Yet again, I feel the need to apologise for the lack of posts recently, but this time I thought I would share just one of the reasons why I have been away from the computer so much.
Yup, its been more than a little bit cold and more than a little bit snowy. I even got to experience a new weather phenomenon for the first time in my life; that of Thunder Snow – A thunder and lightening storm at the same time as a blizzard!
I was at work on the night shift when the snow started to fall. I won’t lie, it was great fun for a while, then a little bit scary, then a lot of fun again.
Our ambulance, ‘Betty’ (she deserved a name after getting us home safely) performed amazingly as we slowly drove past more and more cars and lorries unable to move through the thickly lying snow. We stopped to help those we could when not on the way to emergencies, but our main priority was not to get stuck ourselves. After all what good would we be to our patients if we couldn’t get to them in the first place?
Over the next few days, the snow kept falling and after the third night, I measured 42 cm of snow at the back of the station, on the road. My service pulled together and I can honestly say that some of our managers went out of their way to help staff get into and out of work as well as helping those of us attending our patients get to and from an accessible road to the patient and then back to the ambulance.
I don’t know how many exactly were hired, but a lot of the senior management team were given short term hired 4 x 4 vehicles so as to support the operational tier do what we needed to do – get to our patients!
My own Manager had only a few hours sleep over the entire weekend due to either helping staff or responding to emergencies himself.
The voluntary agencies were also invaluable to the core function of our service. We had St John, The Red Cross, Mountain Rescue and The Coast Guard all available and working alongside us ensuring that where ever possible, our patients were cared for in the manner that they should expect!
Despite our best efforts though, there were many delays. Distances that would normally have been travelled in 7 minutes were taking 20-30 minutes. Instead of pulling up outside of a patient’s house, we frequently had to park on the closest main road and walk in with our equipment. That in itself was not too difficult, but getting the patient back to the ambulance was another matter, and that is where all of the 4×4’s, our managers and voluntary services came to the rescue.
It has been a tough and long week for all of the emergency services, but I feel proud of what we have achieved for our patients. Of course, our ORCON times will have been possibly the worst that we have ever achieved (our response time targets to Cat A and Cat B Emergencies) but I am hoping that whoever audits these takes into account the difficulties that we, and later in the week, the whole country had to contend with.
I am glad that I got to work these shifts, because I feel as though I was part of something that has given a real and palpable feeling of camaraderie.
The medics, management, patients, families, and other services have all pulled together and we have continued to care for our community despite some pretty horrific weather.
And…….I got a little bit of exercise too!