We Are Not The Police

Police could do more to protect ambulance crews in certain situations, a new report has claimed.

In one example crews were forced to break into a house to rescue an elderly woman when police were not present.

I'd rather they didn't, I really rather enjoy the odd chance to kick down a door to save someone – it makes me look all heroic to passers-by.

(It's also good stress relief).

On a more serious note though, I have noticed that us ambulance folk are being used to cover manning* shortfalls in the police. On more than one occasion over the last three days I've been sent to 'Assault – possibly people hurt, no police units to send', because of the way the text is formatted we know that it has come straight from the Police control room.

Some crews will refuse to go to such situations, thinking quite rightly that the assailant may still be in the area, so they will wait for the police to attend in order to make sure that they are safe. Myself and quite a few others tend to 'feel out' the job before asking for the police. '20 Eastern Europeans fighting each other with machetes in the street” is a bit different to “man kicked in testicles by girlfriend”…

So we roll up to the address to find no-one particularly injured, certainly no-one who needs any hospital treatment. Then we get raised eyebrows as they were expecting the police to arrive, not two blokes in green carrying bandages. Then they try to involve us in the petty domestic dispute that started the fight – something talked about of Copperfield's or the Inspector's blogs.

I understand why Police Control do this – they have no units to send and they know that we go to everything (just like themselves) – but it's not really a good use of our resources. We still have sick people waiting for ambulances and yet we are going to places where there is no confirmation that someone needs medical treatment.

So we attend the 'scratches' and the 'Chinese burns' and the 'light bruising', fill out our paperwork and are unavailable for up to an hour. And you can't blame the patients because they wanted the police.

On the flip side, something that I'm more than happy to run on because it's my job is people who call the police in a panic for a medical emergency. Strangely enough the last two seriously sick children I've been to have presented like this, the parent called the police and shouted down the phone that their child was dying. So we arrive around the same time as the police.

So what is the solution? How about the Home Office paying for an ambulance crew to be on secondment with the police, even one ambulance person in an FRU. Then they can go to such calls with the police and they decide if the person needs to attend hospital, or can be treated at home or via GP. If the patient needs an ambulance then they can be used to take them to hospital, or in the case of an FRU, can call for another ambulance. It would be cheaper than increasing the total number of ambulance crews and police in order to meet demand – something that they are loathe to do.

I know the LAS can't afford it (more on which in a later post), so it would need the Department of Justice helping out the Department of Health. Or is that sort of thing not allowed?

*Sorry – resourcing, not 'manning'. I didn't mean to be sexist.

17 thoughts on “We Are Not The Police”

  1. In Israel, calling 100 gets you the police; calling 101 gets an ambulance. People have managed to figure out the difference. Perhaps what you need are two numbers, and a public education campaign.

  2. Good ole ambulance service – not only do we endure 999 *plop calls (*'non emergency' for all you non ploppers) from members of the public (who we're supposed to pressume are all thick and “don't know any better” than to call 999 for cutting their lip on a Quaver etc etc etc) but the Police have been using us for a long time to fill in where they are unable to.I could be really sarcastic and say it may be due to the fact that they send unmpteen rescources to a detail, but I shan't…

    Your quite right Tom in that the Police manilpulate it/phrase it in such a way that it is essential that an ambulance be in attendance.

    Ethically it's wrong, morally it's wrong and professionally it's all wrong.

    More pressure exerted on the ambulance service to meet another target (which isn't ours to meet), more pressures on the crews …..

    But let's face it, who exactly are the tw*ts here – the Police for being so frickin manipulative and cheeky or the ambulance service for being so lame for accepting and allowing this crap to continue?

  3. Here in the States we had a big push to get “security” equipment to ambulance crews after so much money got churned out post-9/11. In Vermont, a friend's ambulance company was providing bulletproof vests for all crews (the cow:human ratio in Vermont is significantly in Bovine favor, and the risk of being shot is quite small). My friend, a paramedic, told his boss that he wouldn't need a vest, since he has all the safety equipment he needs to deal with a shooting scene already in his ambulance. When the shocked boss asked what that equipment might be, he replied, “binoculars.”

