Inter-Service Relationships

Four jobs into the shift and none had wanted to go to hospital, it was a mix of the uninjured and the ‘can’t be bothered’.  This is not normally a problem, but in this case my crewmate really wanted to use the toilet.

“Two people stuck in a lift for two hours, one has collapsed.  Fire service on scene”.

Great…this could take hours.

So we dutifully made our way to the train-station when the lift was stuck and, after traipsing around a bit carrying our kit, managed to find the affected lift.  There were a couple of firefighters, some station staff and three lift engineers.  It turned out that two teenage boys had been jumping around in the lift causing the emergency locks to jam, they had been stuck for two hours and were making a lot of noise.  From the shouts of both of them it was obvious that neither of them had ‘collapsed’.

There was little for us to do while waiting for the engineers to free the lift apart from chat to the firefighters and watch a fireworks display going on across the river.

Twenty minutes later and the lift was freed and the two little hooligans rolled out.

“Who’s gonna take us to get McDonalds?”, were the first words out of one of the boy’s mouth.

No, “Thank you”, no, “Cheers for getting us out”, and definitely no, “Sorry to waste all your time”.

We told the boys to…ahem… ‘Go home’ and set about packing our gear away.

One of the firefighters turned to us, “Fancy a cup of tea back at our station?”.

My crewmate still needed to use the toilet so we agreed.  A quick drive to their station to ‘use their facilities’ and a nice cup of warm tea.  Excellent company as we put the world to rights and five minutes later we were back on the road ready to continue.  It was handy of them to offer us the use of their station as it was a lot closer than our ambulance station, so we were back on the road quicker than we could have been otherwise.

I’m occasionally dismissive of the fire service (mainly because they don’t wave when we drive past each other), so it was really nice to be human to each other.  And while I do take people as I find them, a simple cup of tea has meant that I can look at some of them in a much different light.

We should do it more often.


Actually I think that we should have rideouts between us, the fire service and the police – it’d only help to improve our working relationships (although us ambulance people and the police tend to get on well anyway due to us often attending the same sorts of jobs).

32 thoughts on “Inter-Service Relationships”

  1. Tom, I remember you were here in Seattle. When I dialed 911 (Thought I was having a cardiac episode-but I was actually blocked intestinally-man! no one figured it out for a couple days AFTER the 911 call)-anyway-a fire truck turned up. And fire fighters treated me.This happens here all the time-the fire dept shows up, either in a truck or an aid car, with EMTs. And I think EMTs are stationed in fire houses.

    If you aren't critical, they call the horrific (privatised) ambulance service for transport. They get lost a lot. If you weren't critical when you left the scene, you may well be by the time you get to the hospital.

    I can't remember-did you get a chance to check out the emergency services here? Do a ride along? Contrast and compare?

    If you don't have time to answer something you've already posted, a link would be cool 🙂

  2. cures all ills.All we needed as kids, was either tea or vicks!

    'got a broken leg?, dont worry have a cuppa'

    'got TB?, dont worry rub some vicks on your chest'

  3. Got talking to one of the lift engineers that services the lifts for a block of flats I do some work in (a lot of our microwave kit lives in the lift plant room of multi-storey flats).Apparently, what they do when kids have been messing about and got themselves trapped in the lift is, they go up to the plant room, shut down the affected lift and set it to hand-winding mode as per normal, and then…

    … break out the tea and sandwiches, switch all the lights and intercom off in the lift car, and leave the wee buggers there until they have finished their lunch.

  4. Ahhh, tea. The cure for all that ails you. We go through gallons of the stuff in this house, and I would always offer tea to anyone who visits from plumbers to EMTs.I'm glad you got to improve your relationship with a local fire crew, but just one question – is there any specific rule or reg that prevents you guys using public toilets while on duty, or is it the just the generally unavailability and unappealing nature of them (and the lack of tea making facilities)? Or perhaps the general busy schedule?

    This reminds me of the spiked coffee episode of “Saved”.

  5. I am a student nurse in my first year of training and would like to say a big thanks to everyone who posts on here – I find your comments thought provoking and interesting and, a lot of the time, lol funny.I just wanted to say, re inter-service relationships, I have just finished a week of IPLU (Inter Professional Learning Unit) which I found both useful and frustrating. Useful because, as a nurse, I will be liasing with paramedics, social workers etc, and IPLU has given me some insight into the kind of work they do, the frustrations they might have etc. Frustrating because not everyone feel the same way – some people can be so insular and think they are the only profession that matters, or incredibly lazy and let everyone else 'carry' them. It takes all sorts, I suppose.

