Somewhere in the depths of North London, a young man falls over and injures his leg. He thinks it might be broken. He hobbles to the telephone and dials the number of his local taxi firm. Yes, that’s a real taxi, not one of our Big White ones. He then limps outside to wait for the taxi. Ten minutes later, it arrives, and he eases himself into the back seat.

“Where to?” asks the cab driver, starting the engine and pulling off.

“North Middlesex Hospital, please,” says the man. “The A+E department. I think I’ve broken my leg!”

“Oh my god!” says the taxi driver. “You can’t be getting in taxis with a broken leg. Hold on a minute!”

He drives to the firm’s headquarters and uses their phone to dial 999, explaining that he has a man with a broken leg in his taxi asking to be taken to the hospital. He gets through to me.

“Erm,” I said, hating to state the bleeding obvious. “He’s got a broken leg, and he’s in your taxi asking to be taken to the hospital. Why don’t you take him there? If we send an ambulance, we’re just going to have to take him out of the taxi, which will mean moving him around, and if someone has a broken bone you’re supposed to move them as little as possible.”

“Look mate!” said the taxi driver gruffly. “He’s got a broken leg, he’s ENTITLED to an ambulance! Stop trying to get out of sending him one!”

“I’m quite happy to send an ambulance,” I said (this was a lie), “it’s just that if a patient with a broken leg in a car, it makes more sense and is better for the patient to drive him to the hospital”.

“Right!” said the taxi driver, and left the phone. In the background I could hear muffled voices and a young man cursing in pain. It sounded rather like he was being dragged out of the back of the taxi. The taxi driver returned.

“We’ve got him out!” he said triumphantly. “Now send us an ambulance!” *click*

Published Jul 17, 2006 - 43 Comments and counting

43 Comments on “Prize For Stupidity”
  1. Si Says:

    You can only laugh at that.

  2. Mark Myers Says:

    I just felt sorry for the patient! Alright, broken legs are small fry in ambulance terms but they are bloody painful and he was doing the right thing by getting a taxi, only to be dragged out by that idiot driver!

  3. caramaena Says:

    Oh good grief! That poor guy.

  4. Dave Goodman Says:

    My goodness, you couldn’t make it up.

    What an idiot. Doing himself out of a fare too. Bizarre.

  5. Hugh Macdonald Says:

    I just hope someone at your end pointed out to the patient that the cab driver/company were the idiots, and that he was the one with all the sense in that situation…..

  6. Stuart Moore Says:

    I wonder if it’s worth you trying to get stories like this in the local newspaper (assuming you can obtain patient consent) – it might help educate people on what they should (and shouldn’t) use the ambulance for.

  7. domino Says:

    I hope the broken leg dude sues the taxi company for exacerbating his injury. Mind, I don’t think it would work. The taxi people would probably scratch their heads at the sheer ingratitude of broken leg dude…

    Stuart, I think that would have the effect of getting the Daily Mail *spit* et al wound up about people with broken limbs being told to get taxis instead…

    /no faith in humanity today

  8. rudestlink Says:

    Couldn’t you stick a note on the file stating something like “patient assulted by taxi driver”

  9. Batsgirl Says:

    is it possible to educate taxi firms about stuff like this?

  10. Tom Says:

    What a cock – some people just wont listen.

  11. Bill Sticker Says:

    I hope the injured guy sued the Taxi Driver for assault and personal injury.

    Regards

    Bill

  12. Dave M Says:

    i bet the taxi driver chared him for the trip

  13. Seanna Says:

    haha, That’s the funniest crap I’ve heard all day. The poor guy.

  14. Mark Says:

    I can’t believe that the Taxi driver had the audacity to do that. He needs to be told he was doing wrong.

    I can only feel for the poor guy with the broken leg.

  15. Ellie Says:

    Probably the one time somebody does the right thing, and the taxi guy messes it up! Amazing!

  16. Spike Says:

    Dear God. Taxi driver guy is clearly related in some strange and unnatural way to ingrown toenail guy. Both utterly barmy.

  17. Clarcat Says:

    Reminds me of when I was working as an ED nurse in Australia. Taxi brought in chap who’d got in his cab and promptly had a respiratory arrest (turned out to be heroin OD). We’re all in the middle of doing our lifesaving thing when cab driver wanders into resuscitation room asking who will pay his fare . . . And the unconscious and obviously head-injured guy brought in early one Sunday morning by his mates. They claimed he only had a dislocated shoulder. Turned out to have a fractured skull. Apparently he suffered from recurrent dislocated shoulder and was at a party the previous night when it ‘popped out’ again. Rather than leave the party he asked his mates to knock him out and ‘pop it’ back in position. They duly obliged by hitting him over the head with a cricket bat . . . Crass stupidity knows no geographical boundaries!

