February 17th, 2008

Hands Tied

Posted in The Job - Comment by 200

What I don’t get is why ambulance crews never break into someone’s house to save their life.

The amount of times we get a call from ambo control to say they’re attending the report of a "collapse behind locked doors" (describing any time they can’t get in to treat someone) is unbelievable.

As these things go it’s usually OK if there is a police unit available at the time our services are required by the paramedics; we can attend & if we’ve got suitable MOE (method of entry) equipment to gain access without causing damage we will, if not we’ll just smash a window or kick the door in. However, things being more akin to reality we often don’t have anyone free to send. Yes, surprisingly, there are occasions when I can’t even get a free unit to take an immediate report of a 23-year-old naked blonde female running up the High Street shouting ‘take me, take me’.

I often wonder how many dead people whose houses we break into wouldn’t have died if the ambo crew had just smashed a window.

I know of at least one. A guy rang 999 & said he was lying on his living room floor, he thought he was having a heart attack. This went, naturally enough, through to ambo control who despatched an ambulance. When they got there they couldn’t get a reply so called us to break in. We didn’t have a free unit in the town so I got called to attend from another division. In the meantime the guy rang 999 again to say he’d called an ambulance, nobody had come & he was feeling pretty bad. We told the ambulance control who said that their crew was sitting outside but they wouldn’t break in without police. The man called a third time some minutes later.

By the time we got there & broke a window the guy was dead. The paramedics did all they could to revive him but it was to no avail.

I don’t know the reasons why ambo crews don’t break in, no doubt it has something to do with one policy or another, insurance or health & safety (although it sure ain’t for the health & safety of the person inside the house  who is dying).

Wouldn’t it be good sometimes if common sense ruled instead of policies. sadly there are people employed to say thigs like "yes, saved a life, but did you know you broke rule 3 sub-section b?"

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6 comments

  1. annette says:

    I was surprised about this and checked it out, and NO they are not allowed to break into someones house even when it’s an emergency. Only the police can do this.
    Hence the call to you,(when your not chasing blondes!)

    February 17th, 2008 at 13:42

  2. Ambulance Man says:

    We are as allowed to break into a property as much as the next door neighbour, but most trusts have it as policy that we shouldn’t do it. You would like to think that this wouldn’t be a problem if you saved a persons life, but then this is a service where you can reach a patient in 7 minutes and fail to save them, but it is recorded as a success – get there in 9 minutes and save them it is a failure; go figure!!

    February 17th, 2008 at 16:51

  3. Andrew says:

    “…….there are occasions when I can’t even get a free unit to take an immediate report of a 23-year-old naked blond running up the High Street shouting ‘take me, take me’……..”

    I’m not surprised. A blond is a male…. a female is called a BLONDE !

    That small difference of one letter may well make several units suddenly “free” ……

    February 17th, 2008 at 18:27

  4. Stan Still says:

    Technically, someone who causes damage to property without the consent of the owner could be charged with causing criminal damage under the 1971 act. However, there is a specific defence for a person who causes damage in the reasonable belief that the owner of the property would have consented to the damage had they known the circumstances.

    I’ve known ambulance staff force entry to houses. I’ve never known any occupants to make a complaint and I’ve never considered it necessary to arrest an ambulance person for damage in these situations.

    Common sense can and should prevail – not policy!

    February 17th, 2008 at 18:31

  5. 200 says:

    Andrew, thanks for that, a technical edit to spare further grammatical embarrassment has taken place!

    February 17th, 2008 at 19:41

  6. Sergeant Simon says:

    Is true here too…. it is simply a suing avoidance policy of as the legal powers that be have decreed that ambulance staff, unlike the police and fire brigade, do not have a legal power to break into a property in order to save life or limb. So they can break in, in as much as anyone can, but they run the chance of doing so illegally and their employers wont back them up if the “saved” person decides he’d like some money out of them.

    February 19th, 2008 at 10:01

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