What has happened here is tragically sad and my sympathies go out to the family.

A GRANDAD lay dying of a heart attack in his home — while a paramedic stood outside for 16 minutes filling in risk-assessment forms.

And last night Roy Adams’s heartbroken daughter Sarah claimed he would still be alive if there had not been a delay.

She added: “It’s awful. The medic could have saved my dad but instead he stood outside for 16 minutes. All that crucial time was wasted.”

I'm yet to see a 'Health and Safety' form that we fill in on the road – yet more 'Sun' exaggeration. But then they do seem to have a real hatred of people actually being safe at work.

When I was working solo, you made your 'health and safety' assessment in your head – if it felt safe to enter on your own then you would enter, if there was something about the call that made you nervous, then you would wait for backup. From the story in the newspaper, it would seem that the solo thought it was unsafe to enter – but after waiting sixteen minutes for a police escort to arrive, decided to enter on their own.

Probably what happened was that the solo wasn't happy to enter on their own for whatever reason, waited for the police and after they didn't turn up for a while entered the household at their own risk.

From the Times Online article about the same job.

The ambulance service spokesman described the risk assessment as a “mental checklist” which included considering the safety of the scene, types of risk and whether extra help or equipment was required.

“We have a duty of care to treat patients but we also have to look after our staff,” he said. “In this case the medic conducted the assessment, had safety concerns and decided to call for back-up.”

Well done that 'spokesman' for getting the real situation across to at least one paper (even if it is the toilet paper 'The Times')


But it's not just about the poor reporting – what really sticks in my throat is the comments by the Great British Public who take the rubbish that is printed in the Sun as gospel. When every story becomes a trial by media it's interesting how quickly people are to judge something based on 380 words that they have read in a tabloid paper.

this idiot should be given life in prison

This medic should be struck off straight away, no questions …

Typical Britain today,what a b****y disgrace, everything is Health and Safety, Hitlerite jobsworths …

These people want us to risk our lives to save them when they make comments like that? What next? Moaning because I have two perfectly good kidneys and I should give one of them up for transplant so that someone else can live? Offering to be stabbed in place of someone else because we 'save lives' and are 'paid for it'?

How many of these commentors, after seeing the damage a knife can cause, would volunteer to walk into a place where there is a real fear of losing your life. They are very brave sitting behind their keyboards, but I bet they couldn't walk a mile in our boots.

And calling us 'Hitlerite' – well, I hope that whoever made that comment makes that viewpoint known to any ambulance crew that comes to help you in the future…

I do despair sometimes.

And should the Solo be vindicated, how many column inches would the Sun spend on that?

25 thoughts on “Waiting”

  1. Ambulances take time to arrive and sometimes people retreat back to bedrooms because they feel safer there.Even if you feel awful however unlocking the door is essential because medical staff must be able to get inside in order to help! My wife suffers from acute allergies (requiring Epi-pens). When she has had to use one whilst at home alone she phones 999 and then ensures the door is unlocked just in case she collapses before help arrives.

  2. I woder if the address had a history, what the area was like and if (sorry neenaw) control had passed to him that they had instructed the door be left open. Is this SOP Tom?

  3. Look Tom, listen to the tabloids, for they are wise and all-knowing. Of course people who were not there, have not been trained, have never come across that situation or even anything similar, know better. I mean, how cound you even question it?

  4. What a stupid article. I feel really sorry for that poor medic. He must feel guilty enough about not going in earlier without The Sun blaming him. Why should he have put himself in danger? If he'd been assaulted like this FRU medic would The Sun have reported on that?Of course, this is another reason why we should have less FRUs and more ambulances. It's just not safe putting someone out on their own.

  5. The version I got was that the family had been told to leave the door ajar for the paramedics, but when the solo got there he or she hadn't been told about that and thought it indicated someone had broken in. And might, possibly, still be inside. All sounded a bit muddled to me: where were the family all this time?These are deep waters, Watson.

  6. But also the medic would have known it was not unusual, sounds like that was irrelevant then. I bet he had another good reason to suspect there may be a safety issue. Thanks neenaw 😀

  7. I'm hugely grateful for the inside perspectives of the emergency services provided by both you and NeeNaw. The stories a by turns fascinating, extraordinary, and sometimes heart-rending. It's reinforced my respect for paramedics everywhere.I had cause to call for an ambulance last Saturday; I'd just finished at OpenTech and was heading for some much needed rest when I came across an unconscious man on a back-street pavement near Leicester Square. It seemed to end well, but I like to think I Sucked Less At Being A Caller because of the awareness I gained from your writings.

    (I really must get around to buying your books..)

    The techie in me has one last thought: Could it be helpful if, having once pinpointed the location of an incident, a 999-operator or paramedic-on-scene could press a button and send a flash message to the phones of anyone within, say, 50-100m, telling them someone's hurt and the medics on-site could use a hand?

    With modern phone tech it should be possible, and the Solo medic in this case might have felt safe enough to try saving the poor chap's life he'd known that he had the immediate close support of half the neighbourhood behind him.

    (Hmm, you'd probably want to vet people before setting them up to receive such pages — there are people who might try to take advantage. CRB checks first?)



  8. “Roy Adamss heartbroken daughter Sarah claimed he would still be alive if there had not been a delay”Since his daughter is capable to working this out, it's a pity she didn't use her extensive medical knowledge to do a bit more to help. By the sound of it she had diagnosed the problem and worked out exactly how long he had left.

    And if you think I'm being rotten to the berieved – who do you think told the Sun ?

