Tuesday, 3 July 2012

One tape fixes all

"9 year old ambulance, not feeling well"

When we all buy cars we want something that won't break down. We look at the body work, the interior  and the mileage. Low mileage is always a selling point! When we insure the car the insurance company ask your annual mileage and it varies from person to person depending on the commute. Now take an ambulance; many of them are 24 hour vehicles, 07:00 to 19:00, then a crew change to the night turn on 19:00 to 07:00. This is repeated every day, 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year and only gets a rest when it breaks down. The driving that it puts up with isn't your average drive either. It is driven at speed, at high revs, it's swung around corners, there is repeated heavy breaking and it is pushed to its limits every day. We have a team of fitters who try their best to keep them working but invariably they break, and break often. There are so many vehicles breaking down that they are left doing quick fix after quick fix, and it is not just the mechanical side of things that go wrong. There are cupboards, trolley beds, carry chairs, blue lights, reversing cameras, 2 sets of steps, signage, clocks, Sat Navs, MDT screens, radios and tail lifts; all which get used and abused. 

The other day I was working on a 9 year old Mercedes Sprinter. It had 248,000 miles on the clock and, to be honest, had seen better days. There was a hole where the radio once was, the sat nav was hanging off, all the air con vents were missing, the air con wasn't working, there were no lids for the bins, a cupboard door was missing, there were holes in the seats covered with gaffa tape and the oxygen mounting was held on with micropore tape.

Micropore! The entire ambulance service, infact the entire NHS, is held together with micropore. It is used for everything. It has become a running joke that if something breaks, it's nothing that micropore tape cannot fix. You would struggle to find an ambulance in service that doesn't have micropore tape holding something together. The same applies to the newest vehicles. As with everything in the NHS our vehicles are provided by the lowest bidder and as such the quality of workmanship and materials used is poor. There are 100s of vehicles less than 3 years old and a quick look through their defect books will reveal just how much has gone wrong with them in such a short space of time! It can be embarrassing when a patient gets on board and you see them looking around at the bodge-job of a truck they are in!

About 3 hours into our shift, we were called to an unconscious male in the street. We pulled up to the bus stop to find him lying face down on the floor. Once we were within 6 feet of him it was clear he was an alcoholic; the smell was awful, his clothes were dirty, his hands filthy, his face was flushed and he had the drinkers nose. A quick shake and he was mumbling and groaning away. Unfortunately for our backs he was in no state to stand and stagger without assistance. We opened the tail-lift to get the bed out but it wouldn't open. Nothing we did would make it budge. Bugger! Back to the pre-tail lift way of doing things. We picked him up off the floor, onto our chair, and then lifted him up the steps and onto the bed. We took him to hospital and did the same at the other end. Job done! We then informed control that our vehicle was broken and were told to wait where we were for an engineer to come to us. An hour later he arrived. He looked at the tail lift, opened it as far as we had been able to and then said:

"You got any micropore?"

Micropore in action! 'Now get back to work'
I laughed and handed him the roll of tape attached to my trousers. Sure enough, he had seen the issue and binding the loose switch with tape would fix the problem. Taping complete the tail lift was working like a dream! Off we went to the next job. 14 miles away through traffic, engine screaming, heavy breaking and taking corners at speed. I could hear the vehicle crying in pain.

I guarantee everyone, in any ambulance service, all over the world has used or seen micropore used for something other than what it was intended! It really is the glue that holds everything together! Without it there would be no ambulances on the road! I know in an ideal world broken parts would be replaced, things would be fixed properly, and vehicles would be replaced after a certain amount of years served. Sadly, our government won't allow that. I shudder to think how many ambulances could have been bought with the fines for missed targets. Services are left with making the best of a bad situation. I just wonder how David Cameron would feel if it was his loved one in cardiac arrest in the back of an ambulance and there is a delay getting them into hospital because the micropore on the tail lift has come off?! Hmmmm... maybe taking the money and resources away from the emergency services wasn't such a good idea after all!

We all make do, we all carry our micropore and, in general, make it work for us.


19 comments:

  1. Excellent blog!! Like usual!

    FairyPingu999

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  2. Haha, the wheel chair lift on my sons school bus has its connections held together with gaffa tape, the non ambulance drivers micropore!

    Is yours the fabric kind or the plastic kind? I love the smell of the latter!

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  3. Ah , takes me back to my Air Force days . Then it was black tape .

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    1. Everyone has their weapon of choice!

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  4. Micropology(n): The science of using micropore tape as an integral element of vehicle maintenance. Students of the craft begin with light, temporary repairs, progressing to elaborate load-bearing engineering solutions likely to incur a court appearance.

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  5. Fabulous, good to read micropore is invaluable in all areas :)

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    1. Thanks Gem! You're a Gem pmsl! I know I will get hit for that!

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  6. Such an amateur fix!!

    Our lot would have used tie wraps! Proven to last 150% longer and fully IPC complient.......!

    I wish I was joking.

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    1. Hahaha! We don't have a budget for tie wraps!

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  7. As a micropore tape fan myself (great for preventing or covering blisters caused by silly high heeled shoes!), I'm going to keep my eyes peeled next time I see an ambulance! Thanks for adding a new insight into something I'd never otherwise know about.

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  8. The micropore repairs are even making their way into my home, there's a dodgy fire window switch in the hallway which opens when it rains. Guess what is holding the reset switch down to keep it closed...?

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  9. I use to use pure knitting wool, held my bike together for a decade. The modern stuff is fluffy and shreds though.

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  10. God bless the creator of micropore.....haha

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  11. One of the private ambulance companies I work for has a truck where the tax disk is stuck to the windscreen with micropore...

    Its ridiculous how much I use and for what for....

    Also I love your blog I don't visit much (use an rss feed) but I read every post :D

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