Things happen that you have little or no control over, and whilst the end result is fine there is that need to just vent your frustrations. To get your thoughts and emotions out there, not for people to try and fix how you feel or felt at the time, but for your own sanity.
Yesterday I had such a day. Arrived home from work to meet the husband at the local pub and discovered he had just collapsed a minute before and was unable to breathe. He was with very dear friends, who were all rushing round to help him, but we could see he was losing colour fast, and consciousness. Immediately I phoned 999.
This is where the need to vent is like the Force. Strong it is in this one.
The dispatcher took the location and I outlined that my husband had collapsed with what we thought was a possible heart attack. The dispatcher was like a robot, in fact I think pressing multiple options on a phone would have been more empathetic and reassuring than what he subjected me to. I was struggling to tell him much as I had not seen my husband collapse but I knew he had been to hospital several hours before to have blood taken, as part of him undergoing treatment for a blood condition recently diagnosed.
The dispatcher was uninterested in this and despite my pleading with him to please send an ambulance he proceeded to tell me that if I did not answer his questions in full then he would not be able to help.
Can you imagine if this was a child making a call? Can you imagine who terrifying it is to see someone collapsing in front of you, losing colour and consciousness, barely able to breathe and frightened?
The dispatcher was passed by me to one of the friends who was with husband when he collapsed as he could give more information. His first question to 999 was is an ambulance on the way. I could tell from his next comment he was also told “not until you answer the questions”. 5 minutes has gone by and we are all now worried sick.
I do not need to go into further details but suffice to say I lost control when the dispatcher was asking to listen to my husband’s breathing – or rather, his lack of it – and was then asking my husband to answer questions.
I grabbed the phone back, and verbally tore the 999 person a new one. He told me I was being unhelpful and he would not be in a position to assist if I would not be cooperative.
At this point all I can think is my husband is potentially going to die in front of me and half a dozen friends because they won’t send an ambulance.
Again a friend took over the call, again imploring them to just send someone out urgently. By this point a customer in the pub had intervened: he was an NHS nurse on leave. He was, and will forever be, our angel. He got the situation under control, my husband was starting to become a little more coherent. We were still unsure if the ambulance was on its way and how long it would be. Yes, the 99 dispatcher had still not confirmed to anyone if help was coming.
Thank god it did arrive a further 15 minutes later – I told them where my husband was and thanked them so much for coming out. As they were asking me a couple of quick questions, I mentioned the dispatcher refusing to send someone until we had answered all their questions and how we were left worried sick that no one was coming. The ambulance team were swift to assure us as soon as a location is given an ambulance is dispatched to the scene so they were already on their way within 2 minutes of the call. They were FANTASTIC 🙂
The relief I felt was enormous. The anger I had been experiencing to this point exploded even more though. Why weren’t we told help was on its way immediately? Why were we left to get more and more panicked answering questions, not even being sure of what we were saying (I couldn’t remember how old he was or my phone number ffs)? Why were we told WE were hampering help by not cooperating with what the dispatcher was requesting?
I don’t care what the protocols are, what the procedures are for handling a 999 call. All I do care about is being reassured help IS on its way. They can tell me I need to now help them with more information whilst the ambulance is on its way, but for the love of all that is sane is it really asking a lot that the person making the emergency call is reassured BEFORE they start going into details of GP surgery names and addresses?
Vent over – husband is fine. He had a bad reaction to too much sunshine and, having had a pint of blood taken a few hours previously, discovered that having a pint of beer so soon afterwards can be very very bad for you. Not a usual reaction, but for him very bad as he currently has to give a pint and a half of blood a week due to a variety of tests he’s having. You live and learn!