A Short Award Ceremony

…And today's winner for 'Most inappropriate use of an ambulance despite repeated mass media warnings' goes to the normally healthy man suffering from a cold for the past three days who picked up a phone, dialled '999' and asked for an ambulance, in order to get it to transport him to his GP for an appointment.

After the crew 'had a word' he decided that a taxi might be a better bet.

Rumours that if the taxi crashed en route the crew would be be suspended for not conveying the patient are, of course, unfounded.

27 thoughts on “A Short Award Ceremony”

  1. Well possibly some do it to seek attention…to my mind it seems a little ludicrous to go to the lengths of all that, to gain attention from some people who you do not know at all, if that is what they intend.Having said that many are very seriously suicidal, sometimes the overdose does not seem like it, but they are suffering from serious mental health issues, depression and so forth.

    It is the case that the help is not available as it should be, that people are labeled as attention seekers, personality disorder, when they do not fit in any box, take a wander across to anyones blog experiencing mental health issues and you will find similar accounts.

    It is well known that cup of tea is often the answer to someone in extreme suicidal thoughts, crisis teams,

    the thought being they actually secretly work for the tea makers 🙂

    Experiencing pain of deep depression suicidal thoughts and so on, no one in that place is thinking of seeking any attention but ending the pain….

    Very, very different to someone who stated here is seeking attention….though still can not get my head round it, can think of better places to go than the hospital…..it is one of the most uninviting places i can imagine to go especially sat in A & E for hours on end…….:)

    My concern is that a limited number of people may prevent people who have real problems from receiving the help and support they truly need to lead their life's to their full potential, that the term attention seekers can then be applied to anyone and everyone in those people who overdose. People with genuine problems, may be put off by the fear of being associated with the same thing.

    It is a fact that someone who is genuine can and is sometimes viewed in the wrong category, the nice guidelines state that people who self harm should be treated with the same dignity and respect as any other patient and the distress they experience should be taken into account.

    170,000 people a year attend emergency departments because they have self harmed, of those an estimated 80,000 never receive a physiological assessment or follow up,source NICE can be downloaded off their site.

    Now if people were receiving the care and support, perhaps attention seekers would/could be dealt with and not be regular and perhaps the people who genuinely need help may receive some help, i would go further and say that the percentage in those figures who are classed as receiving help was not adequate and they ended up walking away from the system.

    It took months to get an assessment, mental health is under resourced, to someone in deep distress, depression, suicidal thoughts, that is some wait……they may even appear back, not because they are attention seeking but they are so distressed, suicidal still, am sure you have experienced in A & E how difficult it can be to access mental health services?


  2. In another vein though, was working on a hospital switchboard at night to have someone ring me saying “I'm having difficulty breathing”.When I suggested to him that if he were truly having difficulty breathing he should ring for an ambulance not the hospital he declared that he didn't need an ambulance just the hospital. Surely, it's either serious enough to have the ambulance in or it isn't and he shouldn't be wasting people's time. Ringing the hospital for advice is a big no – no because we can't say anything because a) most of us aren't doctors and b) if we did say something we'd get sued when that person neglected to mention some salient detail.

    And another thing, I'm getting annoyed with people who think that ambulances are dispatched from the hospital… it's like they think ambulances are there only as a ferry service. I remember telling someone once that the crew would actually do a lot of the treatment before they get to the hospital and they wouldn't have it. Now maybe I'm misinformed, but evidently not as much as these people… I think it's time to edcuate people better


  3. Tonight we had a 25 year old male who had been to hospital this pm, been diagnosed with a chest infection, and been given Amoxycillin. He called an ambulance because he had not been cured by the ONE TABLET he had taken.

  4. This link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7790734.stm

    demonstrates the sort of calls that the ambulance services receives.

    Toothaches, broken finger nails and trying to book GP appointments are just a few of the mindless calls. Along with maternataxis and drunks and the fear of litigation if they refuse to handle a call about a runny nose, the service is not in a good state, to say the least.

    Who can cure it?

  5. So, do you think he would do that again if he was charged 2k straight from his next payslip or benefits for an inappropriate use of the 999 sysem and wasting an emergency crews time? Appealing for people to not be selfish bastards doesn't work anymore, if they aren't hit in the only places they care about – their liberty or their wallet – then they don't care.