  4. “But let's face it, who exactly are the tw*ts here – the Police for being so frickin manipulative and cheeky or the ambulance service for being so lame for accepting and allowing this crap to continue?”Neither – it's the government for not giving enough money to either service to be able to have the resources they need to be effective.

  5. I second this. Splitting the numbers of emergency services may provide the much needed relief to the control rooms in determining which service to dispatch first – SWAT team, ambulance or fire service (incl. if it's a cat stuck on a tree, coz they have the ladder!) – as people would dial the appropriate number to start with.In Russia there is 01 for fire service, 02 – police, 03 – ambulance, 04 – gas emergency. However we're getting the media stories that ultimately the govt is moving towards having a single Emergency Number 01 for all cases… I already feel this is gonna be one of the many disastrous reorganisations the country has experienced lately :(.

    Tom, do ambulance crews like yours get any “policing” gear to keep in the van just in case? Like a baton, sprays… otherwise really why does the control room send you to calls that almost 100% sound like there may still be a hostile situation going on..?

  6. I am glad you decided to do a post on this, I touched on it a few blogs ago but said I would leave it for another day, and that day has come…..In the region that I work, we too have similar situations that we have to deal with. A lot of the time there are no police to send or such like so we have to deal as best we can. A lot of my colleagues (me included) won't go near a “naughty” job without the police in attendance, we have loved ones at home that we like to see when we have a chance, so we won't risk number one for anyone.

    However it is frustrating when we are sitting round the corner for an age waiting for the police to attend, but we can't blame them as they are just as stretched as we are. I have spoken to several officers who all concur that if we have done our “risk assessment” and do not feel happy attending without them then call them, they would rather be there for nothing, than turn out later to a fatal stabbing or something more gruesome. So when in doubt we ask for the police to attend.

    In answer to a previous comment, we don't carry any “police” gear whatsoever. I like to take an portable O2 cylinder in when it sounds iffy and there are no police to send, that way if the patient needs O2 they have it, and if we get jumped, I can give them a short sharp wallop with the cylinder if I really have to and then leg it…..

    It is a dangerous world out there, I have been in a few “naughty” situations, two of which have resulted in me “legging” it one of which had me cornered and after a few rapid pushes of the panic button on the radio have had a prompt response from the boys in blue. Its not a nice feeling to have, and definitely not a situation I would like to be in again. Its harder when you are responding on your own in an FRV (which I was on the last one I mentioned) but now I just have the one outlook – if it sounds dodgy and my “spider” senses are tingling, then I am not going near it till I have some support from the guys with the armour and batons.

    Going back to the post that I first mentioned this, there has been a few occassions when the police won't travel in the back with us. Now I have heard several excuses, one of which is that they are not insured to do so (anyone from the police reading this I would like to hear if this is correct or not) now we only ask for support like this when we really do not feel safe. I have only been refused once and they followed in their patrol car. Now nothing happened, but the guy was known to carry weapons, but no search was carried out and its not something we can do.

    I don't know if there can be a solution to this, the more I think about it, the more I believe that it all depends on the guys out on the street. The two that didn't come with us were out of area and I have never seen them again since, the ones we come across all the time will never stand back and leave us if we ask them to stay.

    Sorry guys I kind of went off topic a little then, but it is a situation that I think a lot of the crews (up and down the country I would like to think) have a hard time making a decision about. I like the idea of the police riding shotgun in an FRV, anyone would be welcome in my car when its a weekend night, but the problem with that is that car is only going to be used for “fights” etc, which takes away the point of an FRV in my book. Tom's idea of a dedicated Ambo is also a good idea, but they can't sort out the funding for the “normal” service……

    Unfortunately I don't think there will be a solution in the near future, society has changed ten fold as I have grown up, maybe it always used to happen but I never heard about it, but certainly in recent years I have seen a big change. I don't think there is any point in changing the number for emergency calls, the “public” get worried and panicky about calling 999, without them having the decision of which service they want before they call the number. The emergency operators are clever folk (in my view) and once they have heard the situation that the person is in can usually get the right service running.

