Where Are The Paramedics?

Related to the previous post.

Today (on a short shift) I went to six jobs.

One was genuinely and seriously ill.

One was a walking wounded.

One was a no-show.

…And three were maternataxis.

One of the maternataxis, who lived 600 yards from the hospital not only got an ambulance (with a paramedic on board), but also a FRU (with another paramedic). So that is two paramedics for someone who not only walked, but had contractions that could be measured on a calendar.

Even the midwife at the hospital shook her head in disbelief.

So this is one reason why there are no paramedics (or ambulances) to deal with the real stuff.

I think it's time to start charging maternataxis; a bit more than an equivalent taxi fair would be reasonable.

27 thoughts on “Where Are The Paramedics?”

  1. Some years back we got a call from a pregnant woman claiming to be having a vigorous bleed.We arranged for an ambulance to pick her up to be brought into the maternity, worried she was having an abruption.

    It was a small nose bleed.

  2. Hmmm. I spent most of yesterday hanging about in A+E waiting rooms (entirely not my choice). The amount of utter crap that people were coming into an ACCIDENT and EMERGENCY department for just made me angry with society as a whole. The girl of about my age who told her parents “I had to get an ambulance to bring me in because my stomach really hurt” then proceeded to scoff chocolate raisins, crisps and apple juice. I guess at least she was dumped there and not given a cubicle. Daft cow. It is all this crap, the utterly inconceivable (to you and i and our brethren) reasons for seeking emergency healthcare that break this service.

  3. What si it that's turned us into a nation of winging cry-baby wimps? We never had this years ago. Today it's the ambulance service is a taxi for (of their own choice) drunks and preggers women agonising over the slightest twinge. 'I must have an ambulance. It's my right.' they cry. In China the women rice pickers had they sprogs and were back in the paddy fields the same day.Britain is such a nation of pampered softies.

  4. I must be getting old.The only time I called an ambulance was when I had a


    It never occured to me, aftr I'd been to the doc's for a *leak* when 24 weeks pregnant, I just asked if i could phone hubby and we got a taxi.

    Luckily for us, we went to the Ipswich hospital, where

    the next day little Tracey arrived just 1lb12oz!!

    She is now nearly 18 years old.

    So HUGE thanks to the nhs. and the wonderfull staff.

    Sorry i know that is off topic, but credit where it's due.

    I too watched the programme and also read the big article in the daily mail.

    Whatever they say, I still believe that most ordinary people, respect, and appreciate what you do.



  5. Out of interest, is the maternataxi thing just a problem in London, or Nationwide?Maybe i should change my user name, cos i am not any more. How does very wobbly tummy lady sound?

  6. Last month (despite knowing I was waiting for heart surgery at the end of April) I called my brother when I fell ill at home and he took me to casualty. There I was admitted with a suspected heart attack. The results showed and severe fibrillation and I was admitted and had the heart surgery planned for two weeks time.No ambulance involved.If I can do that, why can't a mamby wimp do the same (or find their own way to hospital) for their hurt finger caused by an over zealous nasal delve.

  7. Hmmm, having had to take a young woman in my car half way across Manchester with my lights flashing (refused ambulance) who was suffering from 'twinges' at 23 weeks, only for her to be promptly laid flat on her back while Manch special baby unit faught to keep my god-son where he was supposed to be for another week and a half (after a long long journey he is now 18 months old and fine but it was touch and go), I am inclined to side with a pregnant woman.There is not one taxi firm I have ever used who will carry a woman in labour (try it and see, you won't get one!) Women with first pregnancies do worry, sometimes unnecessarily, but with no medical training so would you 🙂 If indeed you are stuck with no car, and no public transport options then who are you supposed to call? I agree not all cases are needful, but some genuinely are – so perhaps avoidance of generalisation would be more caring? (a soon to be Dad).

  8. Not only in Britain, but I think that “ambutaxi” is worse.In lots of cases, the patient is waiting for the ambulance on the road, with tons of luggages, with his/her relatives following us by car.

