The London ambulance service is normally pretty good for supporting their staff through some tough times, but at the end of the day it comes down to the management on the ground, tonight was a case in point.
A crew had to deal with one of the worst jobs you can get – I won't give any details, but I suspect it will be on the news tomorrow. Just imagine the most heart-wrenching thing you can.
One half of the crew is fairly new staff, he's a good bloke who knows his stuff, but this job was so outside the normal, it had obviously shaken him up (and I would suggest that anyone not at least a little shaken up by this job is someone who has lost all sense of humanity). The hospital involved offered a chance for a 'debrief', which is when they sit around a pot of tea and discuss the job, dealing with the feelings that everyone has. Not many hospitals do this, and I'm very happy that they included the ambulance crew in this session.
A Station Manager was working, and his advice was to 'return to base for two hours and have a cup of tea', which isn't helpful at all.
Every other crew rallied around and made sure that the crew involved was alright, and a Duty Officer was called – he spoke to the crew and stood them down for the rest of the night – doing something that the Station Officer should have done hours earlier.
The reason why we are stood down is because after dealing with such a ghastly job if your next call is to someone with bellyache for seven days, there is a strong likelihood that you will say something to the patient that you will regret. I know I've done it when I worked in hospital, and luckily gotten away with it.
So, there is support, it just depends on who is on duty that shift.