  18. Rob Says:

    OH MY GOD!!!

    I hope the guy goes after the taxi firm and sues them, talk about further complications, do they not realise moving a patient further causes (probably) more damage……and that poor guy, obviously not wanting to be too much trouble, gets all that as thanks…PIGS!!,. idiots..jesus

  19. Nigel Says:

    If a member of the public (ie your casualty) has gone to hospital from the taxi firms premises then they need to complete a RIDDOR report to the HSE within a few days. If they don’t file the report its typically a £5,000 fine.
    You could mention it to the taxi firm, or wait a week and ring the HSE..

  20. quixote Says:

    Nigel, I like your style. But you’re too kind. Definitely wait a week and then phone HSE.

  21. Eric Says:

    This is such a perfect story. Note to self: when in London, do not take a taxi to hospital; hitchhike instead!

  22. Tom Says:

    Was it a minicab? I guess so if he returned to a ‘base.’ I can’t help but think a black cab would have just flawed it to the nearest A and E ?

  23. Juli Says:

    What an idiot. Can’t help but wonder if this is a typical case of the new British complaint ‘don’t want to get involved’. It’s the same reason why people don’t help when little old ladies fall over in the street: ‘none of my business’. Actually he’s not the first I’ve heard of doing something like this – a mate of mine told me about her sister who, when in labour with her first baby, rang a taxi to take her to the hospital. When she told the man on the other end of the phone where the taxi was going to he said ‘we’re not an ambulance service, you want 999′. Ok, so Tom Reynolds and his workmates hate doing maternataxi, and you hate taking the calls, but what’s a mum-to-be to do when faced with a response like that?!

  24. Spikey Says:

    WTF !!!!

  25. Claire Says:

    Agree re maternataxi. I’ve got a client at the mo who lives on a rough estate and the cabs won’t go on there; her husband has just left her and she may well have nobody who can drive her to hospital when she goes into labour. I’ve told her to call me first and then if we decide to telephone triage her and bring her in she is to call an ambulance because she had her first baby quickly and I don’t want her having a baby on her own for the sake of scrabbling about to find someone to bring her to hospital.

  26. Barry Salter Says:

    Being from the area in question (if it was actually Edmonton), it beggars belief as to why the guy called a cab when there’s an ambulance station just around the corner (pop N18 1NJ into your favourite map site and you’ll see).

    If the CLI for the firm in question was logged, it might be worth doing a search on the PCO site to see what company it was (if not known) and registering a formal complaint against them on the patient’s behalf.

    Ho hum…

  27. Mark Myers Says:

    Claire – in that circumstance, I’d personally prefer it if you arranged the ambulance for her. Not that it makes any difference to the triage code, but we’d know there was a good reason for her to be travelling by ambulance if a midwife called, and wouldn’t feel resentful for “wasting” an ambulance on a maternity.

    Juli – yes, I’ve had some calls from mothers-to-be who have found certain taxi firms refuse to take heavily pregnant women too. I think these taxi firms are idiots. If you are a pregnant woman, I’d advise you check with your local cab firm well before the due date to make sure they are not idiots too.

    Barry – it wasn’t really Edmonton :-) I don’t see why proximity of ambulance station should be a factor as to whether you call an ambulance, though. If you can get in a cab with no adverse effects, you don’t need an ambulance. End of story! I should add, though, that I think a suspected broken leg is a perfectly valid (though low priority) reason to call an ambulance. My point was that once the patient was in a taxi, calling an ambulance was a stupid thing to do.

  28. Spike Says:

    What Quixote said.

  29. Travis Franklin Says:

    That is the funniest thing I’ve read all night (and i’ve been surfing comedy sites)

    Thanks for the laugh

    Defib

    :-P

  30. Sam Says:

    Re cabbies not taking labouring women to hospital:

    1. Does the cabbie’s liability insurance cover this event? It may be that the insurance company is the idiot here.

    2. Cabbies don’t like taking drunks because they don’t want to clean the vomit out of their car. Maybe then don’t want our woman’s waters to break in the back either.

  31. Claire Says:

    Thanks for that- I’ll possibly be doing that then when she goes into labour. Actually I have never had a problem with my women because they don’t tend to call ambulances unless I tell them to and I haven’t made a bad call yet (always BBA or the crew catch in the ambulance!)

    Cxx

  32. sandra Says:

    What an idiot. It’s a bit like people who do not want to get involved. They call 999 and then try to get off the phone saying they have to leave the scene and the patient on his own, now that they have done their “civil duty”. In France, you can get fined or imprisoned for “non assistance of a person in danger”. It may only be a broken leg, but the guy is still in great physical discomfort, and obviously didn’t want to waste an ambulance. What was his problem?

