One of the bizarre things about the Ambulance Service is that, in the eyes of the government, we are an “essential” service but not an “emergency” service. We are “essential” because the emergency services (Police, Fire Brigade, Coastguard) are run by the Home office – Ambulance services across the country are run by NHS trusts, and as such do not have access to the same resources as the true “emergency” services. The distinction is often slight, but can sometimes have quite important considerations for our safety.
Last night was a case in point – we were called to a patient with abdominal pain, however further information was given that the patient could be violent. There was something in this information that triggered my “spider-sense”, so I was happy to wait for police assistance to arrive before approaching the house.
Four police turned up, normally only two are sent to assist us – and they told us that their computer system, and their personal experience with the householder showed him as a nasty piece of work. We followed the police to the patient and they told him that they were going to search him, and that they wanted to put him in handcuffs first. The patient had obviously been involved with the police before, as once he was handcuffed they checked to see if he had any new warrants out for his arrest…
Searching him they found a large stick, and a rather worrying looking (5″) knife on his person.
All through this the “lady” of the house was shouting abuse, mainly at the patient, but occasionally at the police officers present. One quick examination later showed nothing life-threatening, so we offered a trip to hospital that the patient accepted. However as we left the house the woman shouted a few final obscenities at the patient and he told us he couldn't be bothered to go to hospital and stalked off into the night. (This was not a problem for either my crewmate or myself).
Police computers had information that he was dangerous (a number of rather vicious assaults) but our computers aren't allowed to have such data. A police dispatcher has told us that they have all sorts of information on addresses, from animal liberation protesters to members of Parliament. Again our computers don't have any information of that sort unless we enter it manually after an ambulance crew has been threatened/assaulted.
Needless to say, one such report has been sent to central office.
Tonight was exceptionally foggy, and while we were kept busy, the only job of any real note was when we stumbled across an RTA, where the driver had swerved into a fence at approx 40mph. He was rummaging in the wreckage when we found him, and refused to be assessed. The last we saw was him rapidly disappearing over the horizon. The police were not amused – but (surprisingly for our area) it looks like the car actually belongs to him. So now he'll be summoned for leaving the scene of an accident, as well as any other driving offences the police decide to throw at him.