Saturday, 18 July 2015

Don't have a heart attack in Westfield

"I will call an ambulance on my mobile.… [pause]. It isn't going through. You try too"

 We – me, my 15 year old daughter and a Westfield security guard who claims to be a first aider, are outside some toilets in the shopping centre after my daughter has collapsed, dizzy, nauseous and with pains in her head, neck, arms and legs.

There is no signal on the mobile phone, and, for several minutes the guard keeps pressing redial while refusing to ask someone to call an ambulance on a landline, because…er, I'm not entirely sure why, but it's something to do with the fact that she's still breathing and just about conscious. He's suggesting we catch a taxi to the Hammersmith Hospital, fails to do anything about my request for a wheelchair, but responds to my agitation by suggesting that if I want to complain about him, I should go to the concierge and do so.

If you're tempted to shop 'til you drop, don't.

For some strange reason – oh yes, I'm sitting with a sick, scared and distressed teenage girl collapsed across my lap – I choose not to do that, but instead shout at him until he calls his manager. Eventually he does, and Nubia, who arrives shortly afterwards, is calm, decisive and effective. A wheelchair is brought, and we race my semi-conscious child to the taxi-rank, where a taxi driver takes us, reluctantly – "you should have called an ambulance" – "YES I KNOW THAT" – to the Hammersmith Hospital a few minutes away.

The Hammersmith. Highly recommend the Urgent Care Centre there

Staff at the hospital, especially the lovely and on-the-ball healthcare assistant Ifrah  – and at St Mary's where they have to send us later because she's under 16 – are wonderful. As are Jonathan, who helps us at Westfield and leaves his mobile number so I can let him know that my daughter's ok, the mixed-race boy who dashes into the hospital to bring us a wheelchair and the young Muslim woman and her two older male companions who are walking past the Hammersmith, and help us into the hospital, providing encouragment as well as physical support, after the taxi driver drops us across the street and my daughter falls on the pavement and can't get up.

I didn't get their names, but am hugely grateful. This kindness of strangers was deeply touching.


Luckily, there was nothing seriously wrong: my daughter had had a bad reaction to the beta blockers a specialist had prescribed a couple of days previously as migraine prophylaxis (a standard approach).

In this instance, Westfield's poor emergency response caused no long term harm. But – now my daughter has recovered, and I've caught up with everything I need to do (okay, apart from the housework) – I will complain.

Because if I don't, one day someone might have a stroke or a cardiac arrest in the centre, And the outcome is unlikely to be so happy.

Next week I'll be back with chapter 13 of Semantic Web for the Working Ontologist.

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