Friday, 20 January 2012

For what it's worth

It was only a matter of time....

This happened to a friend of mine and I've been saying for a while now that, sooner or later, one of us is going to pay the ultimate price. I for one do not want to be killed racing to an emergency toothache. In this case, the call was a genuine 999, and I think if I get taken out on the way to a life-or-death situation, then it will have been worth the risk.

Now people who call ambulances for nonsense might see what actually happens when one of us runs out of luck.

Get well soon Jim.



brokenangel said...

About the only time its good to be thrown from his bike

Anonymous said...

Hi Stu,

Sorry to hear about your mate. Hope he gets well soon.

I can quite understand you not wanting to get killed attending a toothache, and I hope you'll take this in the spirit it's meant, but the answer is simply to slow down!

Yes, there is a good chance the call isn't actually an emergency, and studies have shown that a lights and sirens response usually doesn't shave a lot off the response time.

Going back to the Hippocratic oath, first do no harm.

I'd hate to see emergency service personnel or the public injured or killed for the sake of you trying to beat an egg-timer going off in a cushy government office somewhere. You're worth a lot more than that.

F*ck the statistics. Your job is to get to, and treat the patient as quickly as is SAFELY possible.

No-one expects you to risk being killed on a daily basis doing your job. Despite what you might think.

I think this should be treated as a wake-up call, and for you ALL to put your own safety first. You're no good to your work or family dead.

"First, Look after number one"

New Zealand

Xf said...


We all agree with that but there are a few problems... first of all, our target times are monitored and can have a negative affect on our careers. My mate was probably not going THAT fast tbh; if you knew that road, you'd know it's always full of slow moving traffic.

We are all trained to drive fast and he was on his way to a genuine life-or-death situation, so he responded appropriately. I'm pretty sure if he knew it was a nothing job, he wouldn't have taken risks.

Of course, nobody yet knows what his driving was like at the time. He may have just been unfortunate.

Thanks though, I know what you meant and I wholeheartedly agree with you.

Bobbi said...

Ouch. Sorry to hear that - I hope he gets better soon. I see daft things every duty with St. John, so I hate to think of the stupidity you guys face. I mean, it's common sense isn't it? The *Emergency* Services are there for *Emergencies*, where people are badly injured or very ill. Ah, sorry about the rant.

Aucklandir said...

Agree with you mate. There is increased pressure on us to 'get out the door' and 'locate' to suit the statistics. Personally I blame the control room for not filtering out the 'urgents', 'non urgents' and 'not even worth an ambulance' calls.

Anonymous said...

Study Examines Link Between Response Times & Patient Outcomes

Is there a connection between timing & mortality rates?

Anonymous said...

Reading this makes me feel guilty as hell. I had an FRU and ambulance attend me last weekend due to a sustained asthma attack that reliever medication was having zero affect on. I know for a fact that the solo paramedic in the FRU drove on lights and sirens at high speed to get to me from the opposite end of the city.

To think I put him at risk like that makes me sick to my stomach. Even though I'd been trying to get relief using my prescribed inhalers for almost two hours by the time I finally gave up and requested assistance and all three attending paramedics assured me that I ought to have called much sooner I now feel like a total idiot.

To then have been taken to hospital again, on lights and sirens. Well, what can I say except that I will never use the EMERGENCY service in that situation again. A bus goes from nearby to the hospital and only takes 40min to travel there, if ever there is a next time then I'll be taking that option instead.

For reference the FRU paramedic was amazing, he set me up with salbutamol then ipatropium and the two paramedics who came to help him were also fantastic. I have no real idea if I was in any critical situation my O2 sat's were around 93% after the first lot of nebulised drugs + oxygen but I don't totally understand what that means. Brittle Asthma was mentioned as a cause but again, I don't know what that means as my asthma is usually under superb control.

Anyway, I realise now how much risk the attending paramedics put themselves in coming to help me and for what it's worth I'm very grateful and very sorry. I hope your colleague recovers soon.

Xf said...


Asthma is a life-threatening situation and thus an emergency. Brittle asthma, resulting in a drop in oxygen saturation is taken seriously and needs immediate treatment.

You must NOT take the bus to hospital and you must always call 999 when your situation becomes difficult (where meds don't have an effect).

This story is not intended to make people who really need an ambulance feel guilty; it is supposed to highlight the risks taken to get to patients. The patient my colleague was heading to was in a critical situation. He took measured risks on that basis - he just got unlucky.

I think you need only feel ashamed of yourself if you've ever got so drunk we've been called to you... or you have a headache with no other issues... or a cut finger... or a cat stuck in a cat-flap, etc.

The emergency ambulance service is here for precisely the sort of medical emergency you describe.