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…