“He’ll end up in the bush,” I say.
“Nope – the road,” replies my crewmate.
The man we were watching dropped to the floor – in the road.
It was the last call of the night – a police CCTV camera had seen a man sitting in the middle of the road in what can only be described as a ‘dangerous’ part of town.
We arrived to find our patient rather drunk and sitting in the road under a CCTV camera. Circling him was a hungry pack of feral children who scattered when they saw us arrive.
We had a pleasant little chat with him – he had a scrape to his face when he had fallen over, and no desire to get out of the road.
We spent twenty minutes trying to persuade him to get out of the road. We tried being nice, we tried reverse psychology and we even tried explaining that the police would soon be here and they would make him move on. He refused to move, and he refused to go to hospital – he was a very stationary object.
We got back into ambulance, where it was warm, to await the police. We’d already parked in a ‘fend off’ position, so that our patient wouldn’t get hit by a passing car.
“Control, have we got an ETA for the police please?”
Control replied, “I can only tell you what they have told me – there are no policemen in the big policeman storage box, as they are all out dealing with other things”.
Right, I thought, time to try a little trick I learned while reading Mind Hacks. Certain gestures and objects have ‘hard-coded’ responses in your brain. So if you walk up to someone who is sitting in the road, and give them your hand (as if you were about to shake their hand), they will often take it, and from there it is fairly easy to get someone standing.
Success! Our patient was now standing (well…swaying) and indicated that he wanted to go home. His home was about 400 yards away in one of the tower of flats that surrounded us.
He took two steps and started to fall – he grabbed at my crewmate’s jacket, spun himself around her and by some miracle remained upright.
“I’m fine!,” he said, “I don’t want you helping me walk home”. He pulled his arms out of our grasp and started to stagger home.
We got into the ambulance and slowly followed behind him.
A message from the police (via our Control) appeared on our display terminal. “Are you alright? Does the man have any warning signs?”
“Control,” I was back on the radio, “I’ve got this message about ‘warning signs’. Well I don’t think he has any signal flares, or any of those reflective red triangles you put behind your car when it breaks down”. Yes, I know…I was being silly.
While trying not to laugh Control replied, “I wondered what the police meant by that as well”.
What I think had happened was that the CCTV operator had seen what looked like my crewmate being attacked by the patient when it was just his stumbling around.
We kept following the patient.
He stared to swagger.
He started to sway.
He swaggered some more.
We quickly laid bets on him falling into some bushes on onto the road.
I chose the bushes.
We got out of the ambulance and picked him up again. This time we decided that ‘technically’ breaking the law and frog-marching him home would be in the patient’s best interest. So we grabbed an arm each and in a jolly fashion walked him home.
With the three of us all with linked arms making our way down a deserted street, it was inevitable that I’d start whistling “We’re off the see the wizard”.
The patient got home safely, although I’d guess that the family member who answered the doorbell wasn’t too pleased with him.