An NHS Tradition

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.

13 thoughts on “An NHS Tradition”

  1. Nice one! I thought it was going to be a crime story – someone wants the house broken into, so they can later gain access to rob it, burn it down, or maybe set up a squat.Damn my over-active imagination!!

  2. It would have been ironic if you'd pricked your finger whilst sewing up your trousers.Thank goodness you didn't find a body when you got into the house- oh dear I read too many crime novels!

  3. The problem is that our service is based on trust. We trust the general public to use good sense when deciding to call an ambulance. What sort of kick people get out of doing this I am at a loss to know. We recently had to go to a 'frequent flyer'. The police turned up at the same time. She left, not in our truck but in a police van in handcuffs being charged with wasting police time. It was obvious that she had mental health issues which were not being addressed. Once again, the police and ourselves end up plugging the gaps in the social care system.

  4. When I used to take calls – and with the advent of the marvellous Caller Line Identifier – hoax calls from kids in phone boxes were easy to deal with: “I know exactly where you're calling from – we can see you on the phone box camera. You're in the one outside the Library on Green Street, and just look up at the top left corner – Smile for the camera please!!!”Usual result “Oh Sh*t”

  5. I had a (unfortunately very rare) pleasant experience of the totally opposite kind today. Went out to a 90-something lady, who needed to go in to hospital for reasons that aren't relevant here.Her 90-something husband, who had been bombed at Dunkirk and rescued after 45 minutes in the water, served the remainder of the war in the Royal Navy, took part in the Normandy landings then worked until he retired after being demobbed tried to give me 10 for my trouble in coming out to his wife. (I refused, of course. I pointed out that he'd spent the whole of his life paying for this service. He still took some convincing).

    Why is it always the genuinely ill patients that “didn't want to bother you”???

    Oh yeah – the hems on my uniform trousers are secured with micropore (“,)

  6. I honestly don't understand what sort of a kick these people get out of hoax calling.I get a fair number of hoax calls in my voluntary work. Some of them go into great detail about alleged sexual, physical and or emotional abuse by a close family member (the clue that it is a hoax is when you hear their friends giggling away in the background). what's even more disturbing are the ones who are also, at the same time, getting obvious sexual pleasure from it (once you've heard it once you just know when it is happening).

  7. Oh, I thought it was going to be a ghost story. The owner died because she didn't call an ambulance or it didn't get there in time, and came back to haunt.

  8. hey im new to this blog and i must admit u have me totaly hooked. ive not long finished ure first book and some people are rtalking about a second one. is it out yet? if it is what is it called?realy great blog!

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