Here are the regulars I have become familiar with in my first month on my new sector:

Horace Halfpenny

The infamous colostomy flinging wanderer known and dreaded throughout London. Currently residing in a hostel on my sector after making a miraculous recovery from 50% burns caused by setting fire to his own flat. Giving the crews hell.

Archie Blazer
Psychiatric patient, just out of prison. Exceedingly unpleasant man. Rings and tells call takers that he knows where they live and it will be them needing the ambulance, not him. Funnily enough, we know where he lives too, so he gets frequent visits from the police.

Enid Whiner

Lonely, elderly, bed bound female who always rings with “chest pain” or “difficulty breathing”. When the crew arrive, she either wants her bedclothes adjusting or to be given her nightly medication which her carer has “forgotten” to give her. Liaison with said carer has revealed that Enid may be rather fond of the effects of her sleeping pills and resorts to devious means to get an extra dose.

Ben Higginbotham
Psychiatric patient, depressed, 35 years old, going on 5. Rings and asks us to contact his mum for him. Cuts arms when we refuse. Before you start feeling too sorry for him, I should tell you that he once lost his rag and kicked a paramedic in the head, so we now refuse to attend without police.

Jackie Daniels

Absolute pain in posterior. Rings from phone boxes in local shopping centres to say she has headaches and nosebleeds and to complain about society and the local gangs and the effect these have on her (possibly imaginary) children. Is never, ever there when the ambulance turns up – in fact it is believed she deliberately hides from the crew and then calls in again once they have given up and left.

Published Mar 17, 2009 - 21 Comments and counting

21 Comments on “New Sector, New Regulars”
  1. Erin Says:

    Don’t suppose you could indicate which hostel… am planning on making my way to London soon and would not like to come across Horace… :S *decides to stay in a hotel* I’ve already staying in one with a crazy bag lady, and that was not pleasant.

  2. Suzi Brent Says:

    I would but I can’t compromise Horace’s confidentiality. Perhaps if you email me with the location of your hostel I can tell you if it’s safe? Though there must be hundreds of hostels in London so the chances of you sharing with Horace are slim…

  3. Erin Says:

    Nah, I should be fine. I assume he’s probably staying in the lower price range ones where you never use the bathrooms and sleep on your bag. After spending one night in one of those, decided they weren’t for me, strangely enough.

    Mind you, if I do bump into him, I’ll let you know :S Thanks for the offer, though. I think I need to find a rich bloke who let me travel the 5 star way… no more hostels… no more backpack… *has stumbled off topic into her happy little fantasy land*

  4. Adam Says:

    God, I think I’ve spoken to Ben before, was very close to calling his Mum. I didn’t know he attacked a paramedic. I’ll think twice before I feel sorry for him again!

  5. Jake Says:

    The first three I have a certain measure of pity for, the fourth a bit less so; mental illness is not a lifestyle choice, and it’s not impossible that Enid simply doesn’t have anyone else to talk to.

  6. Suzi Brent Says:

    I think Enid is the one I sympathise with most – she must be lonely to keep calling us out but even so I wish she’d find something else to do! I lost sympathy with Horace a long time ago (it might be something to do with the fact he keeps flinging his colostomy bag at crews and threatening to shoot the doctors at his local hospital). I lost sympathy with Ben when he attacked a paramedic, and Jackie I’m not even sure is real, since no one has ever managed to locate her.

    While mental illness is not a lifestyle choice, assaulting people and making inappropriate calls are choices, and not ones that impress me much!

  7. Auntie Jane Says:

    Oh dear… It takes all sorts I suppose. Don’t think I’d like to be a Para Medic, especially in London.
    You all do a fantastic job, but you shouldn’t be put in positions of danger at any time.

  8. Central medic Says:

    Two or three of them sound familiar… You can almost get sentimental about them – I went to Horace last year on his birthday and on the way to hospital actually briefly considered at one stage buying him a celebratory sandwich to soak up the 4 or so litres of strong lager he appeared to already have drunk. Then he woke up, called me something unpleasant (and inaccurate), and normal service was resumed.

  9. radishey Says:

    Heya, bit of an unrelated question for you, if that’s okay. I was just wondering if you could shed any light on this – the one and only time I called an ambulance was about four years ago, and looking back it seems to fit pretty exactly the pattern of the ‘time-wasting’ calls you guys (understandably) get so annoyed about. I’ve been wondering since what I should actually have done about it.

    Some of my friends had been out drinking, and while I was more or less sober (all of us being VERY underage), one of them had been drinking neat vodka, and before long she was semiconscious on the floor of a McDonalds toilet. Unfortunately, while she had a friend who knew where she lived, we hadn’t got any money for a taxi, and none of us could lift her anyway (she was quite fat and very limp).

    She was getting less responsive, not more, as time went on, and the security staff at McD’s were looking a bit worried. The call almost certainly didn’t warrant an ambulance, but I was pretty young and to be honest I didn’t know what else to do. In the end they sent a FRU, who was amazingly patient, and a few minutes later an ambulance arrived, whose crew seemed to be silently fuming.

    I don’t blame them, really, but I was wondering – how would you have reacted, if you’d taken that call? What should I have done instead? I realise the answer to that is probably “stopped her from drinking so much in the first place” but in the absence of that, what? I have a feeling her friend would have wrestled the phone off me had I called her parents, so I saw no alternative at the time.

  10. radishey Says:

    Argh. Blimey that was long-winded, sorry about that. I didn’t realise… D:

  11. sue Says:

    Having seen Horace in A&E he stinks like he died about 3 years ago…it really was foul!

