“I’m gonna do it! I will! You ain’t stopping me!”
“I’ve not doubt you will David*. But can we at least just talk about it first hey?”
I took another step toward my patient but he turned and ran off down the road. I watched helpless, as David would occasionally attempt to step into the paths of oncoming cars. Thankfully, his cumbersome actions were so ridiculously obvious to the motorists they simply slowed down and carefully maneuvered around and continued on their way, only a small portion of bemusement added to their night.
My patient quickly disappeared out of view leaving me standing perplexed and alone.
Obviously I toyed with the idea of chasing after him but here was a young man, skinny and wired to the hilt versus me, a “slightly older” man, wearing full ambulance clobber including a stab vest and carrying a paramedic bag on his back and holding a Lifepak machine. I think the odds of me chasing him down were stacked inexorably against me.
I returned to the car, dumped the kit in the back and radioed in for some police support. This was a busy night so I knew I’d be low priority for the Rozzers. So, I sat down on the car bonnet, breathed a deep sigh and contemplated what to do next.
“I WILL do it!! I bloody WILL!”
I half jumped and half fell off the car to find David standing behind me. He had returned and was now holding his T shirt in one hand and standing defiantly topless in the middle of the road. I’d nearly had a heart attack.
“Oh. Hello David. You’re back . . . erm, want to chat now?”
“No! Fuck off! Don’t come near me! Don’t touch me! Keep back! KEEP BACK!”
I hadn’t moved. In fact, I wasn’t going to move any closer than I had to. Poor David was . . . . a bit NFH** for my liking. He ran back up the road and attempted another set of car suicides. Failing abysmally at this he ran back up to me and stopped at a short distance.
“David,” I said holding my hands up calmly, “let’s stop this hey? I can’t chase you fella, so let’s just have a talk yeh?”
“No! I said KEEP BACK!!” David then wrapped his T shirt round his neck and held the loose end up above his head in a vein attempt to hang himself.
“David mate. It ain’t gonna work. It’s not going to happen.”
“Yes . . . it . . . will . . ”
“No David. It won’t. If you DO manage to pass out I’m just going to take the shirt off you aren’t I. Come on man, let’s stop this yeh” I walked toward David beckoning him over to me. Again, he ran off into the night.
Oh for goodness sake.
Much that I didn’t want it, I then got involved in a cat and mouse slow speed chase down the road. He ran, I followed in the car – occasionally giving an update to Control. Eventually, I was joined by two police cars and and ambulance crew and before long we were all involved in what can only be described as a Benny Hill type sketch whereby all of us were in convoy, chasing David round the streets.
Finally though, the opportunity came to head him off and the moment we did, the police pounced on him, assisting him into the Ambulance and earning him an escorted trip to Hospital where poor David was promptly sectioned for his own safety.
*Not his real name of course
** Normal For Hackney
I discussed this job with some work colleagues later and it turns out David is well known to us as one of our regular MH patients.
One of my colleagues wistfully remembered a time when David “attempted” to take her hostage . . .
“He held his hand in his pocket as if he had a weapon and started jumping back and forth like this,” She stood sidewards on and hopped toward me and then hopped back, repeating the move over and over, “as he did so he was shouting, ‘right, I’m taking you hostage, you’re my prisoner!’ – I just looked at him with a smile and said, ‘Really David? Really?'”
Another colleague remembered a time when they’d come across him standing in a telephone booth threatening suicide and mass criminal damage. When the crew had challenged his intentions, David had then said he was going to kill them.
“When he said that I just put my foot against the door and held it shut . . . it was like watching a fly trying to escape out the window – you know, when it keeps bashing its head against the glass. Well, we just kept him there until the police arrived”
. . . . I think this won’t be the last time I see David.