…said our dispatcher over the radio, after sending us an emergency where a patient is cutting his arms.
“Sorry control, repeat your last. Was that safe, or unsafe? Over.”
“Yes, yes safe to approach. Caller states that the patient is ‘not violent’. Over”.
“All received, ummm, what is he cutting himself with? Over.”
“A bread knife. Over”
“Yep, [callsign] requesting police attendance prior to us committing. Over”
A real conversation between our ambulance and our control.
How could we possibly know that this man was not violent? On the say so of someone with him willing to say anything to get help? How could we possibly know that as soon as we walk into that house, he won’t turn the knife on us and cut my crew mate and I to ribbons. We don’t.
There was a story in the news recently where a lone, female paramedic refused to enter a property where a 999 call had been placed, as it was a known drug den, the patient had taken drug overdose and she could hear angry shouting and arguing inside. Comments made by the public were most unsavoury about our colleague of another trust, as the patient subsequently died after backup took a while to arrive.
Ask yourself this question: You arrive, alone, at night to an address where the situation is unknown. You hear angry shouting. You’ve been told that there might be a knife (as in our scenario). Would you, as an unarmed medic, not equipped with pepper spray, a baton, or a stab vest, enter that house without backup?
The start of EVERY primary survey starts with ‘D’ for danger. Simple. If there is danger, do not proceed unless it can be made safe.
*Hops off of soapbox*