Sunday, 18 December 2011

Materni-taxis



Ok, this may be a contentious issue and I don't mean to cause offence, but this is not just coming from the 'me' who works on ambulances. My opinion is partly geography biased, being in a city no one is ever more than 3 miles from a hospital, this means no one is ever more than a £6 taxi journey to a hospital, and this is where my frustration comes from. I fully understand that if you live in the middle of the countryside, 45 minutes from the hospital with no means of transport then yes, an ambulance is totally appropriate, but in the city I am sure any pregnant woman could save the cab fare over a 9 month period. By all means, call an ambulance if you need one but a contraction, waters breaking or a 'show' is not, and will not, ever be an 'emergency'! Please read this post in the spirit in which it is meant, an ambulance girl fed up with playing 'taxi' to expectant mothers whose partner follows in the car and lives 400 yards from hospital! If you need us, call us!


“27 year old female. In Labour”

So what! It’s an all too common job. A woman in labour calls an ambulance for a lift to hospital. She isn’t ill, she isn’t dying, she is going to give birth. Giving birth of a function of nature, thats’s what we do. Women have been giving birth since time began and I can assure you, that was long before the invention of the ambulance. Despite our obvious displeasure at being sent we drove there, lights and sirens and ‘save’ another pregnant woman too lazy to arrange her own transport. 

You don’t suddenly give birth. There is a 9 month pregnancy leading up to it. During that time you would have thought a lift could have been arranged. If not, a taxi?! A saving of just 25p a week throughout the pregnancy should be enough to cover it. Failing that, most people know someone or have a neighbor who transports their litter in a Chelsea Tractor. Bug them. Not us! Obviously, if something is wrong, or you have the urge to push, then that is a different matter but don’t take the piss.


We arrived on scene, grabbed all our kit; response bag, oxygen bag, maternity pack, entonox, Paediatric Advanced Life Support kit, inco-pads (yes, it weighs a ton) and headed to the front door. It took some negotiating to get us and our stuff past the 3 cars on the driveway but we made it. Mum-to-be was dressed and ready to go, bags packed and in the hallway, Dad-to-be clearly to excited to drive was fretting about everything, as was various other family and friends who were going to follow in the car. Contractions were coming along nicely, every 6-7 minutes, no show, waters not broken. This really was a life threatening medical emergency. Oh, and they hadn’t phoned the maternity unit or midwife. It’s OK though because we can do that for them too. Anyway, all aboard, boxes ticked, i’s dotted and t’s crossed we drove the 1.6 miles to hospital. Another life saved.

As mind boggling as this is, and as annoying as I find materni-taxis this isn’t why i’m blogging about it. Shortly after the job I tweeted the following on twitter:

“You’ve had 9 months to plan, call a taxi, get a lift from another mum in a Chelsea tractor. It’s labour. You’re not ill. You don’t need 999”

Within 3 minutes of this tweet I received the following message via my Facebook page, which quite frankly, made me seethe. The message was as follows:

“A woman in labour has every right to call an ambulance. The ambulance has all the medical equipment and the paramedics have the medical knowledge to deal with a birth, a taxi does not and neither does a neighbour with a 4x4. Show me where it says a woman in labour cant call an ambulance. Also while you’re at it show me the HPC code of ethics, as i think your statement is way off and to discourage any woman in labour from calling an ambulance is medical negligence. I would invite you to prove me wrong, if you can fine, but bet you cant??? A woman in labour without a way to get to hospital is hardly a sprained wrist and she much more in need for an ambulance than an elderly person who has just fallen over. I suppose you’re going to go onto long term illness and tell me i cant call an ambulance when my daughter is in DKA.”

Are you serious? What a deluded, self-centred fool. It is people like this which cause all the problems in this country. People who think they have the divine right to an ambulance whatever the circumstance, it’s selfish and greedy and exactly what i’d expect if this vulgar human called 999. Yes, you have a right to call an ambulance, if its an emergency, but normal labour is not. You’ll also be reassured to know that the only training a paramedic has on maternity is a 2 day course. We are given a very brief overview on how to deliver a baby in an emergency. Admittedly taxi’s and neighbours haven't had the luxury of a 2 day course but they don’t need it to drive your lazy arse to hospital. They need exactly what we need. Money for petrol. No where does it say a woman in labour can’t call an ambulance, it isn't advised though. The following has been copy and pasted directly off my employers website:

“Please think carefully before calling an ambulance in pregnancy or normal labour. Call your midwife, birth centre or labour ward in the first instance for help and advice. Ambulances are needed for life-threatening emergencies, and normal labour is not an emergency. During your pregnancy, it is important you discuss with your midwife the signs of normal labour and plan your transport to your chosen place for the birth. Initially any pregnancy or labour concerns should be raised with your midwife or birth centre. This includes worries with foetal movements, or if feeling unwell, as they can advise you further.”