    I worked on an A&E reception for 3 years and we had loads of regulars. Some of the alcoholics I was quite fond of. We had the regular Od’ers too,and the fake seizure woman. One of our daily visitors was found in the town in cardiac arrest one day, the day before he’d been seen with his usual complaint of aches and pains and told to get a flu jab! Sometimes I miss them!!

    We once had to ring 999 for a work colleague that was unresponsive after drinking a *lot* of red wine. We didnt know what else to do as she’d vomited and we couldntrouse her, or move her (we’d dropped her on the floor after I had the bright idea to put her in an office chair and wheel her to the lift!).The FRU turned up first to find 7 of us sat round her drinking wine andsmoking (in the office!). I thought I was *very* drunk when my questions got the answer that he’d come in a car!!

  12. Suzi Brent Says:

    Hi Radishey

    If it had been me, I would have phoned her parents, definitely. Or any other responsible car driving adult – your parents, maybe? If her friend had wrestled the phone out of my hand – well, she wouldn’t have been a very good friend! If she was so determined not to get parents involved let HER sit with the drunk girl until she sobers up enough to get home! I guess if there were no car driving adults at all you could call on and no one who could lend you money for a cab the only option would be to give her plenty of water and wait for her to sober up enough to get home (which may admittedly have taken some time) normally.

    BTW, if your friend had been completely out cold, that is, not responding even if you pinch her hard, or her breathing seemed to be slowing down and getting shallower, calling 999 is absolutely the right thing to do – it’s rare but people can die from alcohol poisoning.

    If I’d been the one taking the call I would have treated you politely like I do any caller, and tried to appreciate the fact that you were desperate and didn’t know what else to do – but yeah, like the ambulance crew I probably would have been silently fuming too, thinking of the old lady with a broken hip who’d have to wait longer now… :/

    Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh, I do appreciate you asking the question and I know it must have been a horrible situation for you to be in, especially when you were so young, and that you wouldn’t have called unless you were desperate. At least you were a good friend and didn’t leave her on her own!

  13. Ailbhe Says:

    A friend and I phoned an ambulance for a classmate after 16-year-old exam-results pissup one sunny afternoon. Some of the others in the class were still angry with us two years later.

    But she lost consciousness, her friends refused to phone her parents, and her pulse was slowing down.

    Apparently she didn’t enjoy having her stomach pumped.

  14. Lauren Says:

    My friends and I were clearly strangely responsible young drunkards – the only time there was ever an ambulance in attendance to any of us was when someone fell through a plate glass door and shredded their arms in fairly spectacular style – and we were all sober at the time. I think we all just had the sense to phone the parents of the very drunk person and let them deal with the fallout the next day, needless to say, we learnt our limits very quickly!

  15. DundeeMedStudent Says:

    Surely Radishey’s questions just go to prove we need proper education about when to call an ambulance and basic first aid to be taught in schools- alas I don’t think that will ever happen.

  16. Dullahan_999 Says:

    Not so much an education about the emergency services, but a generation that has not had to think for themselves.
    If you give someone everything on a plate, then they forget how to look after themselves. Put them in a situation they can’t concieve how to deal with and they automatically call for help, and what could be quicker than the phone in your pocket and three numbers. Job done, responsability passed on, back to easy life.

  17. Radishey Says:

    Thanks for the response, that makes a lot of sense. I think Dullahan may be right, in a way – we tried until we hit an obstacle, then we went on to the next easiest thing, which was an ambulance. We just didn’t understand why we shouldn’t call – the ambulance was just a free ride to the hospital, to be used when necessary. Not a joke, but not a total last resort either.

    I actually thought that I was being fairly responsible about it at the time, believe it or not. I think there definitely needs to be more education about this stuff, especially among young people. Unfortunately though, as people have said, if you encourage people to call ambulances less, you run the risk of putting off the old ladies on floors.

  18. Suzi Brent Says:

    the ambulance was just a free ride to the hospital, to be used when necessary

    I think this is a common belief and you’re totally right, more education is definitely needed to tell people that ambulances are not just there to get you to hospital (or out of McDonalds in your friend’s case – I doubt she even needed to go to hospital – she needed a lift home, plenty of water and headache pills for the morning ;) ). I think EMDs, myself included, are guilty of losing sight of the fact that people haven’t been told how to use the ambulance service and assume every inappropriate call is due to the caller being malicious, selfish or stupid. You have shown this clearly isn’t the case, so thanks.

  19. Sean Says:

    I asked a friendly FRU driver who was waiting around outside Old Spitalfields market last sunday what sector he was under – I mentioned that I’d been reading a blog by a North East Allocator – his response – “neenaw.co.uk, right? Yeah, it’s great!”.

    So there you go ;P

  20. Troper Man Says:

    Hi Suzi

    I had a simlar situation to Radishey’s with a young male who was out of it on neat vodka. As a member of the Johns, myself and another stayed with the lad and called his mom. She too was out of it with drink and couldn’t even talk on the phone to us and no way could drive to pick him up. We stayed with him for one and a half hours doing the required checks every 10 minutes. eventually he became sober enough to tell us his friends mobile number so we called him and he came to his mates rescue. The young lad got home safe and sound. Two weeks later he bumped in to me in a shop, came across and shook my hand and thanked me for being there to help him. Who says youngsters don’t appreciate us old ones helping them out.

    Kind regards
    Trooper man

  21. Coupon Code Says:

    very personal. good stuff

    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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