Before I let my pt launch into the long-winded version of what's going on, I ask the required yes or no questions first.
"Hi, Mr. Smith, you're calling about abdominal pain today?"
"Ok, really quickly I'm going to ask you some yes or no questions that will help me determine how urgent the situation is. Do you feel cold and clammy, feel like your heart is racing, you're breathing fast or that you're having any mental status changes?"
"On a scale of 0-10 with 0 being no pain and 10 being the worst pain you could imagine, how would you rate your pain?"
"I'd say about a 7."
"Is it so severe that it prevents you from bending, walking or working?"
"Yes, it hurts when I walk."
"I feel a bit feverish."
"And if you were to point to where it hurts, where would you be pointing?"
"Just below my ribs on the right side."
This takes about 1 minute, then I let them tell me what happened, when it started, what it feels like, what makes the pain worse/better, etc. This seems to cut down on the pt's narrative a lot by getting some of the key things out of the way. Hope it helps.