Today, a passenger on the bus I was travelling on, had a fit or seizure of some description. Luckily for them, they slumped sideways into the recovery position and the bus was stationery, having just pulled into a bus stop.
The driver and another passenger ‘oversaw’ the person for the duration of their seizure. So far so good. The person then responded to the driver that they had never had such an episode before. And so, the driver, quite reasonably and presumably acting on the precautionary principle, phoned emergency services.
Obviously, the call centre wasn’t in Dunedin as the driver had to reiterate he was in Albany Street, describe where Albany Street was and point out that ‘Albany’ began with an ‘a’ and not an ‘e’. Had the street been by any other name, then that small breakdown in communication wouldn’t even have been noticed. But questioning the whereabouts of Albany Street? I mean, for the benefit of anyone unfamiliar with Dunedin – anyone – everyone in Dunedin knows where Albany Street is due to the fact it runs down by the side of the University.
Anyway, the call proceeded on the basis of the driver answering direct questions or running rudimentary first aid diagnoses under instruction from the person on the other end of the phone.
Then he was told an ambulance would be on its way. So we waited.
And ten minutes became fifteen minutes. And fifteen minutes became over twenty minutes. And still there was no sign of an ambulance. Again, for those unfamiliar with Dunedin, Albany Street is one block away from the hospital…a two to three minute walk. The driver re-dialled emergency services and again was told to wait and assured that an ambulance would be there.
And more than forty minutes ticked by.
During that period, the person who had ‘fitted’ left the bus and began to walk along the road. I caught them up and suggested they come back to the bus as we were awaiting an ambulance. They hadn’t realised…had forgotten…that was why the bus was just sitting there.
So they, perfectly functional but discombobulated, came back to the bus. I asked where they had intended to go when they had left the bus and was told they were heading towards the hospital, though they had no idea where they were. And as minutes ticked by they became more inclined to be upset – tears of embarrassment, guilt, confusion or whatever bubbling just beneath the surface in spite of reassurances from the other passengers that any delay to our journey was inconsequential.
I don’t know what happened in the end as another bus came to ferry the rest of us passengers home after forty minutes or so.
But what the fuck is it that emergency services say they are sending an ambulance from no more than three or four hundred meters away and more than forty minutes pass and no assistance has arrived?
Is this common place? And if it is, is it acceptable? The driver, myself and the other passengers have been left gobsmacked.
I mean, if emergency services were reasonably confident that no emergency existed, then why did they instruct the driver to wait? Why, if there was deemed to be no emergency, weren’t instructions issued to simply bring the person (either by bus or on foot or ‘later’) to the hospital for a check-up/over? Anyone out there have any experience/knowledge that could provide answers or a measure of understanding? Or is it all as a consequence of the information contained in this article from the turn of the year?