To be honest, a) I can’t be arsed b) I don’t have the inclination to and c) I don't care enough to trawl through pages and pages of codes of ethics to find a sentence that will make my point and appease you. Your comment on the elderly speaks volumes about your character too. You are ill informed about the medical needs of pregnant women and to even suggest that a woman in normal labour is more deserving than a 92 year old lying on the floor with a fractured neck of femur is laughable. It’s people like you that cause these genuine patients to be left on the floor for 4 hours +. And as to your snipe about my sick leave, you don’t know me, you’ll never know me and what my sickness has to do with your daughters DKA I don’t know. What chance does she have anyway when your archaic opinions are what she has as an example to follow. No wonder the NHS is in crisis.

Obviously, I wouldn’t want to deter anyone who is in need from calling 999. On the rare occasions where an ambulance is needed for an obstetric emergency I would want someone to call. If:
  • You are immediately about to give birth with a strong urge to push.
  • If there is fresh bleeding which is more than an egg cupful (or two changes of pads).
  • If you have severe abdominal pain that continues and persists after a contraction.
  • If the baby’s cord is noticeable.
  • If you are suffering from other medical emergencies, such as breathing difficulties or chest pain.
Call 999!!!! If however, you want a free lift to hospital and you are in normal labour, please don’t. It’s an unnecessary drain on resources and is a massively inappropriate use of an emergency ambulance. Rant over. Be safe x

25 comments:

  1. That woman is a heartless cow - a woman in labour is more deserving of an ambulance than an elderly person who's had a fall? I don't think so! Wait til she's in that position, I hope there's a long queue of women in labour which results in her lying on the cold floor for 4 + hours!!

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    1. That was my thought! I could forgive her arguing about the right to an ambulance but not the comment about the old dear on the floor!

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  2. Some of the most poorly patients we see come into us as 'falls'. The question being why did they fall? Have they had a TIA or stroke, do they have AF, or have they lost consciousness and fell. These and other causes must all be considered. Thousands of women travel to hospital by car every year with no ill effect. In fact if the ambulance service was required to take every woman in labour to hospital there would be precious little time to do much else. What sort of person with no experience or clearly no training would pass judgement on something they know so little about, but that seems to the normal way of things nowadays, anyone who's watched an episode of Holby thinks they're an expert. And whilst on the subject we all know DKA doesn't just appear either! Perhaps concentrate on monitoring the daughters diabetes more closely and less interference in things beyond their comprehension would be wise.

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  3. Well said, I ran out of steam before I could launch into my thoughts on the DKA! There was so much I wanted to say but didn't want to regain war and peace!

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  4. I'm not part of the medical world in any way but felt the need to reply. I was brought up with the common sense that seems to allude so many people today. Only after reading paramedic blogs have I realised how this service is abused and totally mis-used. From my lay persons perspective it's quite simple - life threatening = ambulance. Anything else and get yourself to a&e. If medical attention is not needed at the scene then neither is an ambulance. Is this too complicated for people to understand or am I actually a genius in disguise that sees difficult things as simple?!?

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    1. Totally agree! Im not saying no one should get one, its mainly a city thing, In the country side it is difficult but here, no excuse!

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  5. Couldn't have put it better myself. I am astounded that she believes a woman in labour is more deserving of an emergency ambulance than an elderly person who has fallen. Really?! She should come and do our job for a few weeks then we'll see who she thinks needs our help most at 5am. The woman who won't give birth for another 5 hours who walks past her husbands car to get to the ambulance or the elderly person lying in agony, in their own urine on a freezing cold bathroom floor for the past 4 hours. Utter nonsense!

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    1. Yep! Spot on! And thanks for the comment!

