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.