I've often mentioned that the ambulance service and the police tend to get on rather well together, this is at least in part due to us both being called to the same jobs, and probably because we share the same view of the “Great British Public”.
An example, we got called to a drunk who was being verbally abusive to a bus driver – we were called because the drunk had fallen over, while the police were called because of the abuse. The drunk man was obnoxious, and well known to both of our services, and because of the lack of an injury was left in the care of the police. If he had been injured then the police would have left the matter in our hands.
So, when we co-respond, the ambulance crew pray that the patient is uninjured, so the police have to deal with them, while I suspect that the police hope that the patient is injured so they don't have to arrest them.
However, there are a lot of specialist teams in the police service that we tend not to come into contact with that often, we mainly get to meet the normal 'beat' coppers. Thankfully we rarely see the murder, child abuse, drugs, or dog teams. This isn't to say we never see then (and our station did get a Christmas card from the local murder squad telling us to 'keep up the good work'), it's just that it is fairly rare.
So it was rather surprising that I met with the dog handling team twice last week. On the first occasion, we were called to a known schizophrenic who had threatened to kill herself. The patient herself (a regular attender at the local A&E) was a bit of a pain to deal with, she wanted to stay at home and kill herself and couldn't see why we couldn't let her do that. Her dog, on the other hand, was a real pleasure – happy to see us, interested in smelling all our equipment and extremely friendly. As the police were already there, they got the dog squad to look after the animal until the patient was discharged from hospital.
In case you think I am being harsh on the mentally ill, the patient attends A&E every day with the same complaint of wanting to kill themselves…she hasn't managed it yet
The second time I saw the dog handling team, was when we had to gain access to a house where the patient was unable to come to the front door and let us in. The interesting part in this story is that there were five dogs of unknown temperament in the house. For half an hour the police unsuccessfully tried to gain access, mainly by climbing up a ladder and trying to open a bathroom window. We were able to talk to the patient, and so we knew that they weren't badly hurt, otherwise we would have had to kick the door down. Then the dog team turned up, and using a top secret criminal technique, managed to get the front door open in about 10 seconds, thus putting to shame the half-hour everyone else had spent trying to gain entry.
All five dogs were really lovely, although energetic – and at the end of the job I had to spend 20 minutes brushing the dog hair off my uniform.
There is a joke we have about dogs. When we ask a patient if the dog is friendly, the patient always answers that they won't bite, the reply to this from the ambulance crew is to add the unspoken, “They only bite people dressed all in green”.
Finally, to reply to some of the comments and emails about my posts about 24 hour drinking. I suspect that part of the problem is the term used. We should stop using the phrase “Binge Drinking”, and instead use the term “People who drink to get drunk”. I think that might clear up a lot of confusion…