My Crazy Experience with the Dutch Medical Dispatcher

I was sleeping like a log in my Ikea bed even if the people in my student house were having a ‘boozy session’ and they felt the need to let everyone else know that by running madly in the corridors. 

I must have had a long week trying to balance my assignments, my social life, and my leisure activities, so my body instantly shut down once I found myself wrapped in my warm blanket. Even so, at some point in the night, I was woken up by timid knocks on my door and weird raspy growls. 

Clueless, I immediately jumped out of my bed and took a quick look at the screen of my phone. It was 3:30 in the morning. Because the knocks continued, I decided to open the door, and to my surprise, in front of me was standing one of my best friends in the student house sweating and seemingly choking.

Of course, as I am not a psychopath, I proceeded by asking him immediately what was going on, but he could not articulate any sound. With a combination of sign language, nodding and texting, he managed to explain to me that his tonsils were so inflamed that he could not speak, drink, or eat properly. 

I knew that for a week he had been struggling with horrid tonsillitis. Still, I thought that during that day he had gone to see a G.P. Apparently this was not a helpful move as the doctor greeted him with the typical ‘encouragement’ of medics in the Netherlands, assuring him that he is ‘okay’.

Panicked because he was extremely dehydrated, I decided to call 112. The operator was quite rude, making sarcastic statements when describing the situation of my friend. Her conclusion was pretty straightforward: ‘We do not take people with an ambulance for any minor cold’. 

Trying to remain calm, I insisted and asked what I can do to help my friend since he cannot, you know, do the two vital things to keep yourself alive, eating and drinking. She told me that she could connect me with a G.P. in my town. Since the G.P. was obviously not an option given the past experience, I decided to ask if I can at least take him with a taxi and drop him at the hospital. Finally, over the phone, I heard the operator’s tired voice saying: ‘Myes, that is fine.’

Receiving the wished approval, I ended the call, called a taxi for my friend and eventually let him in the hospital for investigations. Here the doctors were cautious and took his condition seriously. He had to stay overnight to see if the recommended medication was doing its job, but in the end, he was released in a much improved physical state.