We get loads of these calls. Hundreds. The story goes, a helpful passerby has seen someone lying (NOT “laying”, please dear call takers) by the roadside, has not wanted to get up close to them, has rung us and has been unable to verify if the patient is conscious or breathing, and thus we have to treat them as if they are in cardiac arrest until proven otherwise. 99.9% of the time, not only are these patients not dead, they are not even ill. Some of them are drunk and a lot of them are merely homeless people sleeping. They rarely take kindly to having an ambulance crew turn up and prod them, and us control bods are similarly unimpressed that these calls have to take precedence over strokes and fits and broken legs.

So when we got the following ten minutes from the end of the shift:

Male lying at side of road, described as possibly deceased, umbrella over head, ? blood on clothes. Life status questionable, category Red 1.

I groaned inwardly and felt really guilty about sending that poor ambulance crew out in the driving rain and making them at least half an hour late for the end of their shift all because someone had picked an unusual place to have a kip…

… Well, I woke up this afternoon and found a text from one of my colleagues. Mr Life Status Questionable was actually DEAD! Very dead, in fact! So I must remember in future that just occasionally, the public are right to call these things in…

Published Aug 12, 2008 - 11 Comments and counting

11 Comments on “Life Status Questionable”
  1. Steve Says:

    As a wildlife carer, it’s not unusual to get called out to check on a report of a dead kangaroo or possum that someone is concerned may have a joey in the pouch. Quite often, the lump the caller saw and thought might be the joey turns out to be what makes the animal a male, not a female.

  2. Dave Says:

    And just how do you know they aren’t laying – maybe overdid the Viagra??? :-)

  3. Dave Says:

    And just how do you know they aren’t laying – maybe overdid the Viagra??? :-)

  4. Stan Says:

    Why does someone who is “very dead” need an ambulance?

  5. Mark Myers Says:

    Firstly cos it needs a paramedic to “pronounce life extinct”, secondly cos we didn’t even know that he was “very dead” until we got there and we don’t trust members of the public to know the difference between dead, very dead, sick and perfectly okay!

  6. samtyler Says:

    My mate had one of these the other morning, bloke lying in garden possibly dead. A few units of old bill go down, crikey, he’s actually dead! Poor bloke had been having a heart attack and staggered out for help while dialling 999, never managed to hit the call button before dying in his front garden. The phone in his hand had 3 9s on the display.

    Felt for him

  7. John Robertson Says:

    We don’t seem to get ‘life status questionable’ codes quite so much around here any more. That last two I have been two have both been dead – one was hanging…

  8. Bill Jackson Says:

    Preventative Senior Health Care: Helping you to stay younger longer
    By 2030,

    it is estimated that there will be over 70 million senior citizens. That is approximately one in five Americans. Considering that as we age, we become more prone to illness and injury, it can be expected that there will be a great demand placed on the health care system. Whether you or a loved one is entering the latter years of life, it is important that preventative health care is part of your routine. By simply being proactive and making healthy choices, you can stay younger longer and enjoy your golden years.

    It has been proven that many of the diseases that cause the majority of injuries, disabilities, and deaths in seniors can be avoided by good health care decisions and a healthy lifestyle. It is imperative that seniors make sure they get the appropriate screening and exams for known killers like cancer and diabetes as these simple tests save lives. It is also important that seniors take care of their bodies by exercising and eating right. Taking these steps will dramatically enhance their quality of life.

    As the senior population increases, the need for senior health care providers will increase as well. Even with the best preventative care, most seniors will need the services of an assisted living facility, nursing home, or home health provider. When you find that this is true for you or a loved one, contact Home Health Senior Care to find out more about your options. We are here to help you with all of your senior health care needs!
    Home Health Senior Care

  9. Bill Jackson Says:

    Preventative Senior Health Care: Helping you to stay younger longer
    By 2030,

    it is estimated that there will be over 70 million senior citizens. That is approximately one in five Americans. Considering that as we age, we become more prone to illness and injury, it can be expected that there will be a great demand placed on the health care system. Whether you or a loved one is entering the latter years of life, it is important that preventative health care is part of your routine. By simply being proactive and making healthy choices, you can stay younger longer and enjoy your golden years.

    It has been proven that many of the diseases that cause the majority of injuries, disabilities, and deaths in seniors can be avoided by good health care decisions and a healthy lifestyle. It is imperative that seniors make sure they get the appropriate screening and exams for known killers like cancer and diabetes as these simple tests save lives. It is also important that seniors take care of their bodies by exercising and eating right. Taking these steps will dramatically enhance their quality of life.

    As the senior population increases, the need for senior health care providers will increase as well. Even with the best preventative care, most seniors will need the services of an assisted living facility, nursing home, or home health provider. When you find that this is true for you or a loved one, contact Home Health Senior Care to find out more about your options. We are here to help you with all of your senior health care needs!
    Home Health Senior Care

  10. Nik Says:

    Or you could have one like we had down in the South West (before I started in control) where when the caller was asked how he knew the pt was dead. The caller stated in a matter of fact way that he knew the guy was dead because he head was six feet away from the rest of his body!

  11. Nigiri Says:

    I share your pain with the “Life Status Questionable” 32D1 calls. Once you get one real one, however, you are ok with them for a short time.

    The last real one I dispatched was a man in a parking lot lying beside his car with the driver’s side door open. He turned out to have a bullet hole in his head and an actual puddle of blood beside him. The police’s major crime division held up our ambulance crew for hours.

    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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