  6. Corner of Woodgrange and Romford road. You know……where the alcoholics congregate.

    (Public toilets, couple of off licenses, churchyard to sleep in, cafe should they feel hungry, plenty of people to call an ambulance and a pub where people get stabbed to death).

  7. “mainly because they dont wave when we drive past each other” – I did a transfer into London last week, and none of the LAS crews we passed waved back as we passed them. Are you guys too posh to wave to out-of-town crews? 🙂

  8. Sometimes I struggle to walk, due to disk problems in my lower back. Struggle as in can't, but have to. I grab a walking stick and get by.(shrugs)I look fit (and indeed, FIT lol) but support anything that makes the lift destroyers have to eat their own effluvia.

    Oh, also I acknowledge and follow the laws of my country, but if I didn't I'd ram big, sharp, rusty spikes into them. A bit like Vlad Dracul, bit with a limp….?

  9. Our crews probably thought you were a johnny motor, that or one of the private amulances.Terrible faux pas to wave to *them*…

  10. Crikey… I must admit that as I have a bladder capacity of a very small gnat, I probably know every toilet wherever I go, including stations, supermarkets, eateries, pubs, and considerate shop owners (which includes various parts of London in the past, but not Tom's patch). However, when the only options involve drunks and stabbings, I can't say as I blame you for not stopping off.I shall be sure to remember to offer the facilities, as well as tea, to visiting ambulance staff should the need for a 999 call arise in the future! 😉

  11. a friend of mine was telling me about a time when she was staying with her in-laws, she had pnd at the time, and was sitting on the bed sobbing her heart out. Mum-in-law came into the room, looked a bit fazed for a second then said, “how about I make you a nice cup of tea?”I personally don't like tea – maybe I should start drinking it anyway!

  12. We used to have to do standby outside the fire station near my ambulance station and if there was a certain fire fighter on he would always bring us out a brew. In fact he said one day “If we'er not in the satation and the truck is there I only live round the corner come round to the house and I make you a brew”. He's good old boy as they say round here. I dont normally have much time for Trumpton but they do have thier uses and we have a specialist crash tender on our area and the guys who crew it are brilliant, they all have long service and no ideas above thier station,no pun intended, the guy who'd brew up for us was on the crash tender.

  13. I'm a 1st year student paramedic and I'm also doing IPLU. The general opinion about IPL is that it's an absolute pain in the arse, and a waste of a Wednesday afternoon.Insular maybe? But we've got more than enough to do without being forced into pointless exercises with fellow health professionals who mainly just sit there wishing themselves somewhere else. At our IPL meetings the majority of the group sit still and say nowt…you can feel the waves of resentment coming off them.

    I'm not a fan of IPL myself, but I smile gamely and get on with it….. but if I could drop it, I would……before you could say 'insular'.


  14. Many Fire Departments in the US provide EMS services also. Some function as first responders, waiting for the private ambulance service to do the transport. It varies widely from city to city. Fire Department of New York runs its own ambulances (although private ones also exist in the city). Boston Fire Department sends an engine for the medical call and dispatches a private service with the ambulance.Things are pretty similar out here in the 'country', although most full time staffed departments operate both as EMS and Fire and have their own ambulances. My department is mostly volunteer based, and as such we have separate Fire/Rescue and EMS (although many of us are on both).

    As far as working together, I'd say (at least in this neck of the woods) we all get along very well. Everybody waves at everybody, although there is a distinct lack of tea.

    Hope that answers your question.

  15. I know of a few stations up north where the ambulance and fire services share the same station. And they love to take the p*ss out of each other but got a good working relationship. It's an interesting situation and I'm sure for emergency planners, makes multi-agency exercises a run a bit smoother.Tom, I have to say that your book might have contributed to bruising a woman's breast. To cut a long story short, I had a stack of book in my rusack, and it fell off my shoulders squarely onto her left “feature” as she was sitting down next to me. Not one of my best moments…

  16. I must have been lucky – everyone (bar 1) in my group of 12 were keen to be there and could see the point of being there. Pointless excercises? If it enables the paramedics/nurses/doctors/social workers of tomorrow to communicate efficiently, how is it pointless? No health care professional is an island and we all need to be able to work as part of a team. I intend to become the best nurse I can be, and I believe IPL will help me to achieve that.Have a guess which professional in my group didn't want to be there…..? Yup, you guessed it, the paramedic – is it endemic?

