The boiler in my place is knackered, so I'm typing this wrapped up and hoping that the laptop heat will warm my legs. Once I get going it'll be fine (for I am completely cleaning and rejigging my flat). Any typos are due to me not being able to feel my fingers.
On our data terminals we have a 'special information' section, often this causes more problems than it solves.
“Elderly woman, unwell, called by relative not on scene, ring three times so she thinks it's her relative calling or she won't open the door”.
Now, we don't have extended contact with patients, but what we do is try to form some sort of relationship with them. Sometimes I take on a parent role while the patient is the child, sometimes it's a partnership and sometimes I'm the child and the patient is the parent. It all depends on what works with the patient. It's one of the skills that we ambulance people develop – to quickly determine the best way to approach the patient.*
What we don't do is start off with a deceit. It's never going to go well if the first contact that you have with the patient is to trick them.
Things tend to go downhill from there.
We were cancelled for a higher priority call (probably a twenty year old with the sniffles, so it goes) but I wondered what I would have done had I arrived on scene only to be greeted by a closed street door.
The options are simple assuming that the relative isn't nearby.
- Knock normally and hope that the patient opens the door. It's unlikely that she would. Then shout through the letterbox that we are an ambulance who've been called by her relative. Lots of elderly people try to avoid going to hospital (they aren't daft – people die in hospital), so that wouldn't guarantee success.
- Knock three times. The patient then opens the door expecting to see her relative and instead there is a 6'1″ tall stranger in green asking if her can remove her from the house. I can't see anything possibly going wrong with that.
- Knock normally, give up and wait for the relative to make their own way down to the house. This may take some time depending on how far away the relative is.
- Knock normally and when she doesn't answer get the police to kick down her door. Hmmm I suspect (quite rightly) that the police might refuse to do this.
- Be grateful I'm cancelled off the job and am on my way to do something far less stressful.
My job is simple – most folks could do it with the right bit of training – but it can get very complicated over the strangest detail.
*I used to know all the special names for this sort of thing, and much, much more. Now it's so soaked into the very fibre of my being and I've forgotten the 'proper' terminology because I use it unconsciously. I'll leave it to the experts to use the long and impressive words.