We had an interesting job a little while ago. The discussion that was had on scene between me and my mate and the police officers who arrived to assist us, threw up a bit of a dilemma.
I was working on the ambulance with another paramedic colleague. It was my turn to attend and we were sent to a ‘concern for occupant’. The time was approximately 10pm, the roads were quiet, so it took less than three minutes to get on scene.
We were met by the patients neighbour. He informed us that he “usually, sometimes” sees Marjorie every day, but he hadn’t seen her today and all of the lights in her house were off. We could hear her dog barking away inside the house, but other than that, there was no response from either shouting her name through the letter box, or ringing the doorbell.
Marjorie’s neighbour appeared really quite concerned (and also not just a little bit under the influence of alcohol)
Shortly afterwards, the police arrived on scene and straight away said:
“Do you know who this is? She has loads of mental problems, we get called here loads, and shes an alcoholic”
Personally, I didn’t know who the patient was. I was working outside of my area that night and so wasn’t familiar with all of the regulars.
“Shes probably passed out drunk on the floor in her bedroom again” the officer said.
The police questioned the concerned neighbour and decided that due to his state of intoxication and poor history over timings and frequency that he actually saw Marjorie, that the concerns were not really founded. He contacted his supervising officer and discussed the case with him.
The police officer came over to me and stated that since it was really unclear when she was last seen, and if it was ‘only a day’ anyway, then they were not going to force entry to the house as the greatest likelihood was that she just wasn’t home.
That left me a little concerned though. Just because the patient was an alcoholic with psychiatric problems, doesn’t mean that she was ‘only drunk and asleep on the bedroom floor’. What if she had fallen and fractured her neck of femur and was going to be stuck on the floor until the following day. What if she couldn’t speak or get to the door because she was acutely short of breath or had a CVA?
If anything, her chronic alcoholism and psychiatric problems, leave her at a greater risk of something going really ‘bottoms up’! Or maybe I was just being paranoid and assuming the worst in a situation which may have a number of safe and logical explanations to it.
So the question is this:
Would you happily just leave the decision to the police (after all, its there job to decide if they should force an entry or not) or would you force the issue and try to get them to force entry to the house to check for the patient.
Feel free to leave comments as well as click on the poll.