In April I reckoned that I was dealing with about a dozen calls a week where an ambulance wasn’t available, sometimes for quite serious injuries and incidents. I have to say it is almost approaching that number a shift now.
In the last couple of shifts we have had several calls for an ambulance but none were available. An 88 year old lady who had fallen behind locked doors. We forced the front door and called am ambulance. None available.
Elderly man who had fallen in the street, no ambulance available. Victim of a stab wound to the arm, no ambulance available. RTC, person with head and leg injuries, no ambulance available. After 45 minutes of waiting and the third or 4th call from our control room to theirs, still no ambulance available but a request from their controller to call them back if the injuries became life-threatening; presumably they think police officers’ first-aid training, such that it is, would make it clear when someone has an injury that might be life threatening. I know on most occasions I dealt with injuries, unless their head was half hanging off I didn’t have a clue if they were likely to die or waltz off into the sunset singing God Save the Queen.
It’s causing a lot of friction between control rooms. I like to think I’m usually pretty¬†friendly¬†and professional when I speak to people, especially those who are in the same kind of business. But I’m getting pretty pissed of speaking to ambulance controllers who are short, snappy and sometimes just downright rude just because you have the temerity to ask if and when an ambulance might arrive. I know some of my colleagues can be rude and snappy too, but that’s not really an excuse to speak to me like that.
I don’t know if it’s just me, but there seem to be lots more calls where the ambulance is declining to attend in the first until an officer has been because the patient is ‘being violent’. Now there are times when someone is being violent, and situations where I wouldn’t anyone with at least a stab proof vest, a big stick, some pepper spray and may be a Taser, to enter first, but these are not the norm. The amount of jobs we get to where absolutely nothing is happening but the ambo has either not been sent yet, or is sitting in another street, seems to be on the increase. It almost seems like the ambo control is using the police service as a triage nurse to find out whether one is actually needed before they send one.
We’re now recording all incidents where an ambulance is not available, the Association of Chief Police Officers is getting involved, apparently. After all, whenever an ambulance isn’t available, it’s the¬†police¬†who have to pick up the workload. we’re now running people to hospital routinely rather than have an officer wait with the patient. We couldn’t possibly just drive off and tell the patient to wait for an ambo, because if they died it would be our fault.