  6. Heh. There is a cure for the man-cold*. Get one of his mates to ring him and ask if he fancies driving 30 miles to meet up for a pizza. Ding! Voice, appetite and vision all back to normal, capability to dress/shower/drive etc completely restored. Proof of the cure is thus:”Oh, but darling, are you sure you're well enough? Perhaps you shouldn't drive anywhere, I'm not convinced it's safe the state you're in…”

    “No, it's only a sniffle, I'll be fine, besides, I haven't seen [friend] in three whole days.”

    (*yes, women get it too)

  7. Beats mine: The only ambulance call I've been witness to this week was that of a schoolgirl who had an ambulance called to take her to hospital because she'd taken a (deliberate) overdose. Of 3 paracetamol. The 999 call was made by the school. Mild distress was the only psychiatric symptom.

  8. Had a debate on Livejournal this week (I know, I know, but I'm too young to know any better) about the use of maternataxies. Choice arguments such as, “But why should I pay 30 for a taxi when I can get an ambulance for free?!” and, “But it's a BABY! I can't get in a TAXI! My god!” were very popular. I have seen many pregnant women spend nine months shrieking, “I'M PREGNANT, I'M NOT ILL!” whenever some hapless chap attempts to open a door or lift a heavy box for them, yet as soon as the alien spawn is about to drop, “Oh my days! There's something IN there! And it wants to come out! Oh, I'm all a dither. Quick, call 999!”Whilst I appreciate the rapidly-approaching appearance of new life is a grand thing, we've been duplicating en masse for thousands of years. There are millions of us. Furthermore, there's a widely understood gestation period, so widely understood in fact that it's been broken down into weeks with accompanying diagrams to both confuse and discourage half the population from ever having sex again. We know the score. Unless there is the need for urgent medical attention, taxis or personal transport should be used. They've got nine months to arrange it, for crying out loud.

    On calling 999 for a cold… How long before 999 goes the way of the old 192 and splits into various directories?

    “Hello, you've reached the emergency services! Please choose from the following options so I can help direct you to the right department!

    If you have chest pain or you're not breathing and/or you could possibly be dead, press 1 now…

    If you have more than one broken limb, internal bleeding or the plague, press 2 now…

    If you've had an argument with a toaster in the bath, press 3 now…

    If you have a wet nose, sore throat or cold feet, please press 4 and hang up, we will call you back as soon as possible…

    If you are pregnant, please visit http://www.yell.com, enter your location and search for “taxis”, or use your mobile phone contacts list to contact a friend with a vehicle. Thank you for your consideration. Please visit our website for more information and to donate to our services. *Beeeep*…”

  9. I would like to tell you of a comment posted in response to an article in the Oxford Mail on line asking people to act responsibly when using A&E. This is genuine and was posted today.i)I pay my bloody taxes and if I want to go to a hospital I helped pay for and whose staff wages I help pay I bleeding well will!

    Kick the immigrants out of the country and there'd be good healthcare for everyone without this discrimination.

    I spent ages trying to write a reply emphasising the importance of using the emergency services responsibly, the meaning of the word emergency and pointing out that NHS workers also pay taxes….in the end l gave up and just wrote a one word reply….Moron

  10. He's not got it quite right. It should be go to GP to be told you've got a cold. Go home call out Doctor. Be told you've got a cold so go to A & E to be told YOU'VE GOT A COLD”To quote my husband “this country's finished!”

  11. I attended one of our regular attention seeking customers yesterday who told me she had taken an overdose of her medication cos she wanted to kill herself. . . . . She said she knew what she was doing cos she had done it before, lots of times!! When we got through to the nitty gritty & I asked her if you want to die, why did you call for an ambulance, she said”Well, after taking these tablets, I don't feel very well !!”

    For those that are worried, she wasn't in any real short term life threatening danger but we took her in anyway.

  12. hi allfriend had to wait 3.5 hours for ambulance on Saturday afternoon – hence someone else directed me to this blog while I was expressing my alarm.

    re: the man with the cold, I am curious to know what he told the operator in order to get an ambulance despatched? I am determined to come up with plans to thwart these muppets!!

    also, is it really true that “drunk and unconscious” gets priority over a broken leg and dislocated ankle?

  13. Well maybe, she feels suicidal constantly but is not actually receiving the help that she needs.It is very often the case, being attention seeking, do not really think that anyone needs to seek the attention of an ambulance crew, why would you think that?

