December 12th, 2008

To you, no to you

A few years back I was single-crewed on nights, working my usual area. This wasn’t unusual. We had to rely on backup from one of 3 or 4 other police stations.

I got a call to an RTC on the border of our force & the one next door. When I got there, an ambo crew were already on scene. It was an injury RTC, a girl was in the ambo & another was being treated in the car. There was nothing unusual except that the ambo crew were really anti. Any questions I asked were met with terse, unhelpful replies & within a few minutes it was clear that a) I wasn’t welcome and b) I wasn’t going to get any assistance.

I was so surprised at the attitude of the crew, as I generally had a good relationship with the local ambo crews & knew them by first name in many cases, that I went back to the nick to try to find out what was wrong. After a while, I rang the ambo station to speak with the paramedic who had been so rude to tell him that I wasn’t very happy with the way he spoke to me and to ask why he was like that. (I didn’t feel it appropriate to do so in front of his patients at the time).

It was then that I found out that he had been wound up by the goings-on in the background between his control room, our control room & the force next door. Apparently, they had been arguing between themselves as to whose ground it was. As I recall, it was actually in the area of no-man’s land between the borders & each force was saying it was the other’s & declining to send anyone. This had been going on for about half an hour. I, quite innocently, took the full brunt of the paramedic’s ire.

Which historical meanderings brings me round to today’s blog. Ambo crews.

Specifically, ambo crews or possibly control rooms, who decline to attend incidents unless they have police backup.

Apparently, people are dying because ambo crews won’t enter houses until a police officer arrives. This presents a problem if there is either no police officer present or police don’t believe they should attend. The case linked to is about someone who hung themselves and an inquest is currently being fought out between the police who are saying the ambo crew were more concerned for their own welfare than that of the patient and the ambulance staff who are saying police refused to assist them & send officers.

It’s not a healthy position to be, but I expect the blame culture is such that the regular course of action is not to accept any blame & get someone else to take the wrap. Police & Ambulance crews work together on so many occasions and very often need the assistance of each other. It won’t be nice when one or other needs some help & the next person to turn up is one who has been on the wrong end of a previous decision not to assist the other.

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  1. ted says:


    “Team leader Chris Ward said there had been an “increasing problem” of ambulance staff requesting police attendance at incidents.
    He said the problem was placing “strain” on working relationships between police and ambulance staff.”

    Difficult to comment without knowing all the facts. In my area ambulance control ask for police backup based on a previous history of trouble. The times they do so are fairly few and far between and in my experience always justified.

    If an ambulance control room was routinely asking for police backup when it wasn’t required then the police control will have to start deciding what level of response is justified. I’m not saying that was necessarily the case here but with the “health and safety” at any cost approach which is sometimes seen it could happen.

    It is another effect of the thin blue line. Just like years ago the police (in my area anyway) attended any fire both to backup the fire crew if in a dodgy area and to control traffic if needed etc. These days it doesn’t happen. The fire control tell us a crew is attending a fire and unless it is obviously serious they are told call us back if you need us.

    December 12th, 2008 at 18:51

  2. Civ_In_The_City says:

    Someone, somewhere has made a policy decision about the ambo crews going in. It`s got to this stage because of various things, 1) The blame culture, 2) Health and safety paranoia (and kids are getting more prone to nut allergies because paranoid parents are not letting say the word ‘peanut’ anymore), and 3) The ‘it must never happen again’ mentality.

    Something went wrong once so it get written in stone in the great big rule book and everyone else is banned from doing it forever. Using initiative actually breaks a condition of your employment, who will risk losing their job?

    While ambo crews are standing off, someone inside is dying. So the rules are effectively stopping ambo crews doing what they exist for.

    The Law of Foreseeable (but ignored) consequences.

    They won`t risk booting in a door, but they`ll gladly do open heart surgery in the street with a teaspoon?

    I`m not criticising them, I am criticising the extremes of stupidity that our public services have been reduced to. I put it simply and accurately when I state what seems to be the bleedin` obvious: The British government has lost all touch with the reality that the rest of us want to live in (and the one we actually do live in).

    December 12th, 2008 at 20:40

  3. Weary says:

    Personally, I’ve always found ambo crews to be breathtakingly patient. If anything, we rely on them too heavily due to the blame culture rather than the other way round (“We’re with this angry violent bloke whose cut his knuckles punching his girlfriend – can we have ambo check him out?”). Furthermore, the notion that all those who phone up threatening suicide will gratefully submit to a hug and a trip to the hospital defies well, my experience anyway. I may very well handle situations badly but my recollection is that an awful lot of those who state they have taken pills/cut their wrists/are thinking really hard about hanging themselves, end up attacking the people they asked to help them. Ambulance crews in various parts of the country aren’t wearing stab proof vests because they think it’s cool after all …

    December 12th, 2008 at 21:36

  4. MarkUK says:

    Sure as eggs is eggs, it’s the the blame/compo culture that is to blame.

    Mind you, do you know that the ambulance isn’t an Emergency Service? The ambulance is an “Essential Service” and the ambulance control rooms do not have access to the Home Office records of violent crime addresses!

    If the ambo calls for police assistance, it’s usually because they have experience themselves that the address is potentially dangerous.

    The fire service, on the other hand, DO have access to Home Office records.

    December 12th, 2008 at 22:17

  5. Anon says:

    I love Ambo crews, I get on really well with the ones that I know, But it getting silly and unfair.

    Two examples I can give.
    1) got called by the LAS to an address where a guy said he was going to cut himself, LAS had previous on him and called us. Me a few others had to sit on him for over forty minutes because they were not on scene.(he was never going to hurt himself, being one of our regulars he just likes uniforms)

    2) last week we got a call from the LAS to say there was a drunk bloke in the street unconcious and could we attend (why?) he was unconcious.

    Same old story six of one….

    December 12th, 2008 at 23:51

  6. Uncle John says:

    Re – demaration disputes. Long ago I worked ‘just outside the Met’ and there were some oddities; nominally the Thames divided Middlesex (Met)& Surrey – but the waterway had meandered since the boundaries were set,leaving little bits of each County on the ‘wrong side’ and we got into trouble if we submitted process or took in prisoners to the ‘wrong’ nick.

    December 17th, 2008 at 01:07

  7. Notacopperanymore says:

    Let me put some perspective on this since I have been ambulance service for more than a decade and a half. Time was, we’d call you, you’d turn up, you’d sort the problem, we’d take someone to hospital and we’d wave to each other driving in different directions the floowing day. Now, we call you, you don’t come. If you do come, its a kid in a vest with a Rambo attitude, and old timer counting down his days to pension, a PCSO or a bullied at school special. Proper coppers don’t exists save for re-runs of the Sweeney. We won;t go anywhere there is a risk of being assaulted. If we get assaulted, we naturally fight back. Then you nick us, along with the moron you nicked who assaulted us, because he complained and you have quotas. Leave us suspended for months whilst on bail robbing us of out essential O/T enhancements, then have the Clown Prosecution Service chuck the case out months later. We get mouthed off at by white capped Gestapo for walking in their crime scene whilst trying to extricate a dying teenager from a wrecked car. Why is it that coppers can swear at us, but we can’t swear back as they will report/arrest us? We are on our knees dealing with the dying whilst one of your idiots is riling up the crowd to bag himself a S5 and 4 hours paperwork to see him till the end of the shift in the warmth of the factory. I am proud to do my job. Real proud. You lot should be long dead with the shame of it all. When did you last use your judegement and people skills to actually help someone? Cops – Pah. Last decent copper I saw, I probably had’nt even started school.

    December 24th, 2008 at 04:45

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