Monday, October 03, 2005


Our shift started at 7am. We'd been out since 6.50am as we'd taken an early job as a favour to control as they'd received a call for a cardiac arrest just down the road from our station. I was in the process of ironing my shirt at the time, and it was only half done. No time to finish it - we've got to go. Seconds mean everything in a cardiac arrest. As it turned out, the patient wasn't in cardiac arrest, but the call had been genuine enough. He'd fallen out of bed and banged his head on the wall, knocking himself out, so we took him to hospital.

We were on our way to an elderly lady who was feeling unwell and was very weak when we were cancelled off it for a "higher priority call" - a 71 year old lady in Cardiac Arrest, 9 miles away. Now 9 miles may not seem that far to most ambulance services, but in London, it is a very significant distance indeed, when you take into consideration that it is mostly built up, and the traffic is, quite frankly, appallingly bad. Not only that, but it was in the opposite direction to where we were going.

I quickly turned the ambulance round and floored the accelerator. We tore through the traffic, most cars giving way, apart from one which almost caused me to flat-spot the tyres when he pulled out of a side-road right in front of me. (Other drivers will be the subject of a further post - prepare for much ranting!)

We made the journey in 11 minutes. We jumped out of the ambulance, grabbed our kit, and ran up the 3 flights of stairs to the flat, after having to shout at some kids to get out of our way. The door was closed, so we hammered on the door - which was opened by a 71 year old lady, who was looking very well considering she was supposed to be dead.

We made a few enquiries via our control room, and discovered that the call had been made by a child from a payphone just down the road. It was a hoax.

So for the pleasure of some idiot, we had risked our lives and the lives of other road users driving 9 miles in 11 minutes through busy London traffic, we'd scared the living daylights out of a poor lady who we'd been told was dead, and a poorly elderly lady had been deprived of an ambulance as it had been diverted off her call.

Funny? I don't think so.


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