Helpful Passers By

There is a secret(ish) forum for as ambulance staff, one of the people there posted this, while slightly tongue in cheek I thought that it would be shamefully wasted if it stayed on the forum. I reproduce it here for your reading pleasure. Send happy thoughts and wishes of quiet nightshifts to 'The Saint' who originally wrote this.

Would all helpful passers by please note:

If you really must ring for an ambulance for someone you see collapsed/dead/fitting/sat in a shop doorway, please ring then, and not three hours later, by which time – not surprisingly – the deceased has got up and left.

Two adult males sitting outside South Kensington tube station, sharing a bottle of Diamond White cider are NOT collapsed – they are having breakfast/dinner/lunch/a party. Singing, talking, vomiting and belching are all indications that the said males are alive.

Someone who is sitting in a shop doorway when it’s pissing with rain is SHELTERING, not collapsed.

Just because someone with crutches is sitting down, they are not necessarily in need of medical intervention. Having hospital crutches is a clue. They have already been to hospital, and have been discharged.

If you really feel you just have to interfere in the life of a person happily sitting there drinking himself into alcoholic oblivion, when you ask him if he needs an ambulance, please take it as a massive clue when he says “Faaaaaaaaarrrrrrkkkkkk Ovvvvvvvvvvv!!!!!” This is his little way of saying “Thank you for your concern, but I’m fine.”

When someone tells you they are fine, and they do not want an ambulance, please, please, please believe them. They are NOT lying – they know what they are doing.

Someone who is staggering between point A and point B CAN walk. The helpful clue is the movement of the legs and feet. If someone tells you that they cannot walk, but their legs are moving, THEY ARE LYING. Don’t believe them.

Green stuff coming from a drunks’ nose is NOT a reason for an emergency ambulance – it is actually a reason for an emergency hankie. Green stuff emanating from the patient’s nose is very rarely Cerebro-Spinal Fluid, despite what you might have learnt from Casualty, ER and Holby City. It is SNOT.

If you see a pair of legs under a car, and the legs are surrounded by mechanic’s tools, the person under the car has NOT been run over – he is more than likely to be FIXING it. Other clues are the radio playing nearby, and the deceased singing along to the music.

Talking of cars, if you happen to see several cars colliding with each other, and you can’t get through to the ambulance service, have a look around you. Yes, the other twenty people with phones stuck to their ears are ALL calling the ambulance service. That’s why you can’t get through. And please tell us the right location – saying you are on Greenford Broadway when you are on Southall Broadway is less than helpful. And please don’t insist you are right and the other twenty callers are wrong – it is highly unlikely.

Oh – and – please do not call the ambulance service if you see 200 people fighting on Fulham Broadway on Friday night. We are not remotely interested, and will not become interested until the police arrive. The police have guns, batons and CS gas, and can deal with a large fight a lot better than two female LAS personnel who are five feet nothing and jointly weigh 12 stone, and are only armed with rubber gloves and a frothy cappuccino from the Wild Bean Cafe. Please ring the police first – we’ll pop along a bit later. Honestly. We will.

Finally – the dictionary meaning of the phrase “passer by” is “A person who happens to be walking past someone or something.” It does not say “A person who stops and interferes. Don't do it Mate – it's not worth it!!

(I'm horribly ill at the moment, so this is also a cheating way of posting without much work on my part).

30 thoughts on “Helpful Passers By”

  1. i wonder if you swallowed a bit of amalgam filling from that tooth removal thats an awful lot of mercury that will leaching into your body course you are a 'medical believer' so won't believe that mercury from dental fillings is damagingI wonder if you realise that behaving like an absolute cock-monkey in order to push your agenda is not exactly helping your agenda?

    yet you are fairly autistic which should be telling you something

    You really should feel ashamed of that line but you won't, probably because you lack the emotional development necessary to feel shame. You score top marks for irony at least.

    I know you're probably not used to criticism. No doubt you have the kind of support network that make the LAS look tiny in comparison. But I think it's time someone introduced you to reality.