    What on earth could be gained from seeing the ambulances services, very little, the last people who would enter your head to seek attention off, perhaps you could explain why you think anyone would just be wanting to seek attention from the ambulance and so on, sorry the reasons that it may be just do not spring to my mind, instead what does is labeling, bit tired of reading that and a bit frustrated that these people are not seen and given the help they need by the services, but instead everyone decides to call them attention seeking……very bad label, someone has to got to have something wrong to be wishing to harm themselves.

    It is a label that seems to fit to people who do not receive the help they need, a term used and it demoralizes them even further.

    Besides if you work within the profession you meet the public just as in a shop, there is no difference and you have to do the work, sometimes if you walked in someone else shoes you just maybe, maybe, see it from a different light.

    Something more should be doing done, to help and support people.

  14. Well maybe, she feels suicidal constantly but is not actually receiving the help that she needs. Or maybe she seeks attention?

    While I understand the desire to not tar everyone with the brush of 'they are only doing it for the attention' it is not outside the realms of possibility that there are indeed some people who *do* engage in behaviour in an effort to seek attention – think of it as a twisted version of the urge that Big Brother contestants have.

    I have met good and bad in everything and the automatic attack, or defence of an entirety of a group of people is rarely a good idea.

    There are people who thrive on attention just as well as there are people who seek attention for serious problems, saying all 'attention seekers' are victims is as unhelpful as saying that they are all 'silly women'.

    Individuals have different motives, it's what makes life interesting.

  15. It's simple, the calltaker says, “Do you have difficulty breathing?”The patient says, “Yes”.

    Instant Blue Light response.

    And unconscious does indeed rate higher than a broken leg or dislocated ankle. The cause of the unconsciousness doesn't make any difference. Little old Doris on the floor with a broken hip for four hours is a lower priority than the drunk 'unconscious' in the street.

    It's a government requirement unfortunately…

  16. Depending on the type of broken leg (ie any major bleeding) but often …..yes!!! An unconscious patient is given an immediatte Cat A response. A fractered limb or certainly a fractured ankle would warrent a lower priority response on the MPDS system as there is no immediatte life threatening danger. Cat a's are unconcious, serious bleeding, chest pain and/or severe respiratory distress, high mechanism of injury trauma etc

  17. Re the drunk in the street being unconscious, has it always been a government priority or is it a relatively recent thing? If I phone up and say “my friend is passed out drunk, we need an ambo” are you allowed to say: “put her in the recovery position and stop being a muppet”? Because you should be.

  18. Maybe I should have took the time to put this into the original post, This attention seeking lady was amenable, flirty ( although at about 17 stone @ 5 foot high, not attractive to me ) conscientious enough to worry about her mum not finding out about what she had done & a whole list of things that told me she didn't mean her attempt at deliberate self harm. She was treated with respect & dignity throughout but the end story is, she has wasted mine, my crew mates & the A&E's dept's time because her actions were entirely avoidable. OK she is pissed off at a mans response to her affection & chose to once again, kill herself, something she is becoming really good at cos she has attempted it so often. Her course of action is once again innapropriate & misguided by chasing 999 to fix her problems. We can't do that for her, but we are there for her picking up what the other agencies have missed. If I seemed a bit blase about this lady it's because she is another regular who wastes our time & resources by just being there for her when she rings 999. It's not entirely her fault granted but those folk who are gonna take their own lives rarely call 999 whithin seconds of their attempt. It gets a little more than frustrating to turnout to the same folk with the same call to the same address at the same time of day time after time. Try it, you will see what i mean.Totally different to the call to the heroin overdose on the 4th floor, no lift & he is in respiratory arrest. You maintain his airway & resps by opa & bag valve mask, hit him with some narcan then get told to feck off as he regains consciousness cos his 10 hit has just gone down the swanny. You just saved his life by seconds of him going over but all he is interested in is puking into his mates carpet & telling you to feck off your not needed & he is not gonna go to hospital, even if the half life of narcan is less than that of heroin.

    I do this job cos i like it, every day is different, I don't always make the right call on jobs but i am old enough to have enough life & job experience to know when someone is taking the piss out of me by being overdosed deliberately or not, unconscious or not!!

  19. Last summer a chap walked into A&E, said he had been bitten on the forearm by a wasp (or maybe a bee) an hour before. No allergy history and no signs of distress except the usual pain at site.Explained nicely that a wasp (or bee) sting was really not a case for the Emergency Services and redirected him to the nearest chemist. He said, “But I thought it might have pierced an artery!”

    You have to wonder with some people, is the presenting trauma really what they are worried about?

