I'm kind of prosaic about our regular callers, they have chronic conditions (normally brought on by drinking), but they are normally easy to deal with and if you keep friendly with them, they are seldom trouble.
Until they start being incontinent on the back of your ambulance. But that is a subject for another day.
What I do dislike is the regulars who feel the need to lie to our calltakers.
Take regular patient number one – she calls for an ambulance, claiming that she has had a fit – when I turn up (I get mobilised for fitting patients a lot), she tells us that she hasn't had a fit, but her legs hurt, so can we take her to the hospital. Repeat this once or twice a day, and you wonder why some of us won't be too upset when we eventually find her dead in the gutter.
Tonight I went to regular patient number two – he is an alcoholic, who tonight told our Control that he had been assaulted 20 minutes earlier, and had had a seizure as a result of this assault.
I get sent the job, and speed three miles to get to the patient, only to find him drunk, he hadn't been assaulted, and there was no evidence that he had been fitting.
It isn't the actual going to the patient that bothers me, as I mentioned earlier, it's an easy job. What does annoy me is that I rush to these calls – putting myself and other road users at risk, only to find the patient not undergoing a life-threatening event. I get very cynical about these jobs.
I've tried telling them that if they call for an ambulance and say they have a painful leg, then they will still get an ambulance, but that they won't be putting other peoples lives at risk whether by my (lack of) driving skills, or by taking an ambulance away from someone who urgently needs an ambulance at that time.
But still they insist on calling for an ambulance with phantom illnesses.
I did do something else beside attend to our regulars – there was an 89 year old lady, living on her own, who had been having a panic attack for the last hour. This was around 3:30am, and a bit of hand holding (literally in this case), a drink of water, and a nice chat soon calmed her down. I left the ambulance crew to make her a cup of tea, as she didn't want to go to hospital.
The patient felt really guilty about calling for an ambulance – but I don't mind going to people who are scared or worried. It might not be the lifesaving hero work that most folk think we do – but for that patient, it can be just as important.
And for us… just as satisfying.