Call taking the other night, I took a call from one of the rudest, most unpleasant, man I have ever encountered. It went something like this:
Me: Emergency ambulance, what’s -
Him: Are you just going to ask stupid ****ing questions or are you going to send me an ambulance?
Me: Um, I’m going to ask questions and I am going to send you the ambulance. Talking to me will not delay help coming. What’s the problem?
Him: Listen here, you ****. I don’t have time for this. My wife could be dying and you just want to sit here and ask me questions.
Me: We need to ask questions so we can send you the right help. While I am talking to you, someone else is arranging help.
Him: I demand you stop asking me questions and ring the ambulance crew up and tell them to come now.
Me: That isn’t how it works. My job is to get information from you, someone else’s job is to arrange the ambulance. Now please tell me what the problem is.
Him: My wife is 37 weeks pregnant and there is water coming from her ****ing vagina! Oh my god! What more do you want?
Me: The address of the emergency, please.
He gives me the address – in the sort of tone of voice that implied that I should already know, and anyway, never mind the address, just send an ambulance – and I find that he has already called. I read the original ticket, which informs me that this is a green call, to his pregnant wife, whose waters have broken. She is not unwell and is not even in labour. The original call taker has valiantly battled to get those details from him, but he has hung up before telling us his wife’s name and hospital, essential information for any maternity related call. “Very abusive caller”, the call taker has written. Dispatch have sent the police and the ambulance crew are not going anywhere near until the police arrive.
Me: I see you’ve called already. Help has been arranged. Has there been any change in the patient’s condition?
Him: NO! There is WATER coming between her legs! She is dying, I tell you!
Me: Why do you think she is dying? What is wrong?
Him: I told you, you moron! There is WATER coming from between her legs.
Me: Nothing else? She’s not ill or in pain at all?
Him: THERE IS WATER! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?
Me: Her name and hospital, please.
Him: You send the ambulance and I will tell them!
Me: It doesn’t work like that. The ambulance crew need to know where they are taking the patient to, and if there is a problem we need to contact her midwife, and the midwife will need to know who she is.
Him: So what, the midwife will get in her car and come over??!! (He says this as if I have suggested something utterly ridiculous).
Me: Yes, exactly.
Him: So have you rung the ****ing midwife yet???
Me: No – we will ring the midwife if there is a problem. From the information you have given me, there isn’t a problem. Your wife’s waters appear to have broken, which is a normal thing that happens before a woman gives birth. When the ambulance crew arrive, they will check her over, and if there is a problem, then they will contact a midwife.
Him: Oh lord! I don’t know what I have to do to get an ambulance from you!
There were so many answers I could have given to this last question, none of which would have been compliant with London Ambulance Service protocol, but fortunately I didn’t have time to say anything before he hung up.
I think it was not so much his rudeness that annoyed me – rude callers are ten a penny in this job – but the fact that despite having a heavily pregnant wife, he totally failed to realise that there was absolutely nothing wrong with his wife and that waters are supposed to break when you are about to have a baby! If he didn’t know this fundamental fact about childbirth, one wonders how much he knows about looking after an actual baby. I can’t help wishing that idiots like this weren’t contributing to the gene pool!