Sunday 12 January 2014

24 - Season 3: Episode 4

The following takes place between 03:26am and 12:00pm


Despite that sudden burst of energy that the RTC had yielded, 03:00 in the morning is a friend to no one. As quick as the energy and invigoration arrived, it was gone again, leaving two, very sorry looking individuals left slumped in the cab of an ambulance. I could feel myself slipping into that place between being awake and being asleep, where your dream kind of starts but you eyes are still kind of open. The piercing noise of the MDT soon erred me towards my eyes kind of being open.


“21 year old female, chest pain. From NHS 111”

“On a scale of 0-10, 10 being central crushing chest pain, pouring with sweat, ashen in appearance and an impending sense of doom, and 0 being……..whatever.”

“ A 1. Panic attack. Fully recovered. Said the words chest pain. Likely car and ambulance.”

Off we went. The conversation wasn’t as bubbly as it had been. We were both staring at the road ahead, struggling to keep our keeps open. I did however summon the energy to make a joke about me not wanting to drive any more! 

When we pulled up on scene, as predicted there was a car there. We took a walk, similar to that of a zombie up the garden path and into the open door. Sitting on the sofa in the living room was our patient. She looked perfectly happy, not in any pain, not hyperventilating. The handover from the FRU went something a little like this……

“Hi guys, this young lady thinks she may have had a panic attack this morning. It has fully resolved now and she has no symptoms. She called NHS111 for advise on medication and they insisted on sending an ambulance because she said that during the panic attack they was tightness in her chest whilst breathing. Because of the ‘chest pain’ they said she had to go to hospital. She told them she didn’t want an ambulance and here we are!”

*little high-5 behind our backs*

Well, this going to be simple! All her OBs were completely fine, as you’d expect them to be and her ECG also resembled the perfect heart of a 21 year old. Needless to say, we did our paperwork and left! 

As you can see, NHS 111 causes a monumental waste of resources on an hourly basis. It’s not the people who work there’s fault. They follow a computer and the computer tells them what to do. When the computer says jump, it also tells them how high. Or in this case, it told them an FRU and an ambulance would be needed to deal with a 21 year old female who had had a panic and din’t want to be seen. 

Just for the record….. 21 YEAR OLD FEMALE DON’T HAVE HEART ATTACKS. OK, so maybe one did once because of having other medical problems and all the risk factors one could have, but surely this doesn’t mean that for ever more any 21 year old with pain in or near their chest, jaw or arms is having a heart attack?! Seriously! 

Anyway, off job time! 


Luckily a job came down pretty much straight away. Well, I say luckily….I hadn’t the patient yet!

“48 year old male, chest pain, ?intoxicated. At bus stop.”

“On a scale of 0-10, 10 being as blind drunk as they come, vomiting, urinating and requiring carrying, 0 being sober as a judge, how intoxicated is he?”

“6. Drunk, probably an alcoholic, the smell will make your eyes water, but sober enough to answer questions, walk and swear at me.”

My crew mate chuckled. It was knowing chuckle! Mainly because she knew I’d be correct! Social drinkers tend to be drunker and are normally scooped up and hospitalised by 3am. Angry, smelling alcoholics tend to be perms-drunk and therefor somewhat more capable of being encouraged to walk. They are generally much more abusive and tend to sit on benches or at bus stops which are near the 24/7 off-licences! Call me sceptical but this particular bus stop was right outside a 24/7 ‘Food and Wine’! Finally. he was 48. Generally 48 year olds don’t get blind drunk and call themselves ambulances at this time of the morning! The binge drinkers are the young ones, the alcoholics are the old ones. Normally! I may be proved completely wrong. 

I wasn’t. 

Sitting at the bus stop was a regular patient of mine. A vile, abusive drunk who calls an ambulance because he lives near the hospital. I was correct on every single count.

*little high-5 behind our backs*

“What’s the problem today Sir?”

“I’ve got fucking chest pain, I already told ‘em that.”

“Well you hadn’t told me that. How long have you had the pain?”

“Stop asking me fucking questions and just take me to hospital.”

“If you have chest pain, we need to do your ECG and check you over.”

“I don’t want one, just take me to fucking hospital.”

This could work one of two ways. I could say exactly what I was thinking about his abuse of the service for a lift home, probably wind him up further and end up with him being arrested, or I could open the ambulance door, let him on, drive to the hospital and let him run off to his house. There would be no winners for doing the right thing, but at least by giving into his whim, we’d be off on time. You could try and argue the morality or this with me, and tell me it just encourages that behaviour, and you're probably right. But at 5am, I am right. The end!

Off we went, conversation was hardly flowing and all inane questions were responded to with a battery of swearing. Sure enough, the back door opened, he staggered out, and wondered off down the road. Paperwork done, slurp of coffee and we were done. Finito. Fine. Time for bed! 


Free from the risk of another job we begun driving back to station. I took the opportunity to double check my rota for tonight's shift. Doing so much overtime means it’s easy to forgot where and when you were working. I had booked a late shift somewhere which would mean a relatively short turn around but it was my choice so I couldn’t moan…….

12:00!!! 12:00!!! I had mad the ultimate shift fail! I booked overtime thinking I was in at 18:00 but no! I was due in at 12:00 on a core shift, not overtime! I was due back in work for a 12 hour shift in just over 6 hours! Factor in travel, eating and showering time and I’m left with no more than 3 hours sleep. I felt sick. I had that pitted feeling in my stomach. My crew mate simply laughed, out loud, in my face! What could I do?! It was no ones fault but my own. I couldn’t change or cancel my core shift at short notice because I’d done overtime the night before. I’d just have to suck it up! 

We got back on station and I rushed everything away and headed off on my bike! 


I finally got into bed. Needless to say I laid away for ages, panicking about having to be up in a few short hours! I set my alarm for the last minute possible but that didn’t alleviate my fears!


THAT NOISE! Urrrrrgggghhh! I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. Nothing could console me. I was a wreck! I did everything as quick as I could, no time to make lunch and dinner though! Today was going to be a McFried Kingway kind of day! 


I arrived at work. Here we go again.



  1. Regards your drunk, was there an option to take him to another hospital in the opposite direction to home.

  2. Regards your drunk, was there an option to take him to another hospital in the opposite direction to home.

  3. love your blogs and can relate to them because I work in health care. obviously do not want to say more than that. you say what we in emergency care are thinking. Thankyou for airing our frustrations!

  4. Good to see you back writing regularly. Love your 24 pieces - you should screenwrite your own show. :o) Hope 2014 works out well for you.

  5. Love your blog... I am a police officer and can certainly relate to everything you say especially about water fairies...


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