  9. We had a an incident here a few months ago where an FRU had done a risk assessment of the area and chose not to enter without Police back up, the guy had been beaten up and he was a known name shall we say!The battles I got into with the total ignorant tw@ts on the local newspapers comment section, they really didn't have a clue.

    I would like to believe the medic in question did it for the right reason as the one here did.

  10. What is the situation regarding open doors, Tom? Is it standard practice to leave a front door open -and if so presumably there was some other reason -not mentioned- for the responder to believe they might be in danger?It does sound as if the Sun (surprise surprise) is only telling half a story -and obviously the most emotive half at that…

  11. The people who posted these comments in the sun have to list their screen name, country and favourite football club……..nuff said

  12. Take it from where it comes, Tom. Those of us with a brain in our heads have the utmost respect and admiration for the job that you and your colleagues do.

  13. Our EMDs have the same training, to tell people to leave their doors open.Before collapsing, he left the door on the latch as instructed so they could get in

    I've always found it odd that people who call that they can't walk or move are able to unlock the door and then go back to their bedroom. I think that if they are able to unlock the door, then why not wait outside or right inside the hallway. The extra exertion can't possibly be good.

  14. I'm not a Sun reader and I obviously dont know all the facts of this case, but I'll tell you this much; I'd be bloody furious if this happened to my father. I'm sorry, but to be told to leave the door open and then for the medical chap not to enter because the door was open, beggars belief. It's all very well getting on your high horses because this story was reported badly, but I think if this happened to a relative of yours, you would be asking some serious questions as well.

  15. Hey Tom,If you haven't, you should read Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged”.

    The slow dissolution of the world by those who believe that want equals needthat because they want, they should have, without regard for respect or moralsare the same forces that are forcing the emergency services into self-defence mode. In Dublin I've read reports of the fire brigade and ambulance being called into utopian 1960s mass-housing units, being barricaded in and then stoned from above.

    What do you do when you have to deal with people who shirk all moral responsibility and see other people's skills as belonging to them? How do you react? And how can papers like The Sun not be called out by those in charge of the ambulance service. Isn't this slander or liable?

    I think it's a shame that society has sunk to such a low level that an ambulance worker has to do a safety assessment when his sole reason for being there is to help. The emergency services need to start an education campaign on the level that Sun readers would understand which shows how life would be if there were no emergency services.

    Something along the lines of “You need us, we don't need you. Give respect to the people who risk their lives to help you.”

    That or maybe the journalists at The Sun should be exempt from emergency treatment? See how they like it.

    Demand respect Tom. Challenge a journalist to a debate on the merits of how they've helped the world.

  16. Tom,I learned a long time ago not to read the comments associated with online news articles. They only make me more angry, especially if I know the truth behind the article.

    Don't let it get to you. Your counterpoint and explanations are the best thing you could possibly do.

    (And I know, it's ironic to voice this opinion in a comment.)

  17. we're here discussing waiting and come to the same conclusion. He wouldve put his head in and yelled cos someone called the service so why would he have thought break in still going on! Must've been a real safety issue cos he's only not going in if there's danger really

  18. Of course if the paramedic had gone in the house and been assaulted, it would barely have made the local papers, let alone a national tabloid.

  19. People are stupid. They'll happily believe what they read and react to it. We're all guilty of it from time to time. Just not normally so thoughtlessly. I feel sorry for the paramedic. He must feel bad enough already without being judged by idiots.

  20. Sounds like a breakdown in communication, but who will get crucified?Has anyone known sh*t to travel skywards?

  21. Many years ago, my crewmate and I attended an assault call. On arrival I grabbed the bag and ran in the house, while a violent confrontation was taking place between teenagers at a house party without any adults supervising.I entered the property, and identified a semi-conscious male as needing urgent help. On rendering aid a group of youths, who had not finished with the 'victim' started setting about us with lumps of wood, and any other weaponry at hand. But for my crewmate (who wisely called for urgent police attendance), screeming like a banshee and waving a traverse iron ubove his head, my wife would have been a widow.

    My assailant(s) were taken into the 'gentle custody' of the police (bless em), and removed, while another vehicle had to be called to take care of other casualties.

    My reward for rushing in.

    1. Treatment for blunt trauma injury

    2. An almighty bollocking from the boss

    3. Tears from my wife, and horror on my childrens faces

    When push comes to shove, those who have the qualities to work in the emergency services will do all they can. However, somewhere a line has to be drawn.

  22. I saw another story in the paper yesterday though that might indicate that some believe ambulance personnel have superpowers.A taxi driver had tragically decided to end his own life by fixing one end of a rope round his neck and the other to a post then driving off at speed.

    A fellow driver heard the bang as the car hit something, went to investigate and found the driver in the front seat and his head loose in the back.

    He then called the police AND AN AMBULANCE!!! Now THERE is a man who has complete belief in the powers of the ambulance service!

    Personally I would just have thought the coroner would have done, freeing up the ambulances for those that could be helped, but…

  23. I reckon it may well have been the police dispatcher sending them along – I know that in my part of town they'll call us for anything that has the slight chance of injury.

  24. Sometimes the police operator forwards calls to us, sometimes they process then just send us a message on the CADlink. If this was the case, the fru would have had no way of knowing that the area was clear, save for calling back the desk…and we know how difficult it can be to get a response.As for the safety and risk “hitlerite jobsworths”, if that shining beacon of journalistic excellence (the Sun) were actually concerned with the physical violence statistics, they would see that there is more than solid reason for crews, particularly lone workers, to be cautious. Safety and Risk do what they can to reduce those risks. Trying to prevent a collegue being stabbed, spat at, or even killed, is hardly the action of a “jobsworth”.

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