Bearing in mind that the emergency services were stretched to capacity during the snowy period due to the high call rate coupled with the fact that many staff were unable to get in to work, you would imagine that people would exercise a degree of caution and put some thought into calling 999. However, we received a call which for me, defied belief (although the ridiculous story of the stolen snowman springs to mind now – so perhaps I shouldn’t have such high expectations of the general public!).
I was working with Richard on an ambulance when we were called to a ‘Collapsed behind locked doors – not seen for two days’ (see previous post on CBLD). We cautiously proceeded through the treacherous icy main streets, arriving at the same time as the police. As I parked in the small cul-de-sac and parked the ambulance a man popped his head out of his front door and said,
“It’s that one there you want” pointing to his neighbour’s house.
We were fully expecting to have to break in to the house and perhaps discover the body of a frail elderly person who had sadly succumbed to the cold conditions. But, as we walked up the path to the front door, it was clear that no one had passed that way before us, the snow was completely undisturbed. I doubted that anyone had even tried to check on him themselves before calling 999. We could see that a couple of downstairs lights were on and shortly after we rang the doorbell a man answered. He was very surprised to see members of the ambulance service and police standing on his doorstep.
“Who called you?” he asked completely baffled.
“He did!” I said as I pointed to his next door neighbour accusingly. I was completely incredulous that someone would dial 999 and call out the emergency services out during such a busy period to walk up the path of their next-door neighbour rather than simply do it themselves. Not very neighbourly behaviour.
On the other hand, on the day before Marc and I were called to an elderly lady who had become unwell and definitely needed to come to hospital with us. I went out ahead and tried to clear a path with my feet through the knee deep snow so that we would be able to bring her out safely without us all falling over. Seeing what I was trying (and failing) to do, four neighbours brandishing large shovels rapidly descended on the house from different directions and made light work of clearing a path between the front door and the ambulance doors – like Moses parting the Red Sea.
Now that is what I call good old fashioned neighbourly spirit!