  20. What I dont understand: Have these people never before got a runny nose? Never in their life had a headache? Werent they ever put in their bed by their mommy because they had a cold and been told “sleep over it, tomorrow youll feel better”?

  21. “For those that are worried, she wasn't in any real short term life threatening danger but we took her in anyway”.-If I'd been doing your job she would indeed definitely have been in “real short term life threatening danger” at that point! Which is why I could not do your job. You that do all have the patience of saints.

  22. Out on my 1st practice placement over Xmas. Yesterdays shift consisted almost entirely of morons with colds/flu/chest infections. Most of them had the symptoms for a few days without bothering to do anything about it then deciding 999 was the way to go. A couple were on antibiotics for a single day before giving up on them and calling us out.

    All the while as I drove with teeth clenched, listening to the constant general broadcasts of 'high priority' calls being held because no ambulances are available. Some potentially life-threatening and probably couldn't afford the time they would have to wait; most just as pointless sounding as the one we were taking to hospital to wait in line behind other crews (our longest wait was 1hour 45mins but apparently we weren't even close to the record).

    We were all waiting because all the beds in the hospital were full; mainly full of more selfish morons who think lemsip is beneath them. So the situation snowballs keeping countless emergency crews off the road and unable to actually do what we want to be doing and helping people who need our help.

    I truly believe that if even half of these idiots with coughs & colds simply do what anyone with an ounce of common sense would do, (i.e. take an over-the-counter remedy, maybe ask the pharmacist for some advice, make an appointment with the GP if things don't improve) then there would be enough of us available to help everyone who needed us, close enough to get there in time to make a difference. We might even have the time to spend on improving our skill and patient care. Crews might not need to be worked to the point of exaustion with no breaks and over their shifts. Control staff might not have to be bombared with constant procedural changes and ridiculous pressures to shave ever more seconds off the precious ORCON times (which make not a blind bit of difference if there's no crews available to be despatched).

    Charging people for ambulances? Nice idea in theory, but I can just see the same time-wasters being exempt from the charge for various reasons (like being pregnant, on income support, etc) or simply just refusing to pay altogether. Meanwhile my dear grandmother and thousands like her lie in agony with her broken hip, already worried that she'd be a nuisance by calling 999, mercifully unaware of the low priority she would be given, now scared that she will be charged for the ambulance. Think she'd call for help, or wait on the floor till someone happens by to see her?

    Rant over. I'm gonna go phone my Nan.

  23. I agree completely that there are some really irresponsible people who abuse the ambulance service for ailments that barely warrant a trip to the pharmacy let alone an ambulance. But as a new mother, I would like to put in a word of defence for those calling ambulances during labour (and I speak as one who used our own car to get to hospital and am generally so reluctant to put a strain on the health system that I was told off by my doctor for not coming in sooner when I last saw them). We are told that we are not allowed to go into hospital until we are at least 4 cm dilated (i.e. in established labour) and I know of several people who called the hospital to ask for advice and were told that if their contractions were such that they were still able to talk, then it was too early to come into hospital. The result of this is that by the time a pregnant woman is “allowed” to go into hospital, she is likely to be in a lot of pain (so the gas and air available in an ambulance is very much needed and sitting buckled into a car for the journey likely to be extremely difficult), or, as in several cases I know, are actually very close to giving birth and it genuinely is an emergency requiring an ambulance. As I said, I didn't use an ambulance, but having read this blog, I feel a bit uncomfortable that, should I feel like I require one in any subsequent pregnancy, I am likely to feel that the ambulance staff will be thinking that I am wasting their time.Having said all that, I'm a big fan of the blog in general!

  24. I've also just finished my first placement and have to agree. I've been to a Fractured Neck of Femur who had been lying on the floor for 30 minutes as no ambulances were available as we were dealing with someone who couldn't be bothered to ring their GP.I must say some of the most useless calls I've been to have been from relatives who have been on the phone and then decided that the person they were talking to needed an ambulance. In one case the person had fallen asleep and in another they were just waiting for their GP and looked throughly confused when we turned up!

    As for people who ring up for colds they just don't seem to understand the word 'emergency'. I mean do they think we are just mobile GPs that will give them magic medicine that will make them better or that they'll get a trip into A and E for said magic medicine?

    Personally I think kids in schools should be better educated as to use of the emergency services, it may not help the current generation of timewasters but it may just help stop a new generation growing up to think that we're just a taxi service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.