A Small Rant

Now, I accept that in terms of the human body and the weird and wonderful things that it does, I am an expert. I have training – intense training on all functions of the body. I have training on the effect that drugs and chemicals have on people. I am aware of the natural progression of the normal life cycle.

I'd like to think that some other people might have a basic idea of such things – I know we don't come with an operators manual for this sack of meat and bone that we drive around, but I'd like to think that at some point you get the general gist of certain things.

Perhaps you might even recognise in another person something that you may indulge in a little yourself.

So it annoys me somewhat when I'm forced to drive, at speed on blue lights, to something that I know is going to be nothing serious. Especially when there is an adult who can be deemed intelligent enough to be responsible for forty other people already on scene.

It annoys me that some companies write prescriptive policies that rely on 999 emergency services to do their work for them in the name of 'risk management'.

It annoys me when workers for said companies refuse to step outside their policies for cut and dried cases – when they are so fearful of being disciplined for doing the right thing that they need to call an emergency ambulance to do something that all two year olds can do.

It annoys me that our computer system (and management) in Control won't allow a calltaker to use their common sense in grading a call's response, resulting in me being a threat to other road users as they send me haring off on a call apparently only a smidgen less serious than someone who is dead, and about as serious as someone having a heart attack.

And much more 'important' than a gran with a broken hip.

What didn't annoy me was the patient – he'd had a little bit to drink but wasn't unconscious for it. In fact he'd done something that I've done myself in the early hours of the morning.

He'd fallen asleep on the bus.

I walked up to him, said hello and shone my torch in his face. He opened his eyes, looked around apologised profusely for falling asleep, then walked off the bus.

The bus driver looked sheepish.

It drives me bloody crazy – a person falls asleep on the bus and the bus driver isn't allowed to touch them. They call for an ambulance and because the patient is 'unconscious' it's a top priority call. Because of the eight minute target we are forced to respond at speed, ignoring other, almost more certainly deserving, calls. We get to the scene and wake the 'patient' up, often they are drunk, but sometimes they are just tired. We are then forced to do a full work-up on them and take them to hospital (unless the patient refuses).

I personally do at least one of these a week if I'm working late or night shifts. Often it's more.

Now, despite what our policy says, we'll normally persuade the person that they don't want to be checked out and go to hospital – this is because we have 'common sense', sure we could be bitten on the arse by thinking for ourselves – but I'd like to think that I can recognise the difference between someone who is about to die and someone who is merely asleep.

Unfortunately this common sense doesn't extend to bus drivers who are scared of accusations of assault.

We ambulance types often work outside our policies sometimes because it's in the best interest of our patients, sometimes because we would otherwise be without food and drink for twelve hours and sometimes because it's just the right thing to do.

(An example, we are supposed to wait for the police to turn up at violent incidents – if it's in a public place that we can safely reconnoitre I'll not bother waiting for the police, if it gets hairy we can always drive away).

Or maybe the drivers are scared of being assaulted themselves, in which case lets call for someone who's job it is to get assaulted, what with our intensive training of 'run away! run away!'

The LAS sometimes suggests that certain calls are unnecessary and would be better dealt with by a GP or Walk In Centre – perhaps we might try an education campaign directed to bus company executives and drivers, explaining that it is often possible to wake someone up without needing an ambulance for medical support.

16 thoughts on “A Small Rant”

  1. My Father is a bus driver – with some of the areas that he has to drive into I wouldn't want him having to wake up some of the less friendly customers that get onto the bus for fear that they would knife him.My dad on the other hand is a trained first aider (yes, yes mock him if you will) but he has common sense. When an old lady slipped on the bus he gloved up (i thought it would be a good idea for him to have a pack of gloves in his pocket cuz you never know) and he elevated the lady's leg and applied pressure until it stopped bleeding and then asked if they lady would be happy to be taken to a GP surgery which was two stops on as she agreed (and he had a witness) he drove her there and apologised to the rest of the passengers and then advised his boss. Instead of my Father being praised by the company he was given a written warning which was only withdrawn following a letter from the family and the Nurse that dressed the lady's leg.Had they not had the courtesy to write, my Dad would have been punished for using common sense.I can understand your frustration though.