    You are not slow, unpopular and unattractive because you were poisoned with amalgam fillings by a world wide conspiracy of dentists, secret agents and aliens. You are like that because of the way you were born and the choices you have made.

    It is all your fault. All of it.

  2. Ah but you see, tell people it's not worth it and the next thing you know we'll get another one of those “drivers refuse to stop and help kiddie that got run over” stories. Or the one about someone bleeding to death on the pavement and everyone stepping over them. “I thought it was a drunk”.Also I'm not sure people *do* always know enough to refuse an ambulance. I mean, you're always getting people who don't realise they *don't* need an ambulance. It must work both ways, and passers by might be right occasionally, like if blood is gushing out of someone's head or something.

    Hope you feel better soon. Is it the dreaded cold that's been doing the rounds? It's a bugger that one.

  3. Great laugh! I will remember the bit about the legs moving being a clue. I hadn't thought of that. /rolls around laughing some more/(Btw, isn't is “passersby”?)

    Get unhorribly well as soon as possible!

  4. I hope you feel better soon – this might perk you up….U know my lecturer recommended your book to us the other day, and I was the only preson who knew who “Tom Reynolds” was, she's told my class of 95students to go out and buy it – cuz “it's bloody fantastic, and a real view of what you miserable lot will be dealing with”.

  5. i wonder if you swallowed a bit of amalgam filling from that tooth removalthats an awful lot of mercury that will leaching into your body

    course you are a 'medical believer' so won't believe that mercury from dental fillings is damaging, yet you are fairly autistic which should be telling you something

  6. Had a classic call from a “passerby” on yesterdays shift! Cat A Red Call to “50 year old male unco not breathing” in the street.Blues & Twos go on…progressive drive to location…avoiding all the Saturday afternoon shoppers…interesting creative driving observed enroute…arrived scene to find….bloke with front wheel puncture to his push bike!!!

    The passerby had rang from a mobile in car and did,nt bother to stop to check his suspicions on what he had seen, or what he had believed he had seen!

    No history of fall from bike/collapse from seeing said puncture on wheel…nothing at all to suggest anything approaching the need for a Cat A Red Call!

    The caller “passerby” must be living in a parallel universe seeing things in the other dimension!

  7. Hope you feel better soon! (I'm waiting for a verdict on whether my wisdom teeth need pulling, but the gory stories about pain/infection etc aren't helpful – so I hope it's a 24/48 hour bug rather than that).

  8. hope you feel better soon!I'm still trying to formulate appropriate text for an “I'm Okay, Really, This Happens To Me All The Time” card to give to concerned members of the public who descend on me when I'm just needing to rest for a moment.Like yesterday. It was raining. I needed, and I mean needed to sit down. So I sat on a wet bench. Sure enough, concerned members of the public came over, and wouldn't believe that I was sitting down for a minute because I needed to just sit down for a minute, because apparently if I'm sitting down in the wet then I must be terribly acutely ill and need emergency help…??? Like life is different just because it's raining or something.The trouble is getting people to back off without mortally offending them.

  9. I reckon passersby should *ask* the person if they are okay, absolutely, every time.But when the person is capable of saying they are fine, and assuming there's no pool of blood or limbs bent the wrong way, passersby should accept that it's Not An Emergency and move on with their lives.

    Maybe say something like “is there anything you need?”, “are you going to be able to get home ok?”, or “is your GP aware? Maybe an appointment wouldn't be a bad idea,” but don't insist on calling out a full emergency ambulance.

  10. Many years ago I helped a guy who came into a shop late at night. He staggered in with bad cuts to his face and he was clearly drunk. He didn't want an ambulance, he wanted the police. I checked him over and he was OK. So thinking he wanted to report an assault we called the police. When the law arrived they groaned and told us he was a regular who gets drunk, falls over and wants someone to call the police to take him home.

