The MDT flashes at us and tells us that we are now on our way to a 67 year old female complaining on constipation and a sore arm. Joe and me look at each other and say
“Constipation and a sore arm??? Doesn’t sound like an emergency to me”
We then spend the next few minutes imagining the scenario where a constipated woman can cause so much harm to her arm that she needs to dial 999.
We arrive at the address and knock on the door. The house doesnt look the most well kept house we have ever been in, and after a couple of minutes of repeat knocking, a disheveled man in his late 40`s comes to the door.
M999: “Morning Sir, did you call for an ambulance?”
He pauses for a short while with a look of confusion on his face, then it all seems to dawn on him, and he points up the stairs, telling us”Shes up there”
As we walk upstairs, I can hear a lady talking on the phone and answering various medical questions. We have obviously been so efficient, that we have arrived at the patients side, even before she has finished being triaged from our control room.
Initial impressions are that the patient is fully conscious, alert and orientated, a good colour, looks a little thin, and doesnt seem to be having any difficulty breathing or appear to be in any pain.
After a quick set of introductions, and while Joe starts taking some baseline observations, I ask what the problem is.
Helen : Ive got this pain in my elbow, like an ache, and I cant go to the toilet.
M999: Ok….. is there anything else, anything that you think has come on suddenly and you think may be serious?
Helen : No not really, just this pain.
M999: How long has it been there?
Helen : About 5 weeks now. I saw the GP last week and he said it was a muscular strain. I had the urgent care team nurses in yesterday too.
M999: And what did they say?
Helen, They said everything was alright and I should see my GP tomorrow morning.
M999: Sounds like good advice. Im not meaning to sound rude, but why have you called 999 today, if there doesn’t seem to be anything seriously wrong or apparently life threatening?
Helen: I didnt ring, he did!
Helen points to her son, Brian, the man who let us in. Walking over to him, I ask what he was so concerned about? Maybe I was missing something.
Brian : I thought she was dying!!
M999: Really??? She looks OK to me right now.
Brian : Are you f*%king serious? Look at her for F&$ks sake!!
M999: I am Brian, and she seems to be OK right now. She obviously has some problems which need looking at by a doctor, but they can wait until the surgery opens tomorrow morning. She doesn’t need to go to hospital right now. She will be fine.
Now, it appears Brian doesnt like me saying this and he goes storming off into the front room, slamming the door behind him. Joe and I exchange glances. We both know that he has had a lot to drink and is getting a bit verbally abusive, but we feel safe and we carry on. We finish our assessment of Helen, and everything checks out OK. I am happy that there is no apparent need to go dashing up to the hospital and complete the paperwork for the referral onwards to the GP the next day.
Helen remains pleasant and chatty, and is happy with the plan of action. We say our goodbyes and head off down the hallway. As we pass the front room door, I hear Brian shout
“Come here……come in here”
I open the door and walk through the door way, but remain with a clear exit between me and him (you can never be too careful)
Brian: Is she alright?
M999: Yeah, shes….
Brian: I SAID, IS SHE ALRIGHT STUPID HEAD!!
I don’t know why, but that really got my goat a bit. I have been called sooooooooo much worse than that. You name it, I have been called it (and not just from Mrs 999). Name calling and swearing really don’t bother me. However….Stupid Head!!!! That sort of took me back to childhood days, and it felt like I was in the school yard and a bully was picking on me.
M999: Brian, I think if you look at this here (pointing to my name badge), it says Mark, M…A….R…K. Not Stupid Head, OK?
M999: Well since you have been so nice and courteous to me and my colleague here, I will say my goodbyes and wish you well. Your mother knows what she needs to do now.
Joe and I get back into the ambulance and start laughing.
“Did he really just call me Stupid Head there?”