    I don't think I have helped this debate have I? Sorry

  7. Isn't the Department of Justice actually a Ministry? For some reason, if you take a Department (of Constitutional Affairs) and a (National Offender Management) Service, it turns out what you're left with is a Ministry.Personally, I think they called it the Ministry of Justice because it sounds like something from a George Orwell novel and they want to make us all scared of them…

  8. I like to take an portable O2 cylinder in when it sounds iffy and there are no police to send, that way if the patient needs O2 they have it, and if we get jumped, I can give them a short sharp wallop with the cylinder if I really have to and then leg it…..Ahh.. the BOC CD Cylinder.. the universal door breaker, self defence weapon and oxygen delivery device.. šŸ™‚

  9. Thanks JunkMonkey, but I was venting and letting off steam. It was more of a cast away comment and I wasn't actually looking for a proper answer – but thanks for taking the time

  10. You must work for a posh ambulance service having CD cylinders.Only our 'Paramedic officers' have those.

    I gest not!

  11. Ahh.. the BOC CD Cylinder.. the universal door breaker, self defence weapon and oxygen delivery device.. :-)Ahh, you forgot the universal cruise missile as well, should you break the valve in just the right way!

  12. A bit offtopic this comment is gonna be, but it somehow I feel relates to the Ambulances on the Frontline situtation where crews' safety is on the line.Today's local newspaper reports that a crew of four, including a cardiologist, was dispatched to a call from a bank to “a collapsed female customer”. As they drove on blue lights all cars gave way… except one exceptional Schumacher-wannabe who drove his car into the side of the ambulance van. Result: various injuries among medical staff and the offender himself slammed himself hard on the windscreen (it's rare in this side of the world to spot anyone fasten their belts in vehicles). The ambulance driver reported the incident to the station who have dispatched another crew to the initial call… on arrival they discovered the “patient” didn't require any assistance, as she only had a headache(!)

    Yep, it's a warzone out there. War of stupidity and inconsideration against common sense.

  13. I don't think I've ever heard our Service being described as “posh”.. “Failing”, “underequipped”.. yes.. “posh”.. No..!

  14. Not being funny, but exactly the same happens to the police from the LAS. We frequently get calls that are routed straight from LAS control to police control rooms, not at the request of crews. I've often been sent to a call to assist an LAS crew and found them perfectly happy wondering why we've been called. I don't resent going to any call where an LAS crew requires police but just to point out that this works both ways….I enjoyed the book by the way, see you at the RVP for the big job…

  15. Hahaha, I have a few of them in the back of my car! And I can tell you, carrying 6 of them at once is hard work. Not one to be repeated. (restocking after home birth).

  16. If your username is not just a cunning ruse, then I would say that we work in the same county! Having read through many of the comments here I cannot say I'm surprised and would agree with most of what was said; not enough troops for the job being the main theme.As a copper I work with you guys most days and enjoy doing so as you have developed exactly the same cynical sense of humour as us. The specific complaint you mention above the “not insured” bit is a load of bull. I have never known any of my colleagues to refuse a request from ambo to travel in the back. The only possible exeption to this would perhaps be firearms officers. If you think about it the excuse makes no sense; they're not driving your vehicle are they? Perhaps they reckon that your insurance does not cover the carrying of “passengers”, however you regularly carry relatives so perhaps he/she'd drunk too much red bull!

    On another note what powers of entry to premises do you have? I only ask as I'm surprised that I often have to turn up with my big red key for both you guys and Trumpton; Or is it that you want us to secure the premises after? Not having a pop, just genuinely curious.

    As for the joint police/ambo unit I doubt very much if that is a home office priority!! We have had paramedics on “ridealongs” with us though, and they were very handy indeed. Its a shame that we don't intermingle more at a local level. I'm sure that you would have info we'd find interesting and vice versa. After all on some nights we do the same job – you deal with assaults, and I have to use my extremely poor medical skills!

    Anyway, good luck to you. I'll probably see at the back doors of A&E for a fag and never realise its you.

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