Emergency Talks

Last week my frail and weak, elderly dad pulled his red helpline cord at his sheltered housing accommodation. The Lifeline operator called me to say that an ambulance had been sent because my dad was having trouble getting out of bed.
Crikey, I thought. If I did that, I’d have spent most of my life in and out of hospital.
After a comfortable week’s stay in Medway hospital, he was declared well enough – or simply less tired – to go home.
On the day of his return, the Occupational Therapist decided to see if my dad could walk from his armchair to his bed.
Dad led the way on his walking frame, being steadied from behind by the therapist holding onto his waist. I followed and would have held onto her waist but it would’ve been the most inappropriate conga line ever.
Unfortunately, dad couldn’t quite make it and tumbled to the floor.
The Occupational Therapist immediately called it a “Failed Discharge” because “Epic Fail” would have looked bad on his medical records.
Unable to safely raise him from the floor, a call to the ambulance service was made.
I know these operators are overworked but I wasn’t expecting their first question to be “Have you had an accident in the past 6 months?”
There then followed around 30 scripted questions to assess the seriousness of the situation, starting with “Is the patient breathing and conscious?” to “Has he been mis-sold PPI?”
We finally struggled to put dad back into his armchair, not realising the ambulance may have been despatched quicker had we left him on the floor.
After many exhausting calls to the operator – I’ve spoken less on the phone to girlfriends – a paramedic arrived at 12.40am. Over 9 hours after the fall.
In his now tired and confused state, my dad kept bizarrely calling the male paramedic “Babe.” Maybe because of his slightly effeminate voice or because he was small, pink and portly?
Dad was immediately taken back into hospital and is still very poorly.


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