Posted by: medicblog999 | March 21, 2009

Why, oh why, oh why!!

keysHere’s a quick one for you.

I wonder if this is a UK thing or if it is truly international. I have a feeling that it is experienced by frustrated EMS/Fire/Police services world wide.

Why is it that after someone has rang 999 (911 or your own countries emergency number) and asked for some emergency assistance, that by the time we arrive, whether it be in 3 mins or 20mins, they still seem unprepared and surprised by our arrival. I hear a frantic

“just a minute!!!” 

shout from behind the door, then a hurried scramble around looking for the keys to unlock the door and let me in.

Surely, if they have called for emergency help, they would think to unlock the door, or at least have the keys handy and in the lock.

Now, before anyone comments on the stress involved in the situation and how it may not be the first thing on the patients/families mind, this apparent phenomenon, in my experience, is only really seen with the callers who don’t actually have an emergent need.

To the contrary, if a patient has suffered a cardiac arrest or has a significant life threatening event, as long as someone else is present in the house, the door will be wide open so we can quickly gain access to the patient.

Not a big deal, just a pet hate!!

How about where you are?



  1. People here have a horrible habit of calling 911 from their perch on the top floor of whatever building they called from, then waiting for the increasingly old and tired EMT to trudge to the top of the stairs so they can get their coat and trudge behind the EMT back down the stairs for a ride to the ER.

    *Disclaimer…I have no problem with people who call from the top floor with actual emergencies, but those calls are few.

    • Or even, when you are being escorted up the stairs by a completely fit relative who is watching you struggle with all of your kit bags, 02, lifepak 12 and patient report form, without so much as an offer of help(Think I will post a photo next week showing the amount of kit I have to take into a house when working on the rapid response car)

  2. Michael, it is well established fact that you will never respond to the ground floor or to the first door from the elevator. I can find any apartment on a call by simply going to the farthest point from the rig. Never fails.

    999, same thing here my friend.


  3. One of my pet hates…rocking up to an address on a 999 blues & twos job…kept waiting at the door…for it to be opened by lady/gent putting on overcoat and locking the door behind them…then walking off in the direction of the ambulance!…without them saying why they dialled 999!

    I usually ask if they have rung the wrong number as by their actions it appears that they were expecting a taxi!

    Some people are just plain thick/stupid/arrogant (delete as appropiate).

  4. I’m only a Community First Responder, but I’ve given up ringing doorbells (except where there is remote access). Ringing the bell seems to provoke an “OK, just a minute” response, whereas three loud thumps on the door and a shout of “Ambulance Service” tends to concentrate minds a bit.

  5. I was forced to call for an ambulance on Saturday night. I felt absolutely terrible about it. He has a kidney infection but the poor guy picked up the winter vomiting bug on top of it. He couldn’t keep down even water and he was vomiting nearly continuously, as well as sweating and having terrible diarrhea.

    I would have driven him if I could, but I don’t know how to drive. We live miles away from our parents (a 40 minute drive), the wait on the taxi was 3hrs plus unless we could get to the pick up point with the hackney carriages (a 20 minute walk away). NHS Direct were pretty much yelling “A+E NOW!” into my ear and scaring me senseless.

    I did the only thing I could do. I called an ambulance.

    I had everything ready in the 7 or 8 minutes it took the ambulance to get there. My fiance had his shoes on, he was sat on the stairs, just inside my front door clutching a bucket and being terribly ill. I had coats, my bag with his medication in, mobile phone, keys. The door was unlocked but as soon as the ambulance pulled up, I was out the door, fiance in tow. We live on a very narrow road and I didn’t want to hold up traffic.

    I felt like we were abusing the ambulance service, he wasn’t in a life or death situation, but we honestly had no other option. By the time it was there, we were ready and out the door.

    Then, my partner lost conciousness in the ambulance. I was so, so very thankful that they were there.

    • Hi Roxanne,
      Thanks for joining the conversation!
      Believe me, as someone who has had the noro virus (winter vomiting bug) twice in the last year, I know how rough he will have felt.
      There is always a place for patients and families who have exhausted all other options and have no means to get to hospital. I would have thought of your call as a genuine call.
      I hope he recovered quickly.
      (I can still vividly remember crawling across the front room floor, crying out after Mrs Medic999 who was about to leave for work:
      “Please dont go!! Dont leave me with the kids!!!”

  6. Hi, AL again. What I find a sure sign of someone taking the urine is those who just happen to ‘fall’ and can’t move. They conveniently fall next to their telephone and tv control. By way of some miracle they also manage to use their hugely extending arms to open the door for our arrival.

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