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  6. Times have changed I guess. When I had my first son, in 1992. I called an ambulance to take me to hospital when labour started at 4.40am on New Years Day. We didn't have a car, didn't know anyone with a car. It was my first baby, and we were both 19. The ambulance men who picked us up said they had been on shift since the previous night and had nothing but stabbings and shootings (manchester) and were pleased to end their shift with something nice and straightforward, but made me promise to keep my legs crossed as they'd just cleaned the wagon! They were sweet, and one of them sat with me in the back and held my hand through the contractions as my husband turned white with fear. I'll never forget it and their kindness. The only time I was ever in an ambulance. My second son was born in a German hospital, 50 minutes down an autobahn in our Ford Escort Turbo. Bucket seats. Painful. The first was much more civilised, but thats just time moving on I guess. Excellent point, well made x

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    1. Like I say, there are exceptions and I have no doubt without the knowledge and experience I have I may have done the same!

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  7. I was advised to call an Ambo when I went into Labour with my first baby, but I had polyhydamnios so, despite no really seeing the point, I called 999 and requested an ambo. The crew were great, since it was 5.30am and they had probably been on shift for hrs!!!
    2nd baby- I got my self to hospital.
    Even when my staples burst open recently- after a hysterectomy- and I could see down to muscle, I got my hubby to drive me to AnE! I wasnt dying- my innards were still in, so no emergancy!!!!
    Selffish buggers!!!

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    1. Quite right! But you have common sense that most people are lacking! Thanks for the comment!

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  8. When I had my daughter 26 years ago I got a cab to hospital. It was 1.30 in the morning, contractions were every 5 minutes, I was 19 years old and on my own. Although frightened I knew I wasn't ill. Last year when my granddaughter was born my daughter drove herself to hospital appointment and they decided to keep her in as pains getting worse....she drove home (20 minute drive) and we got a cab back to hospital.

    I lost my Mum last year, she had many hospital visits over previous 10 years, 2 strokes as well as many other things. We were always greatful that ambulance arrived promptly and Mum was treated so well, even at times when she was very abusive due to dementia and psychosis.

    This person is a despicable human being, I hope she is never left lying on a cold floor overnight with no ambulance available for her.

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    1. Awww youve been through a lot. With demetia and psychosis I don't mind all the abuse in the world! It's not their fault. This person was indeed a foul troll!

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  9. Working on 999 ambulances myself and also driving ourselves for all three of our labours, I have to play devils advocate and ask, would a taxi actually take someone in labour, with the risk of delivering en route (albeit small) and contamination from bodily fluids......and my wife just commented they (taxi drivers) bollock you if you try and throw up!

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    1. True, but is going into normal labour a medical emergency?! I get your point! Always two sides and different opinons! Thanks for the comment!

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  10. My friend never made it in (town hospital in 5 mins) second child she called a friend in the middle of the night to look after first child, husband ready to leap into car with wife. The babysitting friend was a nurse and was concerned ( as I say mum and dad about to drive to hospital) and she told my friend she was not going anywhere and delivered a lovely baby boy ( while dad called ambulance there in minutes to cut cord and check mum and baby) the ambulance crew were lovely and chuffed.

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    1. See, I am torn with this post! As annoying as I find materni-taxis I love delivering babies!!

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    2. no need to feel torn - was just one of those things a silly short labour (previous was over 12 hours) and just was. All was good and fine

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  11. My question: why did the 999 dispatcher not advise them to get themselves to hospital? Why did they make you go? (I'm not a medical person!) I hope that's not a daft question?!?!

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  12. Ohh this has me. My first response (as having only done it the once) is its a frightening time for any woman and I'll be honest, and open to criticism, when I say this: if on your complete own with no one else I could understand dialing 999 but I thought you paid for non essential calls - clearly my mother lives in some strange universe she told me this
    BUT I had serve complications with my pregnancy and when I went into labour I didn't call 999, and it didn't once cross my mind too -
    I do hate the way ppl abuse the ambulance staffs time. I owe my life to the Cambridgeshire team and I know my parents would never have understood if I hadnt been here because someone was being tight and not paying a taxi or calling a mate for a lift even if it was because they were about to do what women are born to do

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  13. I like others hate the way that people abuse the ambulance service, and for good reason. Try waiting 90 minutes plus with a small child in status epilepticus whilst the ambulance service struggles to get there because its having its resources abused by folk just needing a free lift - just as i have had to do on several occasions. Its high time that those who call ambulances unnecessarily were Invoiced a hefty fee for the privilege - maybe that would put reduce the unnecessary burden on resources that does affect the lives of those who genuinely need an ambulance in an emergency. Ella is bang on right in what she says.

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