Friday, 26 July 2013

The Voice

"88 year old male, DIB"

I was extremely tired! I'd like to say it was because I had been working really hard saving lives but I hadn't been. In fact, the reason I was tired was because I'd hit the town with fellow bloggers @jooleroo and @babberblog and they'd forced me to drink too much gin two nights previously and I still wasn't recovered. I was still feeling slightly unhinged and not back in 'work mode' when I was sent a job 9 seconds into my shift. So, not only was I tired and irritable, I felt rushed and disorganised. It's not a good combination. Time to hope the first patient is easy going and not seriously ill!

As I pulled up on scene the call downgraded to a lower priority! DAMMIT! At this time of the morning (shift change over) it was now likely I'd have to wait a while for an ambulance. I also noticed the call came from a 3rd party caller so my patient might not even know I'm coming! I grabbed my stuff and headed on up.

After negotiating entry via the remote access people, which involved a military type interrogation, followed by a Crystal Maze kind of puzzle key safe and finishing with a Da Vinci Code themed coded instructions, I made it to the flat. Far to early for all of that! I let myself in and headed to the open door. 

Inside, my patient was lying in a cot bed. He didn't appear to be struggling to breathe which was a good sign. 

"Hello sir, what's the problem today."

"He's not well." a voice said. 

I looked around, baffled as to where the voice was coming from!

"Did you hear me?" the voice said again. 

Then I saw the phone lying next to the patient on the bed.


"My uncle isn't well, he can't breathe, can you take him to hospital please?"

"I'm not the ambulance, I'm the first responder, so I'll check him over and let you know the plan when the ambulance arrives."

"No, I want to stay on the phone so I can hear what's going on."


I was miffed. It's an added pressure I didn't want or need and it felt like I was being scrutinised. 

I set about assessing him. He was alert and able to talk for himself. I was doing his obs while asking him questions on how he was feeling.

"What's his blood pressure?" said the voice.

"His blood pressure is fine."

"Right.....what is it?"

"126/84" I said and returned to talking to my patient.

"Have you been bringing anything up when you cough?"

"Yes he has" said the voice.

"I see you are being treated for a chest infection, has there been any improvement since you've been taking your medication?"

Before he could answer.....

"That's irrelevant, he's had a chest infection and it clearly needs more treatment."

"It is relevant. He's showing no signs of a chest infection, his chest is clear and is oxygen levels are normal. He seems fine to me so far."

The voice laughed.... "You haven't even checked his temperature yet!"

"Yes I have. It was normal."

"We'll you should have told me that." said the voice.

This continued for anther 10-15 minutes. I was repeatedly interrupted, questioned and argued with. Every now and again I managed to get some answers from my patient but in the main, 'the voice' did all the talking. 

Then there was a knock at the door.

"What was that?" said the voice.

I didn't answer! Oh the power! I went to let the crew in! I gave them a handover in the hallway and explained that they were on speaker phone so had to play the game!

"What was that? Is the ambulance here?"


"Right, can you take him to hospital now please."

I should probably mention now that during the handover to the crew we discussed an action plan!

"Hello there, I'm one of the paramedics on the ambulance."


"We've decided not to take your uncle to hospital. He doesn't need to go, he's expressed his wishes not to go and to be perfectly honest, he's still got 3 days of antibiotics for his cheat infection and is responding well to it. We'll refer him onto his GP so he can stay in the comfort of his own home."

I just smiled. 

"This is ridiculous. I called you to take him to hospital, now you WILL take him to hospital." said the voice.

"Sir, would you like to go to hospital?" 

"No, I want to stay here."

"Right, as your uncle is refusing hospital, we will be leaving him here."

"What is your...... Our patient picked up the phone and cancelled the call.

*sighs of relief all round*

We filled out paperwork which the patient signed and the crew referred him to the GP. I went back to my car in a foul mood. 

Why are some people so objectionable?! What do they think will achieved be being so rude?! I fully appreciate relatives being worried and sometimes worry becomes overbearing. However, I think a situation like this crosses the line and prevents us from doing our job. Do you agree? Am I overreacting?! Should I blame @jooleroo and @babberblog or would anyone have been grumpy in this situation? Discuss....


  1. Damn, talk about a back seat driver!! I am still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor at this one! :0

  2. I'd have tripped over the phone cable.. Accidentally of course...

  3. the listener would not have even got 10-15 minutes with me. the phone would have been straight down

  4. Dear God: the arrogance & ignorance of some people. It's bad enough when the reli/worried neighbour pulls that stunt, but I've never had this
    Keep blogging, the best ambo blog by far, & strikes a chord with me every time. one. I hope they were calling from some really expensive place.

  5. You were totally entitled to be grumpy.

  6. I'm amazed you resisted accidentally cutting the voice off

  7. "I'm sorry, but you are distracting me. I cannot ley you endanger my patient. Goodbye for now. Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr..."


  8. I think the phone would have accidentally been disconnected. Sorry, it's the trouble with these poorly maintained lines, you'll just have to take it up with your government representative.

  9. Crossing the line doesn't even start to cover it! If you can't be arsed to come and see how your relative is then don't have the audacity to screech down the phone. I'm a vet nurse and have just spent a very frustrating 20 minutes listening to a man slaging off my colleague, me, the post system, the weather all aided and abetted by the intermittent squawking from his wife in the background of "you tell her" and "I think" - if she had something to say then just bloody say it. Rant over.................................

    1. I'm a district nurse. Just recently had very much the same thing. called out to a "blocked catheter". On arrival patient in an armchair, catheter flowing, but had bypassed overnight. Young relly present said they wanted the catheter changed. explained that it is not good practice to change catheters, other than routinely, without very good cause, ie blockage, because of infection risk. Young relly disappears; within two minutes, patient's daughter on phone, and I'm going through whole explaination again. Still being asked to change catheter; explained that I would do a washout and change catheter if this was unsuccessful, (though why it should be when catheter flowing, I don't know). Big D almost telling me that we ought to change catheter more frequently, (see above explaination). Finally manage to put phone down, call young relly to help me get patient on to bed, after fetching something to put on top of mattress, preform washout, get YR back to help me get patient back into chair, advise about bowel care, (needed - possible cause of bypass), fluid intake, complete documentation. Having spent about an hour, (including travel) with this patient, I then set off to see the ten patients remaining on my list.

  10. I'd have put the phone down quite early - you don't know who the hell is on the other end of it. Patient confidentiality and all that.

    BTW, I like your blog - you tell it like it is. Taxpayers should know how their money is being spent in their name, and what the reality of ambulance work is.

    Best wishes


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