I Would Walk 5,000 Miles (Because I Keep Breaking Down)

Vehicle Failure

We have a lovely new ambulance at West Ham station. They are quite nice actually, there is much more leg room so it means I don't think I'm stuck in an economy airplane for twelve hours.

They have groovy new electronic systems that talk to you and do things like turn off the lights in order to save battery power – it only sometimes turns off the lights when you really need them.

It has the new electric trolley-beds, which I'm yet to encounter a problem with, although I'm sure that it's only a matter of time before the batteries that drive them start to fail. Maybe I'm being cynical.

The biggest problem is that the engine is incredibly underpowered. There is no acceleration to it at all, and it's that acceleration which you need when you are coming to a stop every five yards as you weave your way through the London traffic.

Sadly it's not there, and it sometimes feels like you need to get out and give it a push.

I blame the LAS management wanting to save money, and the environment – after all they do try to have us out driving around aimlessly, just in case a call comes down the line in the area in which they have deployed us.

(Sorry I'm being cynical, what actually happens is that the psychic computer tells us where the next heart attack is going to happen and so we are dynamically deployed depending on this crystal ball).

This new vehicle has done 2,500 miles. There isn't a mark or a dent on it.

Yet, in the last 41 days, it has needed to be taken off the road to be fixed 22 times.

We tallied it up while we were working on it last night – the picture opposite is the reasons why it has needed to be fixed.

I'm sure that, had we bought this from a shop, we'd be covered under the 'not fit for purpose' legislation and we could get our money back.

Sadly, we work in the world of NHS contracts, and I'm just not that smart to realise why we aren't sending these vehicles back to Mercedes and asking them to get them to do the thing that we have bought them for.

Failure Book

There is obviously a fault somewhere that needs serious fixing.

Here is a picture of the front of the ambulance repair reporting book, where we write down the faults so that the fitters can mend them. It is supposed to be left on the vehicle at all times.

Sadly, the LAS typo monster has struck again and it is down to crews to correct things.

This monster is getting more and more prevalent, the latest big memo – laminated cards sent to every member of staff in the area, told us about the policy for dealing with patients who need to go to a 'heart attach' centre.

I think it's because they have promoted one of my old officers who couldn't spell, and laminated everything.

I think he's doing something like 'business development'.

And, like all writing on the internet where someone comments on grammar or spelling, I'm sure that there is an error on this page.

My excuse (for many things) is that I'm working night shifts – it's all I can do to manage to get into work in the first place…

8 thoughts on “I Would Walk 5,000 Miles (Because I Keep Breaking Down)”

  1. Business Development – in the ambulance service?! What does that involve? I've got visions of him walking the streets with a brick-bat whacking people and calling 999, then running away giggling like a schoolgirl.Really – they need to get their euphemisms straight!

  2. You sound like you're at the end of your tether. Only you know what's best for you. I've been in jobs surrounded by incompetence and know how it gets to the stage where everyone around seems to have given up. Not sure what to suggest, other than to take a hard look at yourself and ask if you could tolerate this for another x number of years.

  3. Working for someone else, private or public sector, you can't escape it unfortunately. When you change jobs the relief is only temporary. The only answer is to work for yourself – of course there are still problems, but they are usually “real” problems instead of office politics or poor incumbent management, and you at least have some power over resolving them…

  4. The problem, as always at this time of year, is the combination of SAD and nightshifts…At least I can recognise my problem, which is a bonus on last year when I was looking to pack it all in.

  5. It strikes me that all the faults you've listed are with the ambulance conversion, not the Merc base. Unless, of course, Merc do the whole thing themselves. Is there a converter's name on a rivetted-on metal plate anywhere?

  6. I had occasion to ring for an ambulance for the first time ever this evening (my 14 month old went head over heels down a whole flight of stairs but emerged with only a bruised nose and forehead!). The workers were wonderful, but had real trouble getting the ambulance doors open. I dread to think what a problem this would have caused under more gruelling cirumstances. I did feel like a bit of a time waster as all turned out well, but I still feel I did the right thing in calling for professional help after this incident. I hope I don't fall into the “maternataxi” bracket!

  7. Why would the siren not working mean the ambulance has to be taken off road?………………………..can't you just roll down the window & scream, NEE NAW NEE NAW!.I'm surprised the management haven't asked you yet

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