Education.

I haven’t posted for a while. This is because I was blessed with some leave.

First day back today was fairly routine. We blue light to EVERYTHING, leaving over half of the patients at home, and conveying the rest to A&E – a few of those on blue lights if they’re unwell enough. ‘

I often discuss with my crew mate the efficiency of other emergency services. The Police are as busy as us, and just a short staffed, Fire and Rescue call volumes are always reducing (more on that in a moment) and, well, everyone always forgets about the coast guard.

(Before I go on, this isn’t a rant about the Fire service. I’ve worked alongside them at many a job and they are always very efficient, very professional and always a good laugh. In fact, my father-in-law was an Officer in the Fire service so I must tread carefully!!)

Basically, they have it nailed. A number of years ago, someone in the Fire Brigade (as it was) decided to take a step. A step that would have no immediate reward, but in years to come, would see call volumes drop considerably. A step of genius:

Education.

They started to educate the general public with television advertising campaigns for things like installing smoke alarms in the house – and checking them regularly, how to put out a chip pan fire – with live demonstrations at events and advocating the fitting of those orange seatbelt cutting, window smashing things (I don’t know what they’re called!) to cars.

They went on a PR mission that all these years later has paid off in a big way. Houses have smoke alarms, people put out pan fires without engulfing themselves in flame and people have those little orange whatsnames. Mostly, however, call volumes have decreased considerably. Remember the Fire strikes a few years back? When the army in the Green Goddesses had to stand in? They got bored. Very quickly. Turns out, not that many calls anymore.

My crew mate and I then wonder why the Ambulance service doesn’t take a similar tact. As I say, we blue light to pretty much everything – no matter how silly it sounds. Some examples of what I’ve driven to under emergency conditions, putting myself and other road users at risk : “Cut finger nail too short – bleeding”, “Can’t sleep”, “Cut on foot”, “Swallowed chewing gum”, “Knee pain”, “Became cold”……the list goes on and on and on.

Let’s not forget that we’re an emergency service, trained and equipped to deal with life and death situations, and yet…

So why aren’t the ambulance service advertising what a true emergency is? Why are we not saying “here’s where to learn first aid”, why are we not educating the public?

Well, we’re too busy fighting fires. Too busy attending calls to the above ’emergencies’.

Like I said, over 50% of our callers are not taken to A&E.

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