Most of the time hoax calls are rather simple things. Often someone, mostly a child, will call the ambulance service from a phone box. We dutifully whizz around there with our blue lights and sirens in an effort to
meet the government target save a life, only to find that there is no-one there.
In this latest call we were sent around to a house where it was said that a young woman had phoned for an ambulance themselves and, after giving a medical history of some detail, said that she was finding it so hard to breathe that she was unable to open the door.
We arrived to find the house in question looking un-lived in – there are subtle clues that even the densest ambulance man can point to as being a sign of no-one living there. In this case it was over a week load of junk mail in the house foyer.
We knocked on the door and there was no answer. Now, if there is someone laid out on the floor then I'm happy to attempt to kick in a door – however in this case, with signs of neglect and a slightly strange call, I decided that I'd get the police (something that we are supposed to do for all forced entries anyway).
The police arrived quickly and set about gaining access, the neighbours had come out to see what the fuss was about and they told us that the owner of the house had recently died. But we couldn't leave the scene without being sure.
The police managed to get the two front doors open as as soon as we entered it was obvious that the house was indeed empty.
On the way out, while passing the gate I felt a tug, heard a 'Pop!' and felt a tearing sensation – my (not very well made) uniform came apart at the seams. Thankfully it was only one of the leg pockets, but it was still annoying.
After a bit of a laugh with the police officers, and naturally my crewmate, we returned to the ambulance and informed Control that the call was a hoax. I then said that I would need to go to the hospital for 'essential repairs due to a wardrobe malfunction'.
You see, there is a bit of a tradition in the NHS – in that you aren't a proper NHS worker until your uniform, or a bit of kit that you use, has been mended using medical supplies.
Being slightly clumsy I passed that milestone in my career quite some time ago. There is a reason why on some of our ambulances bits of equipment are secured with medical tape…
So we headed back to the hospital where I asked the lovely nurses if I could have a loop of suturing material, and then sat outside in the ambulance sewing up my pocket. I used to suture people up, but it's a fair bit trickier to do the same to a pair of trousers that you are wearing without the aid of the forceps that you need to easily handle the needle.
So – a hoax call not only wasted ambulance time, but also the time of the police and ended up with me off the road while I fixed my kit. At least when the police broke into the house they did so without causing any damage so could secure the house again after we left.
Here is hoping that should the hoaxer ever need an ambulance we are all off dealing with slightly more deserving people.