Wednesday, 25 January 2012


We spread out and search a room each. The police broke the door down, leaving the splintered remains of the frame lying all over the carpet, like a giant wooden pile of pick-up-sticks. Greg's worried neighbour had called the police having not seen him all day and seeing that his morning newspaper was still sticking half way out of the letter box. 

"He often goes out for the day, but he's never this late back and never leaves before reading the paper first." He stands behind us as we step into the house, brave and afraid in equal measure. "I just hope he's alright." 

Each door is opened slowly as the fear of what may be found behind it gnaws away at the back of all our minds. The kitchen and main dining room are empty, as are the other two downstairs rooms. One of them looks as if it had been locked in a time-warp for fifty years, with piles of newspapers tidily stored all around the room. 

Some houses give more of an eerie feeling than others and this is one of them. Only half the lights seem to be working, the doors creak and floorboards whine as the small army of police, ambulance staff and worried neighbours walks around fearing the worst, but hoping for the best. The search continues upstairs and follows a similar pattern. A gentle opening of the doors, initial relief at finding nothing and then a move to the next room. A more thorough search of each room, behind beds, in hidden corners, in the toilets and bathrooms reveals nothing. Greg isn't at home. 

Initial relief is soon followed by concern. The police start to take a more detailed report from Greg's neighbours, knocking on a few doors up and down the street to see if anyone could remember the last time they'd seen him, the latest time being the previous afternoon. The lady next door tells us that she's known Greg for over twenty years. 

"He has family, but they all live somewhere in the north of England. Come down for Christmas and his birthdays, but that's about it. He's fiercely independent and very stubborn. Never asks for help or anything. Loves his days out, goes everywhere by bus." 

We ask our control to contact the local hospitals, wondering if Greg had been taken ill in the middle of the night or whilst out and about on one of his gallivants. As they contacted each hospital they called us back to let us know the answer. No hospital within a ten-mile radius was looking after Greg and concern for his welfare was building. The police had called his relatives just to make sure that he hadn't headed north without telling anyone, but he hadn't contacted them either. 

As we were about to leave, a white van pulls into the road, the two men on board had come to fix Greg's front door and make sure the house was safe and secure. "We'd have been here sooner," said the driver as he stepped out of the cab, "but we got stuck behind a crash. Some old bloke knocked over about a mile down the road. They've only just let us through!" 

The coincidence isn't lost on anyone and worried looks cross a number of faces. Yet again, one of the officers gets on the radio and tries to find out the name of the victim of the crash. We all hear the reply. 

"No details yet. He didn't have any ID on him." 

We have no choice other than to leave the scene and leave the police and neighbours to deal with the missing Greg. As we drive up the steep hill towards the main road, we're given another call. A child somewhere is having an asthma attack. It puts an end to our mystery call. We turn left at the top just in time to see an older man walking in the opposite direction. Shopping bags in each hand, he strolls without a care in the world. On a whim, I wind down the window and shout. 



Emzieness said...

Argh what a cliffhanger! Was it Greg!?

Anonymous said...

Aghhhh. Was it Greg? I'm gonna be up all night now, wondering.

Anonymous said...

Omg?! Greg?! Don't leave us hanging! Xx

MouseyMoomin said...

oooo leaving us hanging!!! was it greg?

MSgt B said...

Your cruelty knows no bounds.

How long will we be kept waiting?

Bobbi said...

Harsh! Please tell! Was it Greg? Or was he knocked down, or still missing and you were shouting at a random person? I really want to know now!

InsomniacMedic said...

One of the most frustrating parts of this job is that, like this post, we almost never know the end of the story...

Sarah said...

If it was Greg, then who pays for the front door to be fully fixed, as then it would seem he didn't ask for it or need it?

I've had the misfortune to require police to knock down my front door for paramedic access. So I know from experience that whilst there is no charge for the workmen they arrange to make it immediately safe and secure, the door is likely to still be far from fixed when everyone has left. When I got out of hospital I had to hire a carpenter to replace the smashed door frame (cost around £250). In my case this seemed fine as I needed the door broken down, but I wonder how the situation differs if the need turns out to be mistaken?

SlummyMummy said...


hilinda said...

Ooh, clever.
You're right, we so often don't find out the end of the story. There are almost always missing pieces that we end up wondering about.

I think you know the answer to this one, though, and you're not telling.

I'm also curious about fixing the door, and about being authorized to knock it down in the first place. Who decides, and how do they decide? It's tricky. If I was away, I wouldn't want people, even well meaning people, to break into my house and go through it looking for me, but if I was in trouble, of course I would want them to be there.

InsomniacMedic said...

As far as Greg is concerned - stand by for the follow up blog.

As for the door - the decision is taken by the police. If they believe that there is a high index of suspicion that there is someone "collapsed behind locked doors" and no other access is available, then they will gain access in whatever way possible, whilst causing the least amount of damage necessary.
As for payment, I think it gets covered under the occupants home insurance, but I'm not entirely sure.
Anyone who knows better - feel free to correct me!

Anonymous said...

If the Ambulance Service asks for the door to be put in then the LAS gets the bill for it.

If however, you get the police there and they then decide that the door needs to be put in then the Met pays for it