This is a guest blog written by one of our followers and was sent into us via our Facebook page, Emergency Services Humour:
‘Hello to the awesomely sexy bunch of boys and girls in green and blue.
I get the feeling I’m going to create a bit of an uproar here.
However before you jump to your keyboards for a side picking battle I want to make it very clear that as a Paramedic of 6years service, I am naturally going to be a little biased.
I fully admit I do not know all of the policies and procedures in place for each ambulance service or police force, and I apologise in advance if I say or suggest something that is not in your power to control.
However the main thing I want to make crystal clear, is that I am NOT trying to have a go at anyone in this post. But anyway, here we go…
Do you need to call an ambulance?
Now don’t get me wrong, I fully appreciate you need to cover your arses.
Again, as a paramedic, I am well aware that CARE now stands for Cover Arse, Remain Employed. I get that you have mortgages to pay, and I know that the public will find any excuse to try and win some compensation. We’re all in the same boat here.
But do you NEED to call an ambulance?
I think it sometimes gets forgotten that we are supposed to be here for the life threatening, or life altering medical complaints, or injuries etc. We’re not a ‘check over’ service, or first aiders.
Forgive me if I do that thing we can all do and that we all hate, and recount some examples of times that another service has annoyed us; but here are a few examples to hopefully let you see things from our point of view:
I was called to a car accident where a young man had been pulling out of his driveway at approx. 5mph, but due to a bottle rolling under his brake pedal, he had been unable to break, panicked, and had slowly rolled his car into a parked car opposite.
Police were called as his car became stuck against the other and it was now blocking the road.
Against the pt.’s wishes, the officer asked for an ambulance to be sent to “check him over”. We arrived. I asked why we had been asked for despite the pt. stating he did not want us.
The excuse I received was that “He may have sustained a head injury, and might lack capacity.”
I was called by police to attend to an ‘unconscious male’ lying on a pavement in the middle of the day, surrounded by cans of beer. Call from member of public. As we arrived on scene, there was no pt., and no police anywhere to be seen.
We asked our control to liaise with police and confirm the location.
It transpired the officers had managed to wake up the sleeping… sorry, unconscious male, and decided to convey him back to his home address.
However, could we now drive to the pt.’s address as they still needed us to “check him over”.
On arrival at scene, I asked the officer why we were needed, and I was told “Well I’m not having him die on my watch”.
What he was going to be dying from, I’m not quite sure.
We were called to a pub, were a man had been pushed over, and had scratched the top of his head on a coat zip that had been hanging up in the corner.
When I say scratch, I mean scratch.
Not deep, not serious, a scratch. Police had sorted out the ruckus and requested us so that we could “check him over”.
Called to a police station carpark, for a young lad with autism, who had become angry in a pub and become abusive to the staff.
Police arrested him. On our arrival, the pt. was still in the back of the police van, and had calmed down.
The reason for our call was because the officer was concerned that he may be having a ‘mental health crisis’.
After a brief chat he was de-arrested and was very apologetic.
Now I’m sure some of you reading this are already getting annoyed with me and defensive, and I’m well aware that there will be many counter stories of times ambulance staff have called you for bullshit, and I will try and address that in a bit too.
Maybe some of the old schoolers are feeling a little embarrassed for the above instances? I really don’t know, but again, to clarify, I’m not having a go… but let me run through a few things here.
I KNOW you have a duty of care to a pt. who has sustained an injury or illness, but a duty of care does not mean they require emergency interventions.
Your duty of care can simply be that you recommend them to “put a plaster on that when you get home”, or “get that checked at A+E or a minor injuries centre”, it doesn’t mean you need to remain on scene and call an ambulance for the ever popular check over.
I know there are horror stories of the ones who slipped through the net, but from a medical point of view, so long as you can justify your actions and safety net both yourself and the pt., you are legally covered.
Again, this does not mean an ambulance is ALWAYS required.
For the record regarding the above, some common sense:
A 5mph impact does not create a catastrophic head injury, and if you think it can, you probably shouldn’t have got the person out of the car and be taking details off them.
If a pt. refuses an ambulance when offered, don’t call us.
We legally cannot treat a pt. if they do not consent. Just document that you asked and they declined.
You can assess capacity. Same way we do.
Scratches don’t require emergency treatment or assessment. They require antiseptic cream and a plaster at best.
Asleep is different to unresponsive/unrousable.
Drunk people are not a medical emergency unless they stop breathing or are in the process of choking on a 2nd hand kebab.
Alcoholism is a chronic condition, not acute.
If you are seriously concerned enough to call for an ambulance, don’t then convey the pt. home. It delays our response as we can’t find you, and it sends one hell of a wrong message.
Autism is not treatable by an ambulance, or A+E department.
A tantrum is not a medical emergency, they need to be talked to and calmed down.
Anyone can do this.
We have no more specialist mental health training than yourselves.
95% of pt.’s are perfectly capable of taking responsibility for themselves, and can make their own way to a treatment centre if required.
Now again, I know that sometimes you are backed into a corner and you need to call us. Either because you are genuinely unsure about a pt.’s wellbeing, or because you are following a policy/procedure.
For example I know that in my patch, we have an agreement with the police that we convey all mental health pt.’s, regardless if you’re 200m from an A+E entrance and they’re safely tucked away in the back of your car.
This is fine. We get it. We all have to go through the same political b_ll_cks. Fill your boots. I know that there are plenty of you who do employ common sense, and wouldn’t dream of doing any of the above, and to you I say thank you.
But ok, lets address what many of you are dying to say:
Yes. We are a bunch of sh__s too. We call you inappropriately, and you can all name stories of times that you turned up, thought we were idiots, and could not discern a good reason for you being there. I know. We’re all guilty too.
Again, sometimes this is because we’re following an instruction from a higher power.
For example, on the way to a pt. who has been violent in the past, we may get instructed to wait for the police before going into their address, even though on this occasion they are stone cold sober, and are nothing but absolutely charming; and I get how frustrating this must be for you, to turn up, knowing you’ll finish late, to find that there is no good reason for being there. I’m genuinely sorry about that.
I also know that some of my colleagues will call for you, because they refuse to go into a dark public park without an escort, or because somebody swore at them.
I can’t speak for these people, maybe they have had a bad experience in the past, but personally, you’re probably right if you feel this is a bit of a stretch of your responsibilities.
Personally, I almost never call for the police, unless someone is genuinely going to require detaining, or maybe to gain entry to an address.
That’s about it. I don’t get close enough to aggressive pt.’s to put myself in harm’s way, and I leave at the first hint of any trouble. I can only apologise on behalf of my colleagues who call you for nonsense, for that reason this post is also aimed at us.
I also know that you are all as stretched as we are.
None of us get standby anymore (or rarely), we’re all fed up of bulls__t “emergencies”, social issues, and inappropriate allocation of resources.
We all feel that the general public are guilty of not being able to look after themselves a lot of the time, and call us to sort out problems they don’t want to deal with themselves.
I’m also well aware that a social media post is not going to fix things overnight or change the world, but imagine if it does work even a little.
If it does sink in to even a few of us.
Even if one paramedic, or one police officer a night reconsiders calling for the other inappropriately, that’s one more resource per service per shift that will be available for a genuine emergency. Now imagine if 5, or 10 do.
I’m being idealistic, but surely it’s worth a shot.
You may now all commence with your counter arguments, complaints and moaning. We all love a good moan.
I’m sorry if I caused any offence, and please understand I’m speaking generally. There will always be instances of times it is necessary, or mistakes have been made.
Anyway… stay safe out there, and remember to put your sirens on at night when you drive past fire stations.’