    At the question: “Why did you call an ambulance instead of a taxi/mover?”, the answer is one of the following:

    1. If we get to the hospital by ambulance, I get visited before the others.

    2. The ambulance service is for free, taxis are not.

    3. The “Professor” is waiting for us to perform our routine check-up in that hospital 15 miles from here, and, you know, there's a lot of traffic today…

    4. The GP told us to call an ambulance to get to the hospital to perform some urgent analyses.

  9. I agree that there are instances where it is impossible for a woman in labour (even the early stages) to get herself to hospital and as a LAST RESORT maybe an ambulance is required. It's the fact that many use it as their first option because they haven't bothered to make plans, because it's cheaper or because they're plain stupid. I'm sure that the ambulance staff don't mind attending someone who maybe didn't need an ambulance but was genuinely scared and over-reacted. It's the lazy ones who treat it as a taxi service – these are the ones who need to be tackled. Although I'm not sure how – “treating” laziness has always been a tough one…

  10. Here in France lots of the taxi companies have got a “seated medical transport” licence.I guess the drivers get some formation (they need to have a first response certification), the taxis are licensed by our NHS equivalent, and you get all or part of your money back as you do when you pay at your GP or hospital.

    It's used for example to go to the hospital to get you in and out for a surgery, chemotherapy, consultation etc…

    This cancels the “ambulances are free, taxis aren't” argument.

  11. I do think the suggestion made before to have a dedicated “maternataxi” service is a great idea. There is hospital transport for people who would find it hard to get to hospital for treatment, so something along those line for women in labour would surely make great savings?Like others have said, its nigh on impossible to find a taxi service that will take a woman in labour to the hospital. And, when you live somewhere like London, the option of friends with cars is pretty much out of the question.

  12. I agree that sometimes igts difficult to get someone to take or to get a taxi if you can't afford it or they refuse you…..but that is actually a very SMALL % of people who just think “oooucch i have a twinge” and then run to dial 999!!I have to share this one with you…..I received a call yesterday to say “I have lost my boyfriend…he just disappeared.” NOW what exactly did she want me to say to this?? Who ever made 999 so damn easy to dial?!

  13. I work in a rural area, and do get annoyed by the maternataxi jobs that I get sent to. As some people have said it's not the jobs where things have happened a bit quickly or the patient is worried something is not quite right, it's the ones who are blatently using 999 because they haven't made any effort to arrange anything else – after all they've had nine months to plan! My average journey to hospital is around 15 miles, and often I'm on the only ambulance in the town, so including on scene time that will usually take the ambulance away from base for about an hour and a half. If anything else happens in town in that time the next nearest ambulance station is 15 miles away next to the hospital. Justifiable for a genuine job, but not when the patient doesn't appear to have a single contraction all the way to hospital. I've actually seen midwives tell people off for calling 999 when they arrive at the delivery ward, and been told that when the patient phoned they said they were getting a lift in…well I suppose they were sort of.Interestingly none of my pregnant colleagues in the ambulance service ever call 999 when it's time – they do everything they can to avoid that!

  14. I just wanted to say, I'm halfway through your book 'Blood, Sweat and Tea: Real-Life Adventures of an Inner City Ambulance' and I absolutely love it. The way you write reflects the true personality of a human rather than an object in society that is expected to run around clearing up everyone else's mess. It is witty, entertaining and at times emotional, the perfect combination for a fantastic book. Definitely my best purchase so far of 2007. Keep up the wonderful work, both as an author and one of L.A.S' finest.

  15. None of my sisters or sisters in law have ever called an ambulance for labour, even in the middle of the night when their waters have broken and the father is on nightshift. As already mentioned, advanced planning is the key, and surely everyone knows someone with a car.My sister in law in Norway went into labour long before she was due. The temperature was -30 and my brothers car wouldn't start. They had to flag someone down in the street to get help.

    The males in the family tend to be a little accident prone, getting their heads bashed with garage doors and then walking in covered with blood. Mum calmly mops the blood up to see “what the real damage is” as she puts it, and then drives them to hospital if it's needed.

    Mr Man cut his arm open with a stanley knife when he was on home leave from a psychiatric ward, so I wrapped his bleeding arm in a clean towel and drove him back to the ward.

    His Mum has called me in the middle of the night with laboured breathing saying “I can't breath”, so I picked her up and drove her to the hospital where she was admitted for about a week.

    And then I read on here that some people call for an ambulance for a nose bleed.

    And when my newborn baby nephew couldn't breath properly and needed to be admitted into hospital there were no beds so he had to go to a different hospital further away, but his parents were told that there were no ambulances to take him, so he had to be driven there by his uncle (my point being that he may have needed medical assistance on the way there).