  17. well, “how about I make you a nice cup of tea” won't exactly cure PND, but it also won't make it worse… It's a nice way of someone showing they care without going OTT.

  18. Coastguard… the forgotten emergency service! As you live in an area where you don't come into contact I suppose I can cut you some slack! But the not very nice truth is that the relationships between our operations rooms are sometimes “strained” to say the least.We tend to want to get ambulances for remote areas, often they have to wait around as a rescue is a very unexact science time wise and they moan at us because we do not know the post code for piers and jettys. It can get ugly. Liaison is key.

    If you know what someone is doing and why it makes everything easier for everyone.

  19. On the night my dad died, two Fife Polismen were in the house to do their bit. (and very nice blokes they were too) In our family, when it all goes pear shaped, the kettle goes on, although we generally have to hunt around for extra mugs. The two Police were too polite to commment on the fact that they were served their tea from the last two mugs in the cupboard – complimentary mugs from The Adult Channel!And how they ended up in the cupboard is another story altogether…

  20. We wave to everyone, Johnnies, privates, out of towners, steelworks ambulances, Trumpton, Plod and once, embarassingly, the pet ambulance for the vet surgery near the hospital! Well it's white and has AMBULANCE on the front.

  21. Agreed, the world's much nicer if everyone drinks from the same cup of tea….I am a junior ED doc with an interest in pre-hospital care so have been out with BASICS docs, ambulance techs and paramedics, and soon will be having a day out with the police. It really helps you to understand the pressures everyone else is under. Now all I need to do is find some friendly firecrews (and clearly coastguard too!) Here's to the Power of Tea…

  22. re: firemen not waving – when was the last time you waved to them? in a previous life (ie, when i used to work for the london ambulance service as an EMT) i heard lots of techs and paramedics (and police, for that matter) complaining firemen were unfriendly, rude etc, and that they never waved when passing. so to make a point, next time we passed a fire engine, i waved – and everyone in the front seats gave me a cheery wave back.each and every time after that i passed a fire engine i waved and they waved back without fail.

    maybe they think you're being rude for not waving. whatever. anyway, i always found firefighters to be lovely people – just misunderstood 🙂

  23. Here the game is to take the lift, with a trolley in it, up to the top level of the carpark, and then leave the trolley in the doorway of the lift so it holds the lift open and on that floor.Then they walk down to the shopping levels of the centre and laugh at the people waiting for a lift that will never come. Yes, including at those with wheelchairs, pushchairs, walking sticks and so on.

    Which at least is a good indication that it is time to leave the queue and try and find some help.

  24. Glad you wave at us johnnies, When we are out in our vehicle, we always wave at anything that kinda looks like an emergency vehicle. You never know when the crew of that vehicle are gonna be there to help you out. A collegue of mine and I stopped to assist a RRV one day to a guy with his head trapped under the front wheel of a car. When we explained that we were amb trained SJA, the paramedic stood up and said do you want to take a look. A preceeded to let us get on with using the vehicle jack to relieve the pressure ( they guy had a crash helmet on and he was just wedged not crushed or trapped from that point of veiw). We could have just driven by and left the Paramedic on his own wondering what to do. I don't care what service people belong to if I can be of assistance, I can only improve our working relationships. I would say about 70% of LAS cres give us the nod or wave as we pass.

  25. Hey there, I was really shocked to hear the relationship between LAS and the fire brigade isn't close…. I work for GWAS (formally wiltshire ambulance) and one of our stanby points is the salisbury fire station, we have a very warm reception… tea, cakes, even chilli on our night shifts bloody lovely! Its the police we don't have the best time with… IGNORANT! But most other things are the same, read ya book and related to it… GREAT! x

  26. Well I just think you should all do a calendar together – that would surely help bond, rubbing on the fake tan…?Okay, stupid post, trying to wash the “ghosts of the past” out my head…. still, Harry Potter in cosplay mode? :o)

    With hoses? What's not to like…. [gets banned from entire internet for inappropriateness]

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