  11. Sorry to hear you're poorly. Hope you're being looked after well ;~)Thanks for that, now I know what to do when I pass by a dead person who gets up and staggers over to fix a car.

  12. Is there an easy way though to be sure that a 'drunk' who beligerently insists they don't need help isn't actually a diabetic suffering low blood sugar? I've read some stories where the police have locked some 'drunk' up in their cells to sleep it off overnight, only to discover them dead or in a diabetic coma the next morning.Fortunately I've never had to call an ambulance, though I have called the police to alert them to horses (not mine) loose on a main road at 2am.

    Hope you feel better soon, toothache is hell.

  13. Hello “Tom” Its The Saint here – Ta V Much for copying my bit of a moan on your blog. Much appreciated. I normally cover West London as you prob guessed – hence the Fulham, Greenford bit etc. By the way, I used to do West Ham games a few years back, and I'm pretty sure I did one or two with you. I work East central every now and then on relief or overtime. So I do prob talk to you on the telephone or RT every so often. Book was spot on by the way- doing the rounds in control as we speak! I don't reckon I'll see it again. Get well soon. Don't forget ther new LAS motto “Dead or Alive – You're Coming With Us”

  14. Wisdom teeth removals and root canals seem to get nothing but horrible tales. I've had both, and the worst of them was aching of the jaw from having my mouth open wide for so long. It only needed some OTC painkillers for a couple of days at most, so it's not always a nightmare – seriously.My wisdom teeth were all impacted, at least partially under the other teeth and growing in funny directions. They were repeatedly becoming infected and pressing on the nerves in my jaw, causing severe pain (neuralgia). I eventually had all four out under general at the hospital and my friends and family saw fit to torture me with tales of broken/dislocated jaws, foot/kneeprints, black and blue faces, inability to eat for days/weeks etc. None of it was true in my case. My jaw ached a bit, but nothing Nurofen couldn't manage, and despite the stitches and anaesthetic, I was home and eating within 2 hours, and I had no bruising, no visible swelling, no broken bones, no infections, no dry sockets, no nothing. The worst thing, once the general aching went after a couple of days, was that the stitches would tickle my gum/cheek and drive me spare!

    So if it does turn out you need 'em removed, try not to worry too much. It's not always as bad as you think it's going to be. I booked a week off work, having them out on the Friday, and I could quite happily have gone back on the Monday, so I had a nice, relaxing week holiday instead. 🙂

  15. You have my sympathy, Batsgirl. I have a chronic health condition also that causes me constant pain, and I'm in much the same state of affairs as you are re: work etc. When I am (rarely) well enough to go out, I have to rest frequently as well. I'm lucky in the respect I have someone who acts as my carer and is always with me, so people generally leave me alone but I've had so many moments where my legs have buckled or I've been doubled up while I catch a rest for a moment, and people find it very hard to accept that yes, I do have severe pain, but no, it's not going to make any difference if I go and waste several hours in an A&E department.On the other hand, I also find myself having to deal with people who can't understand that it's a disabling condition because I'm not old/on crutches/in a wheelchair or any other kind of visible clue to my pain – and people can be downright nasty when you need a seat and they don't want to move, or if they spot you sitting quietly somewhere and they decide you're just lazy. That, I find, is even harder, especially when I can hardly stand. I daren't honestly even consider the blue badge for parking because I know people will assume I'm stealing a space from someone who's “really disabled”.

    I like your card idea though – I might just work on that myself for both the overly concerned and the judgemental disbelievers.