    Isn't it about time we had a Panorama program about the abuse of these services?

  16. May I ask a question? (At the risk of sounding thtoopid-) Why is it that it isn't drummed into people that they shouldn't call an ambulance unless they REALLY need one? I'm thinking of those public service 'charlie says' style adverts and maybe at least a reprimand for calling an ambulance for a nose bleed etc.. Is it because the NHS fear that people will NOT call an ambulance because they are afraid to and then people end up dying? Is it maybe that people are so stupid they can't be encouraged to think for themselves and the NHS can't afford for it go the other way- i.e “well, his head's fallen off but we didn't call an ambulance 'cause we didn't think it was serious enough” – appreciate there's not much you can do if that happens but you see my point!? Or is it more to do with economics?

  17. While I have seen the occasional ambulance person have a bit of a go at timewasters, most won't say anything because they are afraid of getting a complaint. The people who call ambulances for stubbed toes and other rubbish are usually the ones who also 'know their rights and pay their taxes', and are the first ones to be on the phone to HQ complaining about the 'attitude' of the ambulance crew. Even if there's not much substance to the complaint it will still mean an investigation, lots of paperwork, a few interviews and a load of stress and hassle.

  18. “and surely everyone knows someone with a car”You're right, I do. The fact that those people are a 3 hour drive away doesn't matter.

    When you live in London, its very likely you don't know anyone with a car. I am the only car owner out of our entire circle of friends, and one thing I am quite sure is that I would't want to be driving while in labour!

  19. Were I live alot of the clubs have a policy that if someone becomes unconscious (passes out pissed) they call an ambulance. Shamefully I experienced this several times when I was 18 (a spate of drunkeness that last 7 months) (adding to the stats pathetic pissheads that end up in A&E). Quite rightfully I got a bollocking on all 3 occaisions *hangs head in shame* off the nurses and admin (don't remember the ambulance part). Feel extremely sorry for those who had to deal with that and the realisation of how much time it wastes. I used to go with the theory that a night in a&e and the humiliating moring awakening was still less humiliating than what I had to go home to….getting beaten up etc etc. Then I grew up and got a life! And moved out and never visited a&e again.Also, friends of drunk people see it as an easier way to deal with a pissed friend and carry on with their night. I would never call an ambulance for myself unless it was a life or death injury.

    Personally I think a drunk charge is in order. Or the question of what the fuck are you playing at…? Is there something wrong or are you just a pathetic piss head? I go with the drunk charge twud be a good idea!

  20. It's not just the crews' time that is wasted by these calls. so is the call centre staff (possibly even more so as they weed out the obviously pointless). It's not unknown in my part of the world to be put “on hold” on a 999 call.Having said that, on the few occasions I have need to call an ambulance for people I know, I have had no problem with response time or care received – whether it was a paramedic or double-technician crew. tbh, sometimes I don't even notice whether or not I have a paramedic. On one occasion, patient had been advised by consultant to call ambulance if acute attack lasted more than 30 minutes. Even the, patient waited 75 minutes and considered whether it would be better to go to hospital by car.

    BTW – you mean “taxi fare” not “taxi fair”.

  21. Hiya,I'm just reading your book, and its awesome. I feel for you i really do. And having not long ago had a baby feel much better for not ringing for an ambulance! Women are stupid in most cases…i think it might be the hormones! i know some babies come quicker than others but i certainly knew i had plenty of time. Anyway i think you are hilarious and will be reading your blog from now on. Keep it up it satisfies my nosiness.Take careElaine

  22. In London, there are certain women who ring the hospital maternity department, to ask what they should do, as they are having contractions 1 hour apart, who then suffer from a little know medical condition: Maternity Deafness. This condition manifests itself by the patient not hearing certain words. The midwife/sister/staff nurse says “Come to the hospital as soon as you can, but dont call an ambulance.” But the patient only hears: “Come to the hospital as soon as you can, call an ambulance.”

  23. Me me me! I tell people! Right up to having a stand up row with a woman in clinic once who was insistent that her going into labour at term WAS an emergency. I was very certain that, caveats aside, it certainly was NOT. But if you get a taxi it costs and if you drive there is the congestion charge… Grrr.

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