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With friends like these...

Posted Nov 21 2008 4:26pm
Night shift: Four calls; one cancelled by caller; two assisted-only; one by ambulance.

Stats: 1 DIB; 1 Hyperventilation; 1 Drug O/D

A freezing night and my car had a large nail embedded in the tyre, so I trundled around in another, older vehicle – an Astra with a bit more kick than the Zafira – until it was repaired. Unfortunately, the wrong tyre was changed and I had to wait (and trundle) until the problem was finally solved. That meant going back and forth a few times and carrying my bits and pieces from one vehicle to the other.


An 86 year-old man with severe shortness of breath (SOB) after a fairly new pacemaker had been fitted needed to go to hospital because his sats were on the floor. He was also running a temperature and had been vomiting. His wife decided to stay at home as he was taken away to recover.


Then a dodgy call at a block of flats in which the tenant, a drunken Glaswegian woman denied any knowledge of us being called for the supposed chest pain at the address. I checked the flat number with Control and they called it back but the same woman answered and she still denied calling us (funny how we had her number then). I was told to wait outside and not go near the place because it was all a bit suspicious. The flat had been in total darkness when I knocked on the door and that always makes me a little nervous – I usually step back a foot or two just in case.

The second call-back produced a male at the other end of the phone and Control told me that he’d said he was in another flat (the one next door) and that no ambulance was required. All a bit idiotic when you think about it. How would he know? So, I left the scene and left them to it.


Later on a 35 year-old man with ‘breathing problems’ turned out to be hyperventilating. He walked down the stairs of his building after his wife brought me in from the street. She windmilled me as panicking people do but the man had nothing wrong with him that a few minutes of breathing exercises wouldn’t sort out. The crew saw to that as I left.


It was a quiet night because another FRU was covering the area and my colleague had been running around all over the place by his account, so I got a bit of a cheeky rest in between calls.


So the shift ended with very little going on, with the exception of the 25 year-old drug addict who was seen and heard falling down stairs on an estate by two passers-by who happened to recognise him. They called an ambulance because he kept fainting and I arrived in the wee small hours to find them propping him up on a bench in the street.

They seemed genuinely concerned about him and insisted on staying as I checked him out. The crew was on scene fairly quickly and all I’d established so far was his name.

‘What have you taken tonight?’, I asked shortly after realising he was a street face and known drug user.

‘Lots of things’, he replied before lapsing into a floppy trance.

I woke him up and said ‘You keep passing out’.

‘That’ll be the Valium’, he informed me.

His was a familiar accent – he was from the East Coast of Scotland – probably Edinburgh and he’d travelled here in search of better times I guess.

‘So what have you taken then?’, I asked him again.

‘Heroin, crack and Valium’.

It wasn’t until we’d walked him on board the ambulance that he specified the amounts and it was clear he’d done himself no good but he was clear about not wanting to go to hospital. His biggest fear was that I’d Narc him and reverse his fun. The Valium was a different matter, though and he confessed to having taken 60mg, although he probably had a high tolerance for such doses.

His friends outside had insisted on waiting for him. In fact, he only came with us to be checked out because he was promised they would be there and would take him wherever he needed to go when we’d finished.

I know that drug addicts need a lot of money to feed their habits but what he told us in the vehicle still shocked me.

‘I need £400 a day but today was a crap day for earning, so I scored less than I usually do’.

£400 a day?! Incredible, he can’t be making that sort of money from begging, so he must be stealing or dealing…or both. I'm obviously in the wrong job!

He adamantly refused to go, despite out best advice and collapsing onto the floor of the ambulance for good measure. He had capacity and he signed the crew’s PRF, so that was that.

I went outside to tell his mates that they could take him away but they were nowhere to be seen. They’d cleared off without a word, even though they’d promised him they’d be there for him. In the end, he hopped out of the ambulance and jogged off down the road on his own.

What’s an honest drug addict got to do these days to gain friends he can trust?

Be safe.
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