Once again I know a lot of visitors here are from America – So I'm going to explain how the L.A.S works on a day-to-day basis. This will either be very boring or immensely interesting – your choice.
Ambulances run out of dedicated stations, we don't share stations with the Fire Service. In fact, some years ago, when it was suggested – the idea was shot down as we would be waking the fire-crews constantly during the night. Each station has it's own call-sign “K1”, “J2”, “G4” for instance, then each ambo has a suffix that is attached to this – so one ambulance running out of station J2 would be called J201, while another would be J207.
The stations are spaced approximately 5-6 miles apart, and you mainly service the area surrounding the station, however with inter-hospital transfers and other irregularities you can quite easily find yourself across the other side of London.
It's an old joke that when asking if we need to travel so far the dispatcher will ask us if it still says London on the side of the ambulance
There is a main station, and two or three “satellite” stations, the main station will normally have between two and five ambulances running from it, while the smaller stations have between one and four. There is less cover at night – and you can easily find yourself being the only ambulance running from a given station.
Across London we deal with 3000+ calls per day, and with a fleet of 400 ambulances of which perhaps only 3/4 are manned, meaning we seldom get a rest. Where I work we average one job an hour, and are supposed to transport every one of those patients to hospital.
The longest shift we officially do is 12 hours – in which we can expect 10-13 jobs which doesn't sound like a lot – but is enough to keep us busy…We spend 97% of our time away from station (compared to 3% for the fire service)
For this, we get paid around £21,000, the London fire service get around £22,000 and the police get £27,000 (but lets face it – they earn it…)
However, it is a fun job.