I wonder how fortunate I am to be working for the North East Ambulance Service?
How many paramedics or technicians who work on the UK`s rapid response/fast response cars hear the words in the title of this post after they have been dispatched to an emergency?
When the ‘front loaded model’ of getting paramedics to patients as quickly as possible in a car, to be backed up by appropriate support (either full A&E ambulance, Urgent ambulance or even a patient transport ambulance) was first introduced it was initially for day time only. It has only been within the last couple of years that we have had rapid response available 24 hours a day.
At the time of consultation with staff and union, there was obviously some discussion about staff safety when working alone in potentially dangerous environments. The results of these discussions provided our control complex with guidelines to what we could attend when working on rapid response.
I am unsure if the other ambulance services in the UK enjoy this protection for their staff, but from what I read on others blogs, it appears not (please correct me if I am wrong).
So what dont I get sent to:
- Any incident which has been identified as involving alcohol
- Any incident which has been identified as involving drug use (illicit and recreational)
- Any incident which involves violence (although I do personally choose to go to assaults as long as the police are confirmed as being on scene)
- Any incident involving threats to self or others (suicide attempts/overdoses)
- Any incident which is located at a flagged address for previous violence or untoward event to staff
- Any incident which the call taker judges to be potentially volatile due to what they hear on the other end of the phone
- Any incident in a pub or a club
Its a pretty big list isn’t it?
However, just because these are what I am not meant to get sent to when on the car, doesn’t mean that I don’t end up at them sometimes. The call handler can only rely on what the patient or caller tells them and what they can hear in the background. I have found myself in some scary places at times and have had to make a rapid retreat from the scene, but I am confident that if the call handler had picked up on it, I wouldn’t have been sent in the first place.
This leaves me free for the ‘genuine’ jobs. The chest pains, abdo pains, trauma, shortness of breath etc etc, and the other bread and butter stuff of working for the North East Ambulance Service.
I can remember one shift where I was working from one of the main stations just outside of the centre of Newcastle, and spent most of the night being sent out, only to receive the message
“Stand down please, this job isnt suitable for rapid response”
over and over again. After about the 7th time, the radio operator came on and apologised and informed me that there just wasn’t anything they could send me to at that time, which goes to show how much of our work is alcohol related.
The end result of this policy is that I truly feel protected as much as possible by the system. After what I read from some of the other blogs out there, Im sure some of my fellow paramedics would like the same offered to them.
I still tend to have a busy night though. If all of the crews are out dealing with the drunks, overdoses and assaults, there isn’t much cover left for the genuine poorlies that come in, and that’s where hopefully rapid response comes into its own. That and alot of driving to other stations to cover their areas whilst they are out!!