The Nation's Health + [Poker]

Dead Man's Hand

"25 year old male, playing cards, now not talking"

Call me a cynic, but I suspected this was going to be yet another waste of a resource. I may be wrong, he may well be having a stroke like the NHS111 triage system had determined, but at the age of 25, this was highly unlikely. There are always medical phenomenon, where teenagers have strokes, heart attacks and other conditions that are not expected to be a risk for at least 30-40 years. However, they are rare, especially when there are no risk factors. With no other symptoms listed, it was pretty staggering to the me that a) I was even going to it and b) it was such a high category or call! Anyway, who am I to form these opinions and question these decisions?! I'm just the Band 5 warrior who gets to see these people in their own habitat! I'm just the one who treats them. I'm just the ambulance driver who merely takes them to hospital. Questioning NHS111 is way above my pay grade! Anyway, only time would tell if it was NHS111 1 - 0 Me or the other way around. I suspected I would be taking home the points today!

I pulled up to the house around 1am. It was the only house in the road with lights on so was pretty easy to spot. The door opened as I was walking down the path and a young guy came out to meet me.

"Thanks for coming, you really shouldn't be here."

"No problem, what happened tonight?"

"Between you and me, he's a friend of a friend. We have had a poker night and he has lost money. He kept buying back in over and over and now owes about £70. He collapsed to the floor, we got him up and put him in a chair and he hasn't said a thing since. Every now and again he opens his eyes but just closes them. It's a bit odd, I reckon he's putting it on to avoid paying but a couple of the guys were worried and called that 111 thing."

"OK, thanks for the heads up, let's go and see him."

I was led through to the living room where the perfect 'lads night' was on display. Sky Sports News on the TV, remnants of a curry lying around, poker table set up and a fair few empty cans of lager all over the place. They were actually a really nice group of guys, polite, courteous, offered me tea / coffee etc.

"Coffee, milk and 2 please!"

Lying in the chair was the patient. I've seen a lot of unconscious people in my time and I've also seen plenty feigning unconsciousness and he was DEFINITELY not unconscious. I don't know what it is exactly, we just know! Unconscious people have a look about them.

"Come on James, open your eyes.......James, open your eyes."

Nothing. I lent forward and gently touched his eyelashes. Sure enough, they twitched. Shocker!

"James, I know you can here me, stop playing around and talk to me."

Nothing. I pinched the muscle on the top of his shoulder as my 'pain stimulus'. Sure enough, he recoiled from it but still continued the pretence of unconsciousness.

"James, an ambulance is on its why. I'd like to cancel them so they can be used on one of the dozens of seriously sick people who are currently waiting for one. The reason they are coming here is because you are pretending to unconscious. Do me and them a favour and start talking to me, this has gone far enough.........James!"

Nothing. I went for the shoulder again and he slid himself down onto the floor and started 'fitting'. It was one of the worst fake seizures I've ever seen, complete with spitting and drooling. After about 20 seconds he stopped. I picked up his arms, held it over his face and let it go. Sure enough, instead of dropping and hitting him in the face he moved it to one side at the last second.

"Red Base, this patient is not co-operating, could you request the police to attend this CAD as the patient is preventing the emergency services carrying out their duty." (Forgot to press the transmit button, oops!)

*cue the miraculous spontaneous recovery*

James started moving around slowly and feigning confusion.

"What happened, what's going on?"

"You pretended to be unconscious and then pretended to have a fit, are you recovered now?"

"What do you mean?"

I could have continued in the same vein but it was easier to just ensure he was fully recovered so I could cancel the ambulance. AMAZINGLY within about a minute he was fully recovered, fully alert, fully cooperative and fully embarrassed.

"Does he need to go to hospital?" said one of the guys.

"Nope, certainly not, he'll be just fine!"

"Excellent! Pay up bro! Mans have to pay their debts!"