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To Think This Odd - Police/Ambulance Related

(20 Posts)
RockinHippy Tue 30-Aug-16 18:29:38

I was concerned about a street drinker last night - on my way into a shop he was passed out stone cold face down & star shaped blocking the pavement. He didn't seem to be moving at all, but 2 others were with him. Though playing guitar/begging & ignoring him bar the odd kick.

On the way out of the shop someone had moved him into the recovery position, but on stepping around him to get past, I noticed his face looked purple & even though passed out, his eyes were half open & it looked pretty bad, but I'm no doctor

I didn't stop as his mates were a bit intimidating. I looked out for the local PCOs that are usually around, but were nowhere to be seen - so rang 101 in the hope they would get someone round to him quickly to assess the situation properly

The woman who took my call insisted on going through the usual report form, wanting my details, offering me a reference number etc - I did stop her & explained I was only reporting it as it looked like he was in a bad way & his mates looked too out of it/distracted to be much help & I was hoping maybe she could get the PCOS round to assess the situation properly - I had said exactly where he was etc

She accepted this, but then told me she would send an ambulance instead

Turns out I had several missed calls & a very stern message left on my voicemail - from the ambulance service complaining they had gone round to pick him up & he had gone

She had rang an ambulance & given them my number, which I hadn't given to her. I had made it clear I had no idea if he needed an ambulance or not, maybe the PCOS could assess as I was merely a concerned passer by

AIBU to not be chuffed about it as it looks like it was me who wasted the ambulance time
Surely this isn't normal - is it ? confused

TheSparrowhawk Tue 30-Aug-16 18:32:53

Once you report an incident you are the point of contact for that incident. You should have stuck around until the ambulance came.

Balletgirlmum Tue 30-Aug-16 18:33:09

Yes it's normal.

I called 999 to a what looked like either a collapsed man or a drunk (driving past I couldn't tell which) & the ambulance driver rang me back to get first hand details/description of where he was located.

He did say Id done the right thing calling.

Cynara Tue 30-Aug-16 18:34:34

Well, it can be very frustrating to arrive at the scene of a call to find your patient gone, because we then have to spend ahes searching for them in case they've staggered into the road/dark alleyway and are at risk. The general consensus amongst the staff is that if you're concerned enough to make a 999 call you should be concerned enough to keep an eye on the patient (from a safe distance if necessary) or stay nearby to make contact with the crew when they arrive. I do appreciate that you didn't ring 999, but that's more or less the logic of why they were a bit irritable with you.

user1472561038 Tue 30-Aug-16 18:37:20

I rang 999 once as there was a homeless man collapsed near the entrance to the multi storey car park where my car was. It was dark, quite late and I felt vulnerable so I didn't stay with him as there were others who were definitely drunk/under the influence of something around. The call handler made me feel bad for not remaining with him but I was young and felt unsafe. I understand why it would have helped them but at times you have to consider your own welfare.

Leviticus Tue 30-Aug-16 18:37:26

If you suspected he might be seriously unwell I don't understand why you think the job was more suited to a PCSO than an ambulance.

ButtMuncher Tue 30-Aug-16 18:41:00

But OP didn't ring 999 - she rang 101 and the dispatcher made the decision to send for an ambulance. OP had made it clear she didn't know the extent medically therefore wouldn't have wanted to say either way.

I think it's unfair that the complaint came to you - however, not much you can do about it other than possibly chalk it up to poor communication between dispatcher and ambulance service perhaps. The dispatcher could have always requested you remain on the scene, or immediately directed you through to ambulance where you could have given a more detailed description of the mans medical condition.

SomedayBaby Tue 30-Aug-16 18:54:33

Sometimes procedures get in the way of common sense IMO.

I had a similar situation in the past op - a few years ago, when I worked in a call centre, I was doing some overtime on a Sunday evening - only me there. I had a call from a woman who seemed very odd and was saying some really strange things - she then told me she was going to go and commit suicide and disconnected...she'd sounded serious to me.

The only procedure we had for suicide threats was to 'contact emergency services' I called 101 and gave all the details (I had the customer's address), imagining that they would send a police officer to check. Nope. They insisted on putting me through to an ambulance operator as it would be an ambulance that would be sent. I then sat on the phone for 5 minutes being asked a script of questions such as 'is the person alert and breathing? Is there a history of mental health issues' and so on - and despite telling the operator over and over the situation he insisted on asking them as 'we have to' hmm

Three hours later I got a call from a pissed off paramedic telling me the address I had requested an ambulance to was empty and boarded up and basically giving me a ticking clearly nothing of the actual situation had been passed along. A whole heap of nonsense.

Mrsmorton Tue 30-Aug-16 18:56:24

I'd have been pissed off if she'd given my mobile number out and I would email/tweet the local force to tell them about it.

