Regular callers come in all shapes, sizes, colours, creeds, regularity, and, most importantly I guess, reasons for calling.
There's the diabetic, who despite her almost religious adherence to meal times, insulin injection times, regular blood sugar tests and the rest, still has repeated hypoglycaemic attacks, where her blood sugar drops dangerously low. In fact, the last time I met Bea, only a few days back, I was being observed for the shift, so there were two of us in the car for a change. It took the strength of two paramedics, neither of us particularly small, to hold Bea down long enough to give her the injection of Glucagon that would release her body's emergency supply of glucose into the blood stream. If anyone was looking in from the street to see what all the screaming and shouting was about, they'd have seen two large green people attacking a seemingly helpless elderly person. Probably would have made great tabloid photos. I don't mind that sort of regular. The ones, where despite their own best efforts, they have the need to call for emergency help.
Then there's the local drunk, Kish. He's not a homeless, penniless drunk. He's a drunk who has a home to go to, and a nice home at that. I know it's nice, because I've been there on countless occasions to take him home. He regularly calls from the same group of phone boxes complaining of whatever he can think of that will get the ambulance to him in the fastest possible time. That's assuming that he's been the one to call, rather than someone else who's found him lying in a heap on the ground after drinking too much (even by his standards). He's nothing but a drunk nuisance. And what's more, he claims not to have had a drink for years. I met him on my first week at work, and have met him literally dozens of times since. He's had over 500 attendances at the local hospital in the last 18 months, each one of them by ambulance. He'll often refuse to go to hospital, and want to be taken home instead, usually a mere 200 metres away.
It's only my professional etiquette that has so far stopped me from telling him what I really think. I'd love to tell him that he's wasting his life, wasting my time, wasting resources. He's delaying ambulances that are needed for real emergencies and delaying treatment for those who desperately require it. I'd love to tell him that he's really just a drunk and unpleasant waste of space. Don't get me wrong, if he was really ill, he would get first class treatment from me, but for now he just makes my blood boil.
The other night, the same night as Bea's call when there were two of us on the car, Kish called again. We were stood, face to face all three of us, trying to ascertain what it was that was supposedly wrong this time. Kish stood there telling us that everything from head to toe was hurting him, his eyes were falling out, that he couldn't stand, couldn't sit and couldn't walk, and swore blind that he has never had a drink in his life. We stood there and listened, unable, and frankly unwilling, to transport him anywhere in the car. We tried to convince him that it would be better for him just to walk the short distance home, but he remained adamant that he wanted to go to hospital. We had no choice but to wait for the "proper" ambulance to come and get him.
Whilst standing there trying to explain the benefits of him just going home, a member of the public walked up to us, tapped me on the shoulder, and said "Excuse me, can I just say something? I work in this shop here". We had no warning for what was about to happen. His next outburst wasn't directed at my colleague or me, but directly at Kish.
"YOU'RE A WASTE OF SPACE! YOU'RE A DRUNK, USELESS EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING! STOP CALLING AMBULANCES, YOU'RE JUST WASTING THEIR TIME! GO GET A PROPER LIFE AND A PROPER JOB AND STOP BEING SUCH A *&%*ING PAIN IN THE $*&^ TO EVERYONE AROUND YOU!!!!"
*****He started to walk off, turned around briefly, apologised to us for interrupting, and vanished.
Everything I'd had pent up, everything I'd wanted to say, everything I'd been feeling but couldn't express for fear of completely losing my cool (and possibly my job too), had just been blurted out by this well meaning, clearly equally frustrated, passer-by.
I think we may have to invite him to join us on the ambulance. Regularly.