photo.jpgSo, apparently it snowed a bit in England, and in some places it is still snowing.

And so we find ourselves watching the TV with indignant sounding news presenters asking those in power 'Why wasn't something done!'. Sadly none of those being interviewed gave the answer I would have, “How much extra tax would you like to pay so that this one in twenty years event has no impact on your life?”

We aren't Russia, or Denmark or any of those cold countries, and the cost to fully prepare for aberrant weather conditions like this would be too high.


It did seem that the London Ambulance Service was a bit unprepared. Did you know that we don't have anything to go on the wheels of an ambulance to stop it slipping in the snow? We have some covers for the officer's cars, but nothing for the vehicles that actually take you to hospital. To be fair, I'm not sure if this is economics, or down to a technical issue that they aren't able to be fitted by staff themselves.

The other problem that I heard over the radio was that some hospitals have ramps leading to their A&E department, and that the ambulances weren't able to climb them – so at least one 'blue call' had to bypass one hospital and head to one further away, one that had a ground floor entrance.

If you look closely at the ambulance on the right, you can see that it's a bit damaged. What you won't see is the damage caused to my ambulance by some idiot driving into it (and I'll tell you that story tomorrow).

Locally at least, we do have more blankets than we had this time last year, so it's not all bad.

The snow did seem to have taken LAS management by surprise though – there was only one Duty Station Officer covering the entire East side of London. Given that we were the third ambulance to have an accident, and that an officer should deal with each of those I would suggest that the next time severe weather is predicted the resourcing of officers might need to be improved a bit.

It was also about midnight when 'Gold Control', the people who normally worry about how much of our ORCON targets we are hitting decided to suspend the rest break policy. The message that was sent down the vehicle computer terminal seemed to suggest that forced overtime would be compulsory.

I doubt that that was the case, but it's definitely what it read like.

As NeeNaw says,

I’m watching the TV before my nightshift tonight. They keep saying “the ambulance service is under severe pressure and will only respond to life threatening calls”. Surely we should only be responding to life threatening calls anyway?”

Which is sweet, but I suspect that, were I working tonight, I'd still be going to the usual twaddle of runny noses and one instance of vomiting.

17 thoughts on “Snow”

  1. It said on the news that the police had over five hundred 999 calls to report people throwing snowballs, so you are obviously not the only ones to have a different definition of 'emergency' to the general population…

  2. the las sounds like north carolina: half an inch of snow & hysteria sets in followed by the complete collapse of normality. at least in conneticut, snow is expected, & emergency services are staffed accordingly.

  3. I was really quite annoyed with management regarding the rest break incident! It seems that all crews were told that they weren't getting their rest break at some time in the afternoon, but when the control night turn arrived we were told to give rest breaks as normal – but didn't bother to tell the crews. All they got was a message down the MDT which I thought was worded in a very negative manner (something like “If you refuse your rest break you will be expected to work on until the end of your rostered shift” rather than “You can opt to miss your rest break and work overtime until the end of your rostered shift if you want”) and meant that I had the same disgruntled with about 10 very annoyed crews during the course of the night. As I said to one of them, I didn't choose this job to become a rest break monitor and it is really about time the service starts allowing crews to manage their own breaks like grown ups (which is mentioned in the New Ways of Working).Rant over, the rest of the snow ridden night shift wasn't too bad on the north east, but I still hope it melts soon!

  4. Yep – whoever writes those messages down the MDT needs to take some time to edit what they write, it's often not clear what message is being sent.I'll be posting another confusing message in the near future…

  5. Slightly off topic, but I managed to confuse the living bejasus out of one of my crews recently, when I was trying – possibly too quickly – to advise them that the police had arrived at the location, and it was safe to enter.Unfortunatly, the message that appeared in front of them was “POO ON SCENE”

  6. Whaddya mean you “suspect” it would be the usual twaddle of runny noses? Experienced medical professional like you? With all that cold and snow, there are bound to be more runny noses.I was looking at the BBC pictures on Sunday (snow is always wonderful in pictures!). It didn't seem that most people even have snow tires, and sand trucks or snow plows seemed scarce. As you say, bit much to have on hand for once in 20 years. And all I could think was, “Flying Spaghetti Monsters! Monday rush hour is going to be INSANE!”

