Some time ago, I wrote about one of our regular callers, Brenda Kramer. (Not her real name – don’t start!) Brenda was an alcoholic who liked to call us out for increasingly inventive diagnoses (once she pretended her house was on fire, another time she pretended to be a neighbour who had found her, Brenda, dead). Invariably, she would turn out to have nothing wrong with her, waste the crews’ time, refuse to travel, be abusive towards them and occasionally answer the door completely naked. And ten minutes after they left, she’d call 999 again. Most call takers would recognise her voice as soon as it came through.
Since I made that last post, two and a half years ago, Brenda stepped up her abuse of the 999 system. She was calling several times every single day. Social Services, the police and her GP all got involved and a new care plan was drawn up for Brenda. Much to our relief, part of that care plan was an injunction against her calling 999. If she had called inappropriately, she would have been arrested and possibly imprisoned. In the case of a genuine emergency, she was instructed to contact her daughter, who would then call on her behalf. Only then (or if Brenda called and we were unable to contact her daughter) would we send an ambulance.
Well, the desks went quiet after that! Performance rose and the crews of Whatevertown Ambulance Station actually got on with treating some sick people. The injunction had worked.
Then, one day, we received a call from Brenda’s daughter. She’d not heard from her mother for a while, so she’d gone over to her flat. Getting no answer at the door, she’d peered through the letter box and seen Brenda lying lifeless at the bottom of the stairs. The Fire Brigade smashed the door open, but it was far too late. Brenda Kramer was dead. Finally, there had been something really wrong with her.
I feel sad for Brenda. Sad that after years of calling us out for nothing, she didn’t make the call that could have saved her life. Sad that just as her new care plan came into place, it all turned out to be pointless. And in an odd way, I’ll miss her calls, her theatrical manner, the aghast reports from the crews who attended. She was a real character. Here’s to you, Brenda.