October 6th, 2008
Categories: General

When Should You Ring 999?


A little puzzle that arose on Saturday night. Names have been changed.

You arrive in a pub for last orders. You see a work colleague called Allan. Allan has minor learning difficulties, but he looks obviously upset. There’s a foul stench of alcohol amongst him, meaning that he has been drinking for quite some time.

Allan is usually quite a chirpy character, but today he’s different “I’m going to prison!”, he says over and over again, in slurred English. “I’m going down, and they’re going to kill me!”. Allan is annoyed about something.

Last orders come,  and bouncers aren’t being much help, say “Just throw him in a taxi and take him home.”. Unfortunately, nobody knows where home is, and asking “where do you live?” brings nothing out of him.

At which point, the increasingly hysterical Allan takes a turn for the worse, “They’re going to kill me! I’m going down! I’m going down!” over and over again. Then he says “I’m not going down! I’m going to kill myself first!”.

We’re running completely out of options, and it’s getting late. Would you ring an ambulence?

I’m not saying what we did, or didn’t. I want your thoughts. But I’ve only dialled 999 before now once before – when Han fainted – and I felt guilty when the guy came out.

There’s all about these stories about people ringing 999 to report a bright white light in the sky, which is fair enough, and there’s times where there’s heart attacks, strokes etc. and that’s fair enough. However, what would you have done in this situation? What is the right thing to do?

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