Keith Handscomb, East Anglia FBU: “The concerns of the police come as no surprise to us. We applaud the skills and commitment of the professional paramedics and ambulance crews we work alongside but fire crews are telling us something is going seriously wrong with the 999 response of the East England Ambulance Service (EEAS). Fire crews tell us they and casualties are waiting longer and longer for the arrival of paramedics and ambulances. When a paramedic does arrive they are often on their own in a car or on a motorbike and are unable to take seriously injured casualties to hospital. Fire officers tell us of their desperate frustration at being told to wait in line when chasing up emergency requests for the attendance of an ambulance – sometimes they are told the ambulance sent to their emergency has been redirected to another call due to there being no other ambulance available. And we have received reports where EEAS have sent a private ambulance to casualties in a road traffic accident without either of the crew apparently having the professional medical skills needed to deal with the emergency.
“Paramedic colleagues have told us privately about their concerns but they are afraid to speak out. They tell us that EEAS are finding ever-more dubious ways to tick the boxes in trying to meet their performance targets whilst caring less and less about the standard of medical response they actually send to treat casualties. They are very worried about the latest EEAS “restructuring” plans to close ambulance stations.
“The numbers of frontline police officers and firefighters in East Anglia are also being cut to dangerously low levels, spreading us thinner and thinner across the region. A little extra first aid training for police officers and firefighters might sound like a cheap solution to ambulance delays, but when any of us find ourselves in a serious, medical emergency, what we really, really need, really, really quickly are professional paramedics and ambulance crews to treat us and take us to hospital.
“Something needs to be done but looking for a sticking plaster to treat a gaping wound is not the answer. For those who find themselves in medical emergencies, this is a matter of life and death importance.”
For more information contact:
Keith Handscomb 07730-435633
Jamie Wyatt 07825-327331