Lexicography Of The L.A.S. (or what “punter” means)

Clark Oliver, asked me what “punter” meant and I realised that a lot of people come from the Emergiblog webring or one of the sites that makes up that ring. These blogs are all American so, as we are “two countries separated by a common language” I thought I might give you a list of some words that you may find me using, some are slang while some are official – I think you will be able to guess which are which. You may well know some of these, but not speaking American I'm just guessing what isn't common over there.
There is a big list of “official” jargon Here, while if you are feeling brave, while there is a more general slang based site Here. For a longer list similar to this one, but collecting UK/US terms go Here.

N.H.S. – The National Health Service, the “free at point of access” healthcare system of Britain. Paid for by taxes it is on the point of collapse. Split into a number of “trusts” which include hospitals, GP services and Ambulance areas.

L.A.S., “Da Firm”London Ambulance Service, the company I work for, also called “Da Firm” by those of us on the ground floor. Run by Da Boss Peter Bradley – who is a top bloke and well liked by the grunts – he is a Hell of a lot better than his predecessors.

EC/NE/NW/SE/SW/C – the sectors of the London Ambulance Service; East Central, North East, North West, etc…

Punter – A patient (or “client” if you want to sound like a twit); from a slang term used by second-hand car salesman, actually meaning a gambler – or one who is about to make a gamble (so therefore an accurate description of our patients).

Bent – Wrong, illegal, corrupt or a derogatory term for a homosexual. Used as… “That car radio is bent“, “That bloke is bent” or “All the police are bent“. Also used as “running back bent” meaning going for food/back to station without Control knowing about it.

Scrote – An often alcoholic person with more tattoos than teeth, bad hygiene and a poor attitude towards employment. Scrote is also short for Scrotum.

Chav – Like a scrote, only with more money. See www.chavscum.co.uk

Alkie – An Alcoholic.

Tramp Juice – Super strength lager, sold cheap. Examples include “White Lightning” and “Tennents Super”. Empty cans of which signify the less salubrious parts of town.

E.C.G. – E.K.G. (Not all strange words are based around scrotes) An examination of the heart using electrical impulses generated by the heart – if you are in an ambulance and the crew start to look worried at the printout you may be in trouble.

Banjotown – Becontree, and areas around it, not called Banjotown because of the apparent inbred nature of the place, but more to do with it's street layout… Yeah right!

“Ambo”, “Big White Taxi”, “Motor”, “Truck”, “Drunkmobile”, “Barely working shitheap” – Ambulance

Cat “A” – A high priority emergency call – this is the priority that Cardiac arrests get, along with chest pains, children under 2 years old, difficulty in breathings and the like. These are timed with ORCON which I will rant about later…

Amber Call – in contrast with a “Cat A” these are the less serious calls. Stuff like RTA's, CVA's, Epileptic fits.

Green Call – Lowest priority, cut fingers, coughs and runny noses. Often mistaken with Cat A's because people who call ambulances for a cough often complain of chest pain and difficulty in breathing.

T.A.S. – Telephone Advice Service, when someone calls for an ambulance for some minor crap they may sometimes be diverted to the TAS desk at CAC for advice, this saves us going to about 20 calls a day – across London.

C.A.D. Number – Each job has it's own number refreshed each day, because of this I can tell you that the LAS goes to 3000+ calls every day. Stands for Computer Aided Dispatch.

G.P. – Family health provider, We only get to see the crap ones who sit “?MI” out in their waiting room and don't even give them an aspirin.

C.P.N. – Community Psychiatric Nurse, an often useless person who visits people with mental health problems in the community. See this previous post for more info.

Wanker – Technically someone who masturbates. In reality a fairly mild insult.

Bloke, Fella – Male person.

I.V.D.U. – Someone who injects illegal drugs intravenously.

Popper – Someone who injects drugs subcutaneously, a handful died in Glasgow a little while ago from an infected source; leading to much merriment for the local ambo crews.

“Native” – In East London a person from an ethnic minority, mainly because there are more ethnic minorities than “white British”. This isn't actually an insult, more a running joke.

C.T. – A CAT Scan.

M.D.T. – Mobile Display Terminal; installed in the ambulance the computer screen that, running Windows in-between crashing gives us the details of jobs.

C.A.C. – Central Ambulance Control, full of people who actually take the 999 calls, and others who actually dispatch us to the jobs. They have air conditioning and don't actually smell the patients that they send us to.

999 – The number you dial to get the ambulance. Equivalent to the American 911 or European 112.

Watersquirters, LFB, Mobile Drip Stands, Trumpton – The Fire Service, A bunch of part-timers who get to sleep all night as there are very few fires in London and no-one cares if cats get stuck in trees during the night.

Plod, Boys in Blue, Old Bill, Fuzz, Coppers – The Police, a bunch of folks we tend to get on well with, especially when they let us off speeding when they find out who we work for.

Purple, Purple Plus – A dead body, the “plus” indicates a body that has been dead for some time; often recognisable when you walk in the front door and are hit by the smell.

R.T.A. – Road Traffic Accident, the British version of a MVA.

G.B.H. – Grievous Bodily Harm, an assault that breaks a bone or other serious injury. Someone who is going to bleed over the back of your motor.

Matern-a-taxi – What an ambulance turns into when transporting a near term pregnancy who is having contractions every “two minutes” yet you don't see anything approaching a contraction during the thirty minute journey.

N.H.S. Direct – Another telephone advice service, staffed by nurses they will tell you to call an ambulance for having a cold. Ring 0845 46 47 for 24 hour advice. Often disparagingly called “NHS Re-Direct”.

12 thoughts on “Lexicography Of The L.A.S. (or what “punter” means)

  1. How funny! I love the terms all us Blokes come up with world wide. I always get a giggle out of the slang used in the streets.Thanks!

  2. R.e. terms for the Fire Brigade, back when I worked for LUL (I was a Line Controller on the District Line) we used to refer to them as the “water fairies”.

  3. The Sydney (Australia) version of scrote is “Trog” or “Droid”. (Derivation uncertain). Must admit I like “Toe rag” – now sadly falling out of favour.

  4. You make me feel quite nostalgic! I trained as a nurse at the erstwhile Westminster Hospital. I now live across the other side of the pond but new colleagues have to have my own particular brand of English explained to them.

  5. I love the term Watersquirters for the LFB!Made my day. Doesn't take much to amuse me though…especially something like that…

  6. This lexicography is brilliant, and so is your blog. I'm glad my good friend Stephanie Booth showed it to me. The health system seems rather different where I live (Montreal), but it gives me lots of interesting information. I'm a very soon to be translator specialized in medical translation, which means I've always been fascinated by medecine and all that revolves around it, but I am unable to score in maths, chemistry, physics and I have a passion for linguistics, so there I am.Oh, and for the funny part (and hopefully you won't take it as an insult!), when I read your blog I can't help thinking about Nicolas Cage driving his ambulance like a madman in the poorest areas of NYC. 🙂

  7. There are lots of funny lexycons and other funny words. For example, Coca-Cola means “Satan” in another language that I never heard about and so on. Or reading in reverse some words:)) bla bla and bla bla some more.

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