AnchorDownDeepBreath Tue 30-Aug-16 19:00:38

Par for the course, I'm afraid - you're the contact point.

I had to report a suicide threat from a man in Europe for work once. I became the point of contact even though I had very limited information, had never met him or talked to him and had never been to his country. I even had to give evidence (it got a bit weird). If you report, you become point of contact.

I was always told that if you report a stranger you should stay within eye sight of them until someone official comes and "relieves" you, but that might just be best practice instead of actual guidance.

Lules Tue 30-Aug-16 19:07:48

I now don't feel guilty about ringing for a man I saw passed out a few months ago and it's been vaguely bothering me for ages, if you're expected to stay there. There's absolutely no way I would have hung around on an empty street late at night by myself. (I know that was a different situation, but same idea)

Bishybishybarnabee Tue 30-Aug-16 19:10:35

I had a similar situation a couple of years ago, came across a man who appeared to be passed out at the entrance to some public toilets. I felt quite vulnerable approaching so I called the non-emergency number, they were great. I explained the situation and they then put me through to the emergency number. They then found both me and the man on cctv and 'watched' us while the police were on their way. Police then took over and I was sent on my way. Got a follow up phone call later to say all was well.

Perfectlypurple Tue 30-Aug-16 19:17:01

Police are not medically trained. An ambulance has to be called. I don't understand why people ring police for medical incidents or fire as they don't like to bother the correct emergency service. If they had sent police who would then call an ambulance vital time could be lost. They will give the ambulance your number as they often need to ring to get more information.

ButtMuncher Tue 30-Aug-16 19:41:59

Police do have a level of medical training, actually. Or all the ones I know do, unless this has been phased out. It's basic, but it's probably more than the layperson knows, in additional to being backed up with support should a confrontation arise.

Also, street drinkers are usually very known to local police force/PCOS, therefore in some respects, getting them out first to someone who clearly has a pervasive pattern of street drinking (and therefore, behave like this regularly) can actually help medical staff provide the correct treatment - especially if a prospective patient has a mental/physical health condition that may provoke aggressive behaviour on approach. If I recall correctly, police are often called to these types of incidents as standard anyway.

Perfectlypurple Tue 30-Aug-16 19:45:06

Yes basic but not enough to administer more than first aid. Police are called to some things, if as you say they are aggressive but they are there as back up for the medical team and not there to go instead of.

RockinHippy Thu 01-Sep-16 09:40:47

Thanks for the replies, sorry I'm so slow to reply, I was travelling/away from home & mostly poor wifi service

Sometimes procedures get in the way of common sense IMO

This definitely sums it up for me too & if I'm honest might put me off getting involved again sad

As some of you have already pointed out, I rang 101, not 999 because as he & his mates looked like hardened street drinkers/druggies, I thought the local PCOs would be a better call to make a proper assessment of the situation as they know them all well, so would as said above know this guys usual form & how bad it really was. Around here I know they definitely have a decent degree of medical training too, plus as the guy was blocking the pavement & people having to step around/over him included small kids, I figured it was also a police matter. Police station is also barely 2 minutes walk away, so they could have got there much quicker than an ambulance

Had it of been anyone else in the same state, I would have rang 999 & waited, as I have done in the past with a woman who turned out to be diabetic.

hollinhurst84 Thu 01-Sep-16 09:47:41

Someday - we have to ask even if it sounds ridiculous. The calls are monitored and audited

Skittlesss Thu 01-Sep-16 09:49:01

I think you made the right decision in your call, but perhaps the call taker didn't pass the whole message onto the ambulance service - in that she or he didn't fully explain what you had told them.

I am an ex-PCSO and was often called to passed out drunk people.

c3pu Thu 01-Sep-16 12:46:31

The only person who wasted police/ambulances time here, was the guy who got paraletic drunk.

You did a good thing referring it onto 101, perhaps it would have been better if you could have stayed and seen it through, but it's a moot point.


pinkie1982 Thu 01-Sep-16 12:59:07

Sounds familiar.

I used to live above an alcoholic, so well used to him being sparked out in the street/doorway/communal corridor or being brought home by random passers by.

On this one occasion he was brought home in a van, the guy struggled to get him out of the van, then he couldn't lift him off of the floor at all. Couldn't find any keys. He buzzed up to my flat and I told him this isn't rare and just to leave him on the grass outside his flat.

After two hours he was still there, not moved at all. I called for an ambulance. They know him well. The operator wanted me to go outside and check his breathing. I refused and the woman was so rude, asking why I would 'rather let someone die' than go out there to check his wellbeing. I was on the second floor hanging out of my kitchen window, a week after coming home from a 17 day hospital stay with a prem baby. I had explained this to her and was shocked that that was her response.

In the end I didn't go out, a paramedic came within ten mins and called an ambulance to take him away.

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