Kill Arthur: Volume 1
Arthur is ‘dead’.
The Ambulance crew are pretty sure.
We’ve bowed to their superior knowledge.
They’ve managed to convince his weeping widow, sobbing son and the nosey neighbour too.
Unfortunately, Arthur’s stiffening corpse isn’t actually dead yet. Not officially. Officially, he is ‘Apparently Lifeless’. There is still a chance he could be playing a cruel practical joke on us all.
Which is why we are present. Arthur has managed to die at home. In the living room to be more precise. Surrounded by his loved ones. And now us.
We now have to make a phone call to summon a doctor. Then wait for him before we make a second phone call and then wait for an undertaker. Finally we can write a nice story to tell everyone how efficient we were at making 2 phone calls and waiting.
Now, I know this process may be confusing to some. It may raise some questions. Like for instance, why we can’t make both phone calls together? Possibly halving our waiting time? Don’t be stupid.
It’s Saturday evening. So I have gone for a three hour wait for the doctor in the sweepstake. My colleague has gone for two. He’s new. He’ll learn. The first hour will be taken up by our control room trying to convince Arthur’s GP to leave the bosom of their family and drive all the way to us for a 30 second job. Fat chance.
Then we’ll be getting a Police doctor to us. Away from the bosom of their family. Slightly better chance. To tell the difference between an Arthur who’ll be taking Mrs A to the bingo tonight and one who won’t. They get paid. A lot.
By my reckoning they get somewhere close to ten grand an hour to confirm that Arthur is no more and to tell me the time. Plus travel expenses. Even at this fairly generous rate of pay, Arthur won’t be the top of the list for the Police doctor. He’ll fall somewhere after an actual breathing patient and the sumptuous cheese board on offer at their lodge.
I can understand this delay. I blame the ‘Ibiza Culture’ at our top universities.
You see, Year 1 Day 1 of doctor training is a lecture about telling the difference between someone they can help and someone who would be better served by a medium. On day 1 they’re keen, they listen attentively and the make lots of notes. Then it all goes wrong.
Year 1 Night 1 of doctor training usually ends at around 2am in the student bar. Buying rounds with cheques, getting their student debt off to an impressive start and telling each other how they’re going to be cardiac consultants 5 years after graduating.
Year 1 Day 2 seems to come round awfully quickly. There is a fair amount of inattention. And vomiting. The lecture for the day is all about what to do if your notes from day 1 were comprehensive enough to spot that the ‘deceased’ isn’t.
It’s Basic First Aid day. Their first chance to hump a rubber doll in public. Other than being a good warm-up for rag week, day 2 isn’t something your average GP remembers much about.
The NHS have recognised this problem. The doc may be reasonably adept at poking, prodding and coaxing coughs. Writing illegible scripts and notes. Telling you to live like an anorexic rabbit while their shirt buttons fight gallantly to hold back a beer belly. The Practice Nurse is there for the serious stuff.
If the wheel comes off and you happen to be in the need of some First Aid, the doctor will be dialling for an ambulance. While the nurse tries to keep you alive until they get there.
The whole team will be involved in your care.
The Secretary will be on the phone too.
To the person at the top of the waiting list.