You called 999 and told us that your friend had been attacked by a group of ten or more youths. He’d been stabbed, you told the call taker, come quickly. He’s lying unconscious in a pool of blood. You weren’t sure if he was breathing, you said.
The call taker you spoke to was new. The adrenaline rose in him as he gave you the instructions. He told you how to maintain your friend’s airway, but you dropped the phone and didn’t come back. His trainer reassured him that he’d done everything right, but he still worried. He’d never taken a call like this before.
Meanwhile, the allocator upstairs looked at your call and took the decision to divert the ambulance from Mrs Jones, age 85, two streets away, who was in the midst of a heart attack, and sent it to your friend instead. She’d have to wait a couple of minutes longer for the second nearest ambulance to reach her. Hopefully those minutes wouldn’t mean the difference between life and death.
HEMS, the air ambulance, was dispatched, with a doctor and a paramedic on board. Did you know it costs HEMS an average of one thousand pounds every time it takes off? HEMS is a charity, so that’s money people have collected in jars, doing bungee jumps, shaving their heads, money given to help people. Because HEMS went to help you, it wasn’t available for poor little Johnny Taylor who was hit by a car ten minutes later on the other side of London, and broke his leg in two places.
As the police, the ambulance crew, the ambulance manager and the HEMS team ran to the spot where you said your friend lay dying, they found nothing. Just a phone box with the handset dangling from the receiver and a rustle in the bushes as you ran away laughing.
Did you feel proud?