“Yep. Admitted he had been a dick and had put the whole thing on, and was genuinely apologetic”
The officer was referring to a patient that, a couple of nights previous, had almost caused a mini riot and forced me to call for ambulance back up over an open mic, as Red 1 . . . for a pseudo fit!
It was another busy JRU shift on the car working for one of my favourite East London police borough. And finishing with a patient I could hear the dulcet tones of police over the handset, requiring my urgent presence for a “fitter”.
I was doing the obligatory ‘scene survey’ on arrival and could tell it was already a volatile situation. On a busy high street outside a fast food outlet a small angry crowd were gathering round a small circle of police who, in turn had formed a perimeter round the patient. He was lying ‘unconscious’ on his front, his hands cuffed behind his back. One officer was knelt down supporting his head.
I made my way to the patient’s head end and carefully dumped my kit. The officer holding the patient’s head started moving out the way.
“It’s alright, stay there, carry on what you’re doing. What’s the craic guys?”
Whilst the officer held the patient’s head I started all my ABC’s and checks. As I did, another officer gave me a hand over out of ear shot of the patient, “He’d been arrested for possession, and when we went to search him he started fighting. And then just collapsed and started fitting”, the officer gave me that typical thousand-yard-sideward-glazed-stare as he finished, “. . . and has been having little ‘mini fits’ since”.
I took the job seriously for now as I’d been caught off guard before with underestimating a patient’s condition, and never wanted it to happen again!
“Ok, lets get the chap on his side for now yeh,” I let the officers do the manoeuvring – they were bigger and stronger than me after all. Once in place I continued – and, just as I was definitely concluding that he was faking, he decided to start shaking his whole body – as if to have a seizure.
To those in the ‘know’ the act was quite pitiful. But in the current climate the effect on the crowd was instant. People started shouting, cursing, threatening, pushing and generally demanding. The police leapt in to gear doing what they do day in day out – they held the thin blue line and ensured no one interfered with me doing my job.
“DO SOMETHING MAN!”
“YOU’RE FUCKING KILLING HIM MAN!”
These were just some of the more ‘polite’ and ‘helpful’ suggestions from the growing crowd.
I’d already been reassured by Control that there was ‘nothing available’ and that ‘we’re holding multiple calls’. This was becoming the norm for London and was no longer a surprise – even for the police. I was therefore negotiating transport of our patient in their police van – ie many hands, lift him up, get him in, leave, sharpish.
The police sergeant was in agreement but wanted to use a proper ‘meat wagon’ as opposed to the people carrier they had on scene. They therefore put in an urgent request.
Whilst we waited the patient had several other ‘mini fits’ causing more mayhem and drawing more attention to the already belligerent masses. More people were shouting their disdain at our ineffectiveness to help this poor young victim.
“GET HIS CUFFS OFF MAN!”
“YOU’RE KILLING HIM – THE CUFFS ARE KILLING HIM!”
This was now the preferred attack on our position. The police were at first reluctant to remove the cuffs. I leant closer so the patient could definitely hear what I said . . .
“Yeh, but if we take the cuffs off we have better clinical control of the patient. And if he try’s to escape or lash out, then everyone WILL KNOW he’s bullshitting”
So, the cuffs were removed. The patient didn’t lash out and didn’t try to escape. But he did throw more body shakes into the equation. This, in turn, antagonised the crowd even more. They were almost at a point where they were overwhelming the police and it was becoming critical. I asked again and again, where their wagon was – and each time the news was –
I shouted over to the Sergeant that we’d need an Ambulance now and not to bother with the wagon. I figured we could no longer be seen to place this idiot into the back of a wagon as the mob already thought he was either dead or dying. We needed to make this ‘appear right’. Looking round, the crowd were about to riot. Folk had already started lashing out and throwing things. The police were heavily outnumbered and extra resources were being shouted for. The scene was clearly turning messy.
The JRU operates on open mic – so I grabbed my handset and called in . . .
“Red Base, this is GZMedic*. I need an urgent Red 1 response for this one! Pseudo fit”
“Roger that GZMedic. Red 1. Pseudo fit. We’ll get something asap”
And, just as I thought everything was about to breach, the ambulance arrived. This subtle change in circumstance broke the crowds’ momentum for just enough time for me to give cracking handover.
“Hiya guys. Grab your trolley bed now! Let’s get this chap on the truck. I’ll give you the details then!”
Give them their due, there was no argument, and within a couple of minutes the patient was inside and out of the public view. Whilst I gave the hand over and details of why I’d escalated the response the patient made himself comfortable and continued to show no signs of opening his eyes.
The crew agreed with everything and once a couple of officers were on board, started heading off.
The crowd had now miraculously dispersed and as I gathered up my stuff up and clearing the site, I started applauding the polices’ temperament and control over the situation.
“How the bloody hell do you guys do it?”
The Sergeant didn’t reply. He merely gave me a sidewards distant look and sighed. I left shortly after and returned to Base and allowed myself to be subjected to the normal mass banter/abuse expected for one who has called in, over an open mic, a Red 1 Pseudo Fitter.
Cheers MPS. For us, these situations are quite rare – but you guys get it all the time. Thanks for the support.
*not my real call sign of course