  2. I've always found this one of the more ridiculous products of being risk averse. On the Underground these calls come to BTP (we go from one to the next for a couple of hours every Friday and Saturday night when the trains stop), but we certainly don't go on blues and twos. We just go there, wake them up, ask them if they're OK and then walk them to the nearest bus stop.The only time I've ever fallen asleep on a night bus, the driver very kindly shook my arm until I woke up and sent me across the road to get the next bus back the other way. It's depressing to think that he was putting his job at risk to wake me up.

  3. I know charging for ambulance services is not really a great idea, since it puts genuinely ill people off, but maybe this is a case where it would work. I believe the fire brigade have a policy with public buildings, that if a fire alarm is set off accidentally – repeatedly – then they charge a fee of about 100 I think. Maybe you could have a similar arrangement with bus companies.I somehow doubt that just asking execs to behave responsibly is going to work! Call me cynical!

  4. Rather than copy/paste the article, this link to The Death Of Common Sense says it all:

    The Death Of Common Sense

  5. Okay, so they are not allowed to TOUCH a person, but surely there are ways of waking up someone sleeping without touching them? (Hey, alarm clocks do it all the time!!!). Would it not be prudent for the driver to make a loud noise before calling an ambulance? Okay, so you mught still get called out to some deaf, tired people, but it might cut the incidence…

  6. That is unreal. I think that there is less and less of life l fit into. The more l hear of the stupidity of the rules that come out.

  7. Probably afraid of legal action. You've seen the adverts on TV.”Had an accident after falling asleep on the bus? Get the compensation you deserve, by suing the backside off the bus driver who woke you up.”

  8. This should be a big rant.There is a risk to having ambulances racing around which is much greater than the risk of employing common sense when somebody falls asleep on the bus. Those in management are trying to cover their own backs by increasing the risk to others. This is unacceptable. They should be held to account over such selfish policy making. You should post the names of those responsible.

  9. I have had, on many occasions, to wake up passengers on my bus. Whilst most have been roused fairly easily, sometimes with the help of other passengers, it is sometimes necessary to get assistance. However we will call on the police in the first instance, mainly as they will have the manpower to assist if the passenger becomes abusive or violent. Certainly any call to emergency services would not be made under a 999 and would only call for ambulance if there I had a genuine concern.Our company advises us to avoid any confrontation with passengers and call for assistance and would take action against anyone would physically removed any passenger, but otherwise seems to have a more common sense approach than alot.

  10. I was absolutely appalled to read of your father's experience. True he might have inconvenienced the other passengers, but quite frankly if they needed to be somewhere that urgently, public transport wouldn't be the way to go.It's completely ridiculous that someone gets disciplined because they've helped someone in a straightforward and sensible manner.

  11. I woke someone up on the bus just last week, young lad still deeply asleep, earphones in, at the terminus – bloody hell, think I should turn myself in to the rozzers?!This is way beyond stupid, and I agree it's well into territory of causing more harm by calling you folks out.

    I was just catching up on http://nannyknowsbest.blogspot.com/ (hope it's okay to post the link, I'm nothing to do with them) and some of the “health and safety” stuff is appalling.

  12. There seems very little point in doing a First Aid course if you are not prepared to 'risk' carrying out the most basic elements of assessment, however, as a trainer when students raised concerns I often referred to a 1917 story by Rudyard Kipling about the effects of stress on troops in WW1.He suggested that the safest way to awaken someone who might react violently is to approach from behind.

  13. Bus drivers could be issued with a decent aerosol klaxon to blast at the turn around of each route.Unfortunatly, if people are discouraged from falling asleep on the bus, they'll just fall asleep on the street and still need a big yellow drunk bus to pick them up…

  14. So what happens if someone is genuinely unconscious on a bus? Are bus drivers told not to do any first aid at all?

  15. Hi just a small reply to your rant, i'm a bus driver and a red cross volunteer and i will wake people up on my bus normaly by giving them a little nudge..I was appaled by the reply where the company reprimanded a driver for assiting an elderly person, i have actually stopped my bus and got out to assist an incident in the street and as i am in full uniform my company has no problems as this is good for thier image..

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