Just time for a quick one (I'm working twelve hour shifts at the moment and am spending as much time as possible asleep).
I get a call to a stabbing in a park. Not as nasty a stabbing as they can be, but bad enough to have me sweating a little while chanting my mantra 'scoop and run, scoop and run'. I like to get people in this sort of position to hospital as quickly as I can, I'm not the gung-ho type to perform surgery in the back of my ambulance, and that is what this patient needed.

The job is going remarkably smoothly – a team leader on a FRU was already there and was of the same mind as me.

So, we are just doing the needful things before we can move when an officer from another complex turns up.

“Can I help?”, he asks.

I let him know that we are going to be leaving soon as there is little that we can do for this patient besides get him to hospital sharpish. So no, thanks for the offer but we have things under control.

“I notice you haven't got epaulettes on”, he says.

I'm cutting the patient's clothes off (to make sure he hasn't been stabbed anywhere more serious than where he has already been stabbed), so I throw the comment that, yes, I know – but the were in my car when it got nicked and I'm waiting for some more.

He mutters something, but to be honest I'm not hugely interested. I've put in memos, spoken to my officers and I'm still waiting, it's not my problem any more.

(Also I'm wearing boots that I bought in good faith so I could get back to work, but our office has lost the paperwork on them so I'm £60 out of pocket until they decide to pay me for them – I might threaten them with not turning up to work wearing 'personal' footwear – that might get a few cogs moving).

We get the patient to hospital, the patient should be fine.

Now, I'm not saying that proper uniform isn't important. Personally I think that crews who don't tuck their shirts into their trousers look awful, it doesn't give us a professional look. Likewise, epaulettes are important as they are the marker of our 'rank'. It's just that there are better times to bring this up with a crew than when we are dealing with someone who might die in the next few minutes. Especially when the officer in question doesn't know us at all.

I'm not the only one who gets pulled up for uniform while doing something a bit more important.

17 thoughts on “Priorities”

  1. Kinda like the old SJA uniform — the shirts cant be washed at 60 degrees (Which is why new greens are coming in, because they can!)

  2. I've been dinged over the years for a few uniform “boo-boos”…Wearing my sneakers (My boots had gotten bloodied up on a previous call and were not bloodborne pathogen or waterproof… this was in 1983, when AIDS was freaking everyone out)

    Wearing “faded” BDUs (They had been washed ONCE… they weren't faded at all – the guy was just being an a## looking to write up anyone)

    I had a cop just recently ask why we don't have button down shirts (We wear a grey tshirt with the company name and logo, our rank (EMT), navy BDUs, and black boots). “Sir, I am working at an outdoor event, and I am extricating people from bushes, ravines, and roads. This IS my uniform, and it serves us extremely well for what we do.”

  3. A crew were doing vehicle manoeuvres. The driver was in a t shirt with uniform shirt hung close by. They took a shortcut and met an unmarked car full of officers coming the other way. On the single track road the officer driving very kindly (tho seemingly with some irritation) gave way to the larger vehicle. The driver of the ambulance waved a thank you and they passed. The driver's colleague spotted that atleast one of the passengers in the rear of the car was not wearing a seatbelt. Silly but there we go. The crew arrived at their destination to be met by another crew who said that Control were on the phone for them. Driver took the call and was queried about uniform. The driver had been reported to control for not wearing their shirt. The Control officer was actually embarrassed but had little option but to pass on the words of the more senior (certainly NOT superior) officer.1. i do believe looking right is a good thing

    2. the public just want someone to turn up who can help regardless of what they look like

    3. any doubts about who they were would've been allayed by the fact that they would've turned up in a rather large yellow vehicle bearing lurid battenburg markings and lit up like a flippin' christmas tree!

    4. it takes 10 seconds (at most) to pop on a shirt… which can be done whilst exiting the vehicle to move to the back doors or side door for extra kit that may be needed.

    It really is about… priorities!

    'scuse the sound off. It's a bugbear of mine and just another illustration of the nonsense that some have to put up with

    Having up to date uniform issue wouldn't go amiss either!

    Oh and did i mention that atleast one of the officer's wasn't wearing a seatbelt thereby committing a moving traffic offence?… hmmm!

  4. Reminds me of being pulled up for the colour of my tights (black!) while doing CPR. I'm not sure my patient, or indeed his relatives, much noticed the colour of my tights, but my manager sure did!Thank god for trousers.

  5. Could the “officer from another complex” be offered a CPD session on Tact and Timing perhaps??! I feel this should be compulsory if he felt that what he said to you was the most appropriate under the circumstances. How ridiculous.

  6. When i was in the Air Force, i remember being on guard duty, when an Officer appeared( who was known to be an arsehole), he started to tell me off for not wearing a tie ( we had received permission from the SWO)I explained “with all due respect Sir”

    a. I had a loaded 7.62 SLR in my hand

    b. My orders were to shoot to kill.

    c. He was drunk

    “you were saying Sir”

  7. Up here the uniform is a bright green jumpsuit which I guess is practical but whenever I am ill my dog hates people in green !!I used to like the shirt and tie uniform but as I said it can't be very practicable for you lot to work in ??


  8. RE: Marks of titles:In the days of 3 bob a day Tommy Atkins, it be easy, if it moved , salute it, if it was stationary, paint it and if it be green take out thy nail scissors, snip it.The noncoms or commission ones must be noticed for their take charge attitudes. A simple comment on the dress mode, be more provable than noticing if thy give thy a patient the correct tender care.My sin of failure to salute one with pips whom was disguised in civvies by wearing a blazer, got me charged for this dereliction of duty, it had to be dropped as I did quote the Regs correctly but it did get me posted to a deserted desert outpost for 30 days, never again to be allowed to near the div HQ.

  9. Oh, come on. Since when did a patient's life come above having your uniform complete with epaulettes?You should have inspections at the start of every shift to see you are all correct in apparel and the uniform is clean and pressed. It must be colour co-ordinated and designed by the most creative Paris fashion house.Making sure the ambulance has all the correct equipment and it's in full working order is secondary – nay, irrelevant.

  10. This is what I call “I've got the key to the paperclip cupboard ” mentality. I can think of plenty of examples of similar petty mindedness in nursing,especially from a useless breed who were called “Nursing Officers”. I once stood in for one on night duty, the bleep only went off once and it was the cleaner wanting the key so she could clean the NO's office! Another time one of these told me she didn't answer her bleep straight away in case it was a doctor who might think she wasn't busy. I agree with you about uniform but there's a time and a place eh?

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