  16. A while ago (in The Saint's West London region) I called an ambulance for a man who was having trouble getting along (sat on ground, staggered along a bit then sat again, then lay down). This happened outside my house. I investigated and he had a lot of symptoms of being drunk, but I couldn't smell any drink on him and he didn't have the “normal” appearence of a regular drunk (i.e he was reasonably clean and well dressed). He was concious, but unable to say anything that made sense. In the end I decided to call because I thought he may a low blood sugar diabetic (also he had broken glasses which may have indicated he had fallen and had a head injury). I made it quite clear that he was concious and breathing. A few minutes later a first response car arrived and a few minutes later an ambulance arrived saying that they had rushed from the other side of ealing as it was given to them as a top priority (I can't remember exactly – red something- but the driver said it meant the patient was dead, or thereabouts). As it turned out the first reponse bloke searched him and found a half bottle of vodka tucked in his jacket and managed to get a response that it wasn't the first (hence no smell of alchohol). I wonder a) was there something I should have done to avoid calling 999 (I didn't feel it was right to search him for hidden bottles!)? and b) how on earth did my call to the ambulance control turn into an emergency dash across the borough?Get well soon !!!

  17. (a) nope, it's fine to call us – the above post is vaguely tongue in cheek. you approached the patient and didn't think he was drunk, so that's fine. (b) Who knows, AMPDS can be a funny beast sometimes…Probably (Not alert)

  18. All SO true. The problem is worse with the proliferation of cell phones, since someone can just dial 911 (999) and keep right on driving without even bothering themselves to stop and help. Absolves the lazy sod of any guilt involved in not being a good Samaritan, but doesn't delay them from that important trip to Ikea. We've had a few similar – “Unconscious male on a rock in the river (Sunbathing, asleep)”, “Unconscious male on the side of the road (stupid, asleep)”, “Vehicle stopped in the roadway, person slumped at the wheel (broken down, in fact not even IN the car)”.Same kind of thing holds true for the Fire Department, too. (“Smoke coming from the roof of a house somewhere on Rte 4” – Yes – it's called a CHIMNEY).

  19. Just a quickie – my post on our website which Tom used was totally tongue in cheek, albeit with a bit of seriousness thrown in. The amb crews actually DO get fed up to the back teeth (infected or not) with calls that are “Not As Given”. There really are people who think we are a Taxi Service, and other who think they are being really helpful by insisting that so-and-so needs an ambo, when all the “patient” wants is their own armchair in their own front room, and a cup of tea (or – occasionally – a beer !!). It was just my way of saying ” Ask them if they are OK first ( unless they are OBVIOUSLY in need (for instance, just been hit by a bus).

  20. Brilliant.Having spent all weekend balancing incoming patients with fewer and fewer beds I just love some of the admissions we get. Some of them are people who have called the ambulance themselves for some of your listed complaints.

    It's so true !

    Keep up the very funny blog.

  21. oh god… first up, if you are entitled to the badge, Get The Badge. Really. If people give you filthy looks, f**k 'em. I'll take filthy looks over collapsing while trying to traverse several hundred metres of carpark, any day. A car park is not a good place to hit the deck.Anyone important in your life will know you're not taking the piss, and everyone else can go hang.

    Secondly, I know what you mean about disability being more accepted if you have the right “accessories”. Lurch across road slowly with a walking stick, drivers wave you across and smile. Lurch across road without stick, drivers assume you are drunk and honk horns at you and yell abuse out the window. No idea what to do about that one.

  22. If its the web site I am thinking about its a top site. I am one of the poor people in eoc in manchesterand its so frustrating when we get these passer by calls 30 mins later.

    The only way is the bwts way

    is that the site u mean


  23. LOL, “f**k 'em” is precisely what my friend/carer says too. I should definitely start listening and disregarding the idiots. The worst bit with our local car park is that there is only one set of lifts, in one corner of the car park, leaving the rest of it fed only by the stairs (on alternate levels) or the long walk around. More than once I've just stopped along the way and waited for him to drive down to me. Some people just don't think about how difficult it is for people with mobility problems to get around.It's definitely tough when you “look ok”. You throw up, you must be drunk. You fall over, you must be drunk. You pass out, you must be drunk…. and yet, the ambulance crews are perpetually being called out to drunks that people think are really ill – how does that work? Regarding “accessories”, I've actually seen post-minor-keyhole-surgery guides recommend that people take out a walking stick to clue people in that they're feeling fragile, for precisely these reasons.

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