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.