Our Emergency Service

For some reason yesterday morning, i looked out on my sunlit garden and thought for no reason,that when we face a new day we have no idea what the day will bring.

I was soon to find out.

It was an ordinary and sunny day,my neighbour who has just come out of the hospital after surgery ,phoned to say that she was home and would I like to come and have coffee with her, I duly agreed and we spent a very pleasant half an hour and I came back,picked up my lap top and and sat in my sun drenched conservatory and was chatting to my husband who was reading the Telegraph and telling me about this luxury hotel in Turkey and how well the economy of that country is doing.

Then he suddenly put the paper down,and said for no no reason that “I think I will go and have a look in loft in the old papers,if I can find your old passport ,the Indian embassy are asking for”. I have said to him before and repeated that am not bothered to get a long term visa and will  get a tourist visa if and when we decide to go.

I will have a look anyway, he said.

Do be careful I said,as he has not been well recently, has gone through chemotherapy and though now quite stable on some new tablets, we remain cautious .

He reassured me and went upstairs. A few minutes later I heard a series of huge crashes, I first thought he is throwing some paper filled boxes from the loft, but I ran inside and he was sitting at the bottom of the stairs,and just said” I slipped”, and took me a few seconds to realise that the top of his head was cut and he was bleeding. And that the loft ladder has somehow got detached from its hatch door , and he has obviously fallen from the top and come tumbling down the stairs ,cutting his head in the process.

I called a neighbour, who came and held a cold compress to his bleeding head,there was no way I could take him to casualty,firstly I was not sure if he has fallen from the loft,or from the top of the stairs and given the fact that his bones have affected and are brittle,i could not take the chance of moving him.

I dialled 999..

Now, I am a registered nurse of many years experience, so I know what is the vital information about a patients condition and how it should be relayed. I explained ,giving a brief history of his medical condition,the medication and the present condition. That is fine the person said,but we have  to ask a series of questions before we can send an ambulance.

There followed very long and detailed questions about, can I touch his back and chest and does it feel warm or cold,I had already told them that he was sweaty, getting clammy and his pulse was erratic. Nonetheless the questions continued, inane and meaningless,which took ten minutes or it felt like it,and then I was told that the ambulance will be sixty minutes,but if I have concern then I can ring again and it will be expediated.

Meanwhile the neighbour and I were getting concerned, as by now I think my husband was in shock. So I rang again,and guess what,there was no reference to my previous call, and was told that I will have to go through the series of questions again, in order to prioritise the ambulance . When I complained that this was wasting time, I was told that this will not ‘delay the dispatch of the ambulance’.

Call me stupid ,but if the questioning does not affect the dispatching of the ambulance, why go through them when the person calling is anxious, in pain or in danger??

If as they say they have to”re-triage” hence the questions,then why tell us that “this questioning does not affect how quickly the ambulance will be dispatched”????

This is the first time (and I hope) the last when I have dialled 999,and the experience was appalling. I am a trained health care worker who can assess and cope with such conditions and I did, I dread to think what a distressed ,elderly spouse will cope? How will a distressed mother will put up with these inane questions,and trust me they are irrelevant and pointless and repetitious.

After spending a whole day in A&E , and many tests and scans we were told that there nothing was broken,the scan was normal and the only damage was a broken left thumb. Which is now in plaster.

I have known that hospital  so well, have spent all my woking life there,my children were born there, I was the hospital governor ,so I know how good it is, so many staff members came and said hello, and we were treated with kindness and friendship,I could not fault it,but 999 and the ambulance service?

That is another story!

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