Emergencies are a funny thing. A few days ago, I was out with a couple of “friends” (this in quotation marks because a) I didn’t really know all of them and b) they are no longer my friends) and we came across an elderly lady lying face down in an alleyway. I automatically assumed there was a problem seeing as this woman was quite old and she had an overturned shopping bag on the floor next to her. We all rushed over and asked her what had happened. She replied “I was just walking down this road and I fainted. I have a knee problem so I can’t get up.” Then she started to become a bit aggressive, saying things like “get away from me!” And “I don’t know you!” Now apparently, one of the people I was with had seen her around, he told me that her name was Lorna and she did this all the time. I didn’t really think this made the situation any less serious so I tried to call an ambulance. In the meantime, two of my “friends” were trying to convince this old lady, who was obviously not in the best state, that they were brother and sister and that she was famous.

Anyway, after frantically trying to remember what the UK emergency number was, I finally got hold of someone who could help. I answered all the basic questions (How old is the victim? Is she breathing? What is her name? Does she have any abdominal pain? Is she able to talk? What is your address?), I was told “According to your analysis of the situation, you do not need an ambulance. For further assistance, please call the NHS number.)

I was shocked. Completely shocked. There was an old lady lying on the floor (by this time she was no longer responding to us) and “according to my emergency, I did not NEED an ambulance.” Thanks, British health service.

It took another two calls on separate phones to finally get an ambulance, of which I was even more shocked by the attitude of the health worker. He was blasé, coming up to us and audibly stating “Yep, I know you,” and continuing to tell us a story about how once she had ended up in New Cross (a town about 30 minutes from where we were). Then he half-heartedly got her address then told us we could go. 

Was I really that wrong and optimistic to assume we would get adequate help the FIRST time we called an ambulance?

Was I really that wrong and optimistic for being disgusted when my friends were laughing and filming this poor old woman? 

And was I really that wrong and optimistic for expecting that the health worker assigned to help the situation would actually be HELPFUL? 

If so, then I really don’t feel safe.