  7. In the northern part of the states, as well as most of Canada, we keep chains available for the tires. They're cheap and can be installed and uninstalled in a few minutes.

  8. 15 years ago I used to run my delivery vehicle on studded snow tyres, through the winter, but that was up in the hills not London, I doubt you can buy them now in the UK, we've had little 'serious snow' for so long now that we have enough hassle getting hold of a 'mud and snow' tyre (which is now a better option for us.) than a studded one

  9. Think that's bad? Try here in California, in the Central Valley. A rogue snowflake freaks people out. And don't get me started with black ice and fog. A little preparation goes a long way…(We have chains for our ambulances, but don't ask anyone to actually put them on. I think my business partner and I are the only ones in the company who actually know how to!). Not that we need them much, but that said, I am going to Death Valley on Friday, and winter weather is expected.

  10. So I wasn't the only one thinking would it really be worth spending millions etc to deal with one off freak events however I do think when things get updated etc they should look at preparing for freak conditions etc whatever they may be.As for calling 999 and only dealing with life threatening & serious incidents well that should be fairly obvious but sadly it isn't in the real world. I was so close to calling myself yesterday morning with silly asthma but lots of nebs (I never could count when it comes with ventolin) & situation was averted.

  11. Although this may have technically been the worst for 18 years there wasn't THAT much snow and the same chaos reigns whenever there is ANY snow.personally I don't think it's all that much to do with spendina fortune on dedicatd teams waiting to leap out and deal with it whenever it happens but a few sensible measures that people have just forgotten about. for example my local overground station (whcih is entirely outdoor) had no grit and the staff evidently had no brishes or shovels to clear the platform of snow and ice (and this was on tuesday) surely these items are pretty basic bits of kit that could help keep london moving

  12. TomMust be nice driving those automatics gearboxs and rear wheel drive 5 ton vans in weather like that.

    Would do your 8 minuet targets the world of good.


  13. I still think it is a bit rich listening/watching the BBC asking people who have to go out in the cold and do stuff why they weren't doing it better. This from an organisation where the Director General is paid three times that of the Metropolitan Police chief and yet they still can't run a dancing competition.

  14. If it's any comfort, the first big snowfall of the year creates chaos even in the biggest city in Norway. It's like we forget from year to year. The people budgeting the winter “snow-removing” have for some reason been led to believe that global warming will take winter problems away. Not in 100 years, but right now *sigh*.The snow in London and Paris has been all over the news, pictures of cars stuck and kids playing. I've been thinking of you guys, this must make your job a whole lot more difficult. At least we are prepared and have the necessary equipment (including tyres).

  15. Likewise, in Russia winter doesn't fail to catch entire country by surprise every year. We prepare for it, we budget for it, we KNOW it's inevitable but then it hits and things go haywire for a week or so.Hey, tried fitting the tyres with chains? Well I suppose may not work well on paved/concrete surface roads.

  16. Living near Chicago, I must say that reading that Norway and Russia have the same problems with first-of-the-year snow driving is oddly comforting.It's not just us.

  17. Mind you you'd think that the areas of britain that do have snow more regularly would be prepared to a smalld egree.hahahahhahaa…hahahahaha….hahahahaha! Yeah right!here i work in a rural bit of our lovely isles and do we have 4x4s? do we fk! i asked the CEO and he assure me they would be on order and then that they were on order.I have since heard that the order was cancelled because they were too expensive.Yet it is cost-effective to have a fleet that can not go across half the terrain on our area? ye gods! give me strength.Whilst studded tyres and chains must not operate on ordinary road surfaces 4×4 vehicles can (see chelsea tractors to back-up that comment)Never mind that one of the greatest 4×4 vehicles to ever come in to existence started life in this country.Thank goodness St John's (? st andrew's too?) have more foresight!Glad you're in one piece anyway, TR!! :0)

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