Lights and sirens help us part the traffic a little like the Red Sea would have done, walls of cars forming on both sides of the road, just slower and with greater apathy. A few stray waves decide to make a stand and not get out of the way, one racing to see if he could beat the ambulance, only to have his plan ruined by a red traffic light. Another just stops dead right in front of us, clearly having more faith in our brakes than we did. A tug on the steering wheel, a slam on the anchors and a few choice words had the desired effect, and we avoided the back of their car by an air particle or two.
Emergencies come in three broad categories: Life-threatening, possibly life-threatening, and not life-threatening. This call was the former. An unconscious twenty-year-old girl, believed to have taken some sort of drugs, the quantity and type as yet unknown.
"It's my girlfriend, Clara," says the panic-stricken gentleman who greets us in the car park, barely giving us a chance to open the ambulance doors. "I think she's tried to kill herself!"
"Is she breathing?" We talk as we walk towards the patient.
"Yes, but she won't talk, won't open her eyes. I think she's unconscious."
"Do you know what she might have taken?"
"She's lying on top of the box, so I can't see it. They told me on the phone not to move her."
Having climbed the two flights of stairs, we find Clara lying on the floor of the lounge. Flickering eyelids tell us all we immediately need to know - she's not unconscious. Some gentle persuasion and asking Dean to leave at the realisation that as her boyfriend, he was possibly the catalyst to the drama, finally convinced Clara to open her eyes.
"Dean seems to think you might have taken some tablets. Is he right?"
A nod of the head.
"Can you tell us what they're called?"
A shake of the head.
"OK, how many have you taken?"
Clara holds up four fingers.
I decided to end the game of charades, and ask a question that would require a spoken answer. "Were they prescription tablets, or something you bought by yourself?"
"Bought them from a friend." She looked down at the floor, thought for a second and then went on. "They're not going to kill me, are they?"
"Do you still have the box they came in?"
Clara went back to nodding her head.
"Can I see it?"
Slowly, she moves to remove the box from the pockets of her pink hoodie, and hands it to me.
"You took four of these?"
"And nothing else?"
"I think you'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. Four Strepsils have never killed anyone."
"But I didn't have a sore throat, so isn't that dangerous?"
"No it's not. Not sensible, possibly, and might give you a bit of belly ache, but it's not dangerous."
"Are you SURE?"
"Can you take me to hospital, just to be sure?"
"If that's what you want? Sure."
"Yes please. Y'know, just to be sure."
My persuasive skills that managed to bring her back from unconsciousness were no match for her concerns about four throat lozenges.