.  I’m maaaaad!”  The smile that accompanied this bold statement simply abolished, in my mind, any remaining suspicions over the validity of his sanity.

Eventually, after much history taking and observations we realised he was a very pleasant psychiatric patient who was in crisis and wanted help.  So, we did all we could do with vulnerable persons such as him, we took him to A&E and liaised with the Mental Health Assessment Team in order that he receive the best appropriate treatment and care available for him at that time.

Of course we also made sure he had a gown wrapped about his person as we walked him through the packed out waiting area – should anyone take offense.  And as we said our good byes he shook our hands and thanked us – the same wild eyed, million mile staring smile spread haphazardly across his face.

We smiled back and left him to it.


*Normal for Hackney