A ‘Fitting’ Response

, , , | Hopeless | July 28, 2016

(I’m walking to the supermarket. There’s a man curled up at the bus stop.)

Me: “Excuse me, sir, are you okay?”

Older Man: *slow and somewhat slurred* “No, I’m epileptic.”

Me: “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

Older Man: “Yes.”

(As I do, a young man sees us.)

Young Man: *to his phone* “I’ll call you back.” *ends call* “What’s wrong?”

Me: “Chap says he’s epileptic.” *to despatch* “I’m on [Road] just off the back of [Tube Station].”

Despatch: “Do you have a road number or postcode?”

Me: “Not to hand but…”

Young Man: “Give me a moment.” *taps on his phone* “It’s [local number and postcode].”

(I relay this in the phonetic alphabet. The young man repeats the questions I ask and is better at extracting answers. Another young man comes along, seeming to have dialled 999 as well.)

Young Man #2: “What’s happened?”

Me: “Epilepsy. It’s okay; I’m on the phone to the ambulance service.”

Young Man #2: “Okay.” *to phone* “Someone here is already talking to you.”

(He leaves at this point, but a businessman comes along and asks what is wrong too, as does an older woman going to the local GP surgery.)

Despatch: “Okay, an ambulance will be with you as soon as possible. Make sure he doesn’t do more than sip water. We are backlogged so please stay with him and if he gets any worse call again.”

(I hang up and relay this to those around me. Between us the only drink to hand is a cup of sweet coffee.)

Businessman: *indicating pub across road* “I’ll ask them for some tap water.”

(He comes back with a glass, complete with straw and ice.)

Businessman: “They said if need be he can keep the glass.”

(I take off my hoodie and roll it up so the man has a pillow and the young man helps him into the recovery position.)

Me: “Okay, if you feel like you’re going to be sick make sure to tilt your head up so you don’t choke.” *I gesture to indicate that I mean up relative to him, which he follows*

(Both the businessman and the older woman have to leave due to engagements, but the young man and I stay with him until the paramedics arrive.)

Paramedic: “Looks like you guys took good care of him. Do either of you know him?”

Me: “Nope, just a bunch of strangers willing to help.”

(As the man is led onto an ambulance the young man goes to take the glass back to the pub while a woman in a headscarf comes along, also asking what happened. I tell her the gist of it.)

Woman: “Wow, he’s lucky you came this way.”

Me: “I deal with the public a lot, but I believe in treating people the way you wish others would treat you.”

(The city has a reputation for being uncaring, but sometimes, seeing this many people willing to help restores faith in humanity.)

This story is part of our Epilepsy roundup.

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