Regulars and Regulars

There’s a problem faced by the ambulance service.

A problem faced everyday.

The problem of ‘Regulars’.


Regulars fall into two categories.

i) The genuine regular: These poor people have chronic conditions that, when they flair up, cannot usually be managed at home. Things like COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – a worsening breathing condition), angina or pain associated with cancer etc etc. Though we see these people often, they are for genuine conditions, so crews don’t mind dealing with them.

ii) The time-wasting regular: These people are a hideous drain on the services. Usually (but not always) alcoholics or dug users – yes I’m generalising but when you see these people almost every day, you see a pattern developing – who seem to get kicks from calling 999 and mentioning ‘magic words’ like, “chest pain”, or pretending to have Shortness of Breath.

When I used to take 999 calls in control, in one 12 hour period, we received 36  ‘999’ calls from ONE PERSON who’d claim they’d fallen 3,000 feet and hurt their leg!! Due to the litigious world we live in, these calls have to be triaged as with any other call and dealt with appropriately. It comes to the point where an agreement is made by the medical director, that this person (who has nothing wrong with them, by the way) will get one ambulance per day – ready for this? – just in case. It’s worth mentioning that this particular individual was ALWAYS abusive to ambulance crews and once threw faeces at them while they tried to help. Nice, eh?!

Sometimes, these people phone from a phone box, or pretend to be unconscious in the street, meaning a good samaritan calls 999 out of concern. As the phone number isn’t recognised, an ambulance is dispatched.

This leads me to my point: If you see an ambulance crew called to an ‘unconscious/drunk’ person in street. Don’t be too alarmed to the point of complaint if they look a little exasperated with the individual. It may be the 7th time they’ve seen, and been spat at by them, that day.


Apologies if this comes across a little ‘ranty’.

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