Saturday 2 February 2013

21 miles

"41 year old female, vomiting"

I've spoken before about the first night shift in a run of shifts. Not pleasant at the best of times! As is customary, we arrived at work early to get our vehicle ready. Unfortunately the garage was empty so it was a case of waiting! We were due to start at 18:00 and at 17:59 the early turn arrived back. As they unloaded their stuff the phone rang. It was EOC with a job for the night vehicle. Of course it was! It's not as if we need time to do the legal checks on the vehicle, put our stuff on, make sure the vehicle is kitted up and do all the necessary paperwork! Oh no! So, with bags, hi-vis jackets and stab vests unceremoniously thrown into the truck, off we went!

How far?! 10.6 miles! In the rush hour! For vomiting! I understand that we are utilised by our service how they deem fit but in the time it takes to get there I refuse to believe another vehicle would come up available. It really is a sorry state of affairs if we are the only available vehicle in 20 mile radius from the job. That's an area 352 square miles (if my maths serves me correctly) with no other available ambulances?! More than half of the entire city and this year the Quality Care Commission were assured that there were enough ambulances to cover demand?! Someones been telling fibs! It wasn't even a high priority call. I hate leaving station in a rush. The reason most staff come in early is for this very reason. We are not paid for that time but there is so much to do, if you don't do it, you'll end up having to leave without something and to be honest, I don't like being in a situation where I need something and it isn't there! 

The journey itself was an absolute nightmare. It seemed that every single person on the road was there purely to get under my skin. They were stopping in front of me, ignoring my existence, blocking my lane and indicating left but not actually moving. Every turn I made someone caused my blood pressure to rise. After about 15 minutes we'd reached the half-way point and EOC were still yet to answer our request to speak to them. Funny that. The nearer we got, the more we realised that we were actually going to have to deal with this patient so my crew mate started writing stuff onto the PRF (Patient Report Form). Despite the flashing lights and sirens it seemed that my 'bull horn' was permanently being used and no matter where I went the general public were dead set on ruining my day. Luckily there was only 0.3 miles to go!


Aaaaarrrrrggggghhhh! Are you serious?! We accepted the cancelled to a chorus of expletives and waited patiently until the higher priority was sent to us.

"46 year old female, feeling dizzy, not alert"

How far?! 10.8 miles! In the rush hour! A cursory glance at the map sent me apoplectic! The address was only 400 yards from our ambulance station! THIS is why crews get so frustrated about being sent miles across the city unnecessarily! There is an element of danger in blue light driving. You can make all the allowances in the world and reduce risks as much as possible but you cannot take into account the actions of idiot drivers! Driving on the wrong side of the road, going through red lights and weaving through traffic is a calculated risk which we are happy to take but it becomes very frustrating when you do that for nothing. Also, the further you get away from your area, the less you know the roads and this makes driving on them much much harder. Anyway, what is done, is done, so off we went, through the traffic.

The job kept on updating as we drove, making the journey on blue lights seem all the more futile! It turns out the patient had been having dizzy spells for 4 months and was yet to see the GP. She had called NHS Direct for advise and true to form, they re-directed her to an emergency ambulance for something that was a primary care issue. Despite this information we carried on, weaving in and out of traffic, going through red lights and getting blocked at traffic islands by numpties! All the while I could feel my blood pressure rising and rising and rising! 

I was so angry! I have a tendency to take everything personally. My crew mate is forever telling me off about it. If a driver does something stupid I take it as a slight on me and therefor react to reflect that! In the return journey I don't think i've ever used the horn so much in such a short space of time. In hindsight, I don't think that the drivers were driving any worse than normal, but having to leave in a rush, being sent miles away for a 'vomiting' and being cancelled so close to the house had put me on the edge of reason! It also doesn't help passing another ambulance on blue lights in the opposite direction and wandering why a) you are not doing their job and b) why they are not doing your job!! Crazy!

We passed the ambulance station where this nightmare had begun and as we did so I glared at it! As we approached the turning I said to my crew mate, 'this had been the worst 50 minutes of my life'.


I will spare you what happened in that moment. You can imagine though! My throat is still sore from the screaming! I turned around and drove back into station. 53 minutes had passed since my shift had begun and all I had done was drive 21 miles. In that time, I had gone from a good mood to possibly the worst mood of my entire life and for what?! What was the point of it?! Im dying to know! Every cloud has a silver lining though doesn't it! I turned the engine off and got out to check the vehicle over at last.

"98 year old female, fall, unable to get up"

I'll check the vehicle later........


  1. Has the control centre got it in for you? Or perhaps they've got shares in a petrol company. Or were playing a game of "Let's see how far we can push Ella today", for their own amusement? Just wondering ... ;)

  2. Bless you, although it is nice to see that we aren't the only ones running miles to job and being pushed to miss or shorten vehicle checks. Roll on the 4th when the apparent ten minute rule comes in for a vehicle check!


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