  33. nert Says:

    Okay, yes, taxi driver an inconsiderate idiot, however, I do quite a bit of work for St Johns (design) but they let me go on First Aid courses for nothing. Strict warning about likelihood of being sued if you assist someone in the street and it goes wrong… I think we’ve finally turned into America.

  34. Justajob Says:

    Never talk to taxi drivers, it only encourages them; just tell them where you are going and shut up. Or in this case moan quietly.

  35. Harry Says:

    I fractured my ankle five years ago, falling down the stairwell in my block of flats. I called a taxi to take me to hospital, which duly arrived and transported me. I got X-rayed and bandaged up and then sent on my merry way, to find my own way home. I hobbled out of A&E and into another taxi. That’s all okay. The taxi deposited me home and I hobbled into the stairwell: it was only then that I realised I had no hope of actually getting up the stairs. I had requested a crutch back at the hospital — coincidentally, the North Middx — but was told that my small fracture didn’t warrant one; and besides, I clearly still had the capability of hobbling. Fortunately a neighbour saw my plight and came to my rescue: I spent the next five weeks with her loaned broom upturned under my armpit.

  36. Noo Says:

    I understand there’s a widespread policy for taxi drivers to refuse A&E runs in order to avoid litigation in the event they unwittingly make a situation worse. I’d hope that the majority of them use their common sense, but its a shame that people litigate so readily when it has the effect of discouraging people from being helpful citizens.

  37. Bob Clarke Says:

    There was another story I heard from a Polcie Officer, and this quite true. They used to have an old geezer who dialled ’999′ regularly for the Police, Fire or Ambulance to come to his house to change the channel on his TV. There was nothing wrong with this bloke, he just was too lazy to get up and walk a few feet to do it himself. He insisted that ‘As a Taxpayer, I am entitled to call whoever I want’.
    It was pointed out to this bloke that he was on Benefits and did not pay any taxes. Nobody could make him see sense, so the next time he dialled ’999′ , there was a ‘rufusal’ to attend. Now, would this be allowed to happen in todays ‘PC’ climate, and does anybody know of similar cases?

  38. Bob Clarke Says:

    Which brings me to another true event. Back in the 1960s when I was living in Belgium. If a motorist came accross and injured person on the roadside, or anyone for that matter came accross an injured party, then called the ambulance service. The person who made the emergency call could be held legally liable for the medical bills of the injured party. So it was often the case if someone was found lying injured on the sidewalk or in the road, people would drive past or walk past and ignore the injured party, as they could incur ruinous medical bills of the acted the ‘Good Samaritan’.
    I also heard of a case when one driver found an injured cyclist lying in the road. He stopped his car, got out, and dragged the unconcious cyclist to the side of the road and threw him in a ditch, as he was blocking the road.

    I dont know what the situation is now that most European Countries are not part of the EU. Certainly abck in the 1960s, the EU did not exist as an entity.

  39. greenbadge Says:

    why did’nt the leg guy ring ’999′ first of all? why a taxi? I bet it was a miniscab anyway? You dont get black cabs on the phone without an account. sounds like bollox to me

  40. greenbadge Says:

    reading this again it was definately a scab “he drove to the firms headquarters”….. Black cabbies are ALL self employed and not employed by “firms”. The radio circuits only dispatch work to subscribing cabbiies and they dispatch the work to the nearest cab (by satellite usually) . the leg guy rang “his local” taxi firm and there NO black cab circuits near this hospital, there are only two radio circuits in north london “radio taxis” in finsbury park and “comcab” in westbourne park. I do wish people would’nt confuse the private hire (scabs) and the pukka trade (black cabs). It still sounds like bollox though :-)

  41. Mark Myers Says:

    1) I guess he didn’t ring 999 because it wasn’t a life threatening emergency. He wouldn’t be *wrong* to ring 999 for a broken leg, but maybe he thought other people needed the ambulances more?

    2) Yes, it was a minicab and not a black cab.

    3) It wasn’t actually the North Middlesex he was going to – I change all the locations for reasons of confidentiality.

  42. Norton 360 3.0 Says:

    Incredible, how can anyone be so dumb?

  43. Steve Says:

    In Southampton some of the cabs invite you to ring 999 for a taxi….
    http://jo808.wordpress.com/2010/10/28/dial-999-fo

    Nee Naw
    Nee Naw was a blog about life in the London Ambulance Service control room. It was written by Suzi Brent from 2005 to 2010. The blog is no longer being updated, but the archives will remain here.
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