Single Responders Waiting…and waiting


I’m waiting

I’ve been waiting all night. Waiting for a job where a patient actually needs my skills. I’m on that job now, yet I’m still waiting.

I was miffed when the job leapt out of the Mobile Data Terminal. How dare a 38 year old consider himself breathless just as the movie reaches a good bit. That’s the luck of solo responding on a Single Responder Vehicle. One minute parked up looking seedy in a dubious location the next tearing around to god knows what dilemma.
I’ll be totally honest though when the MDT sparks up with “38 year old male struggling for breath and anxious” my first thought is Bull Shit! Man up and get a grip. When I enter the house it’s me that has to man up and get a grip.

I’m confronted with “Dave” he’s lathered in sweat, ashen grey and quite frankly breathing out of his arse hole. Speaking of arse holes it’s at this point mine begins to twitch. My 5 second appraisal need go no further and I bang in a “Signal 1 – No Divert” this is an SRU’s way of saying my patient is in shit order and I not only need help quickly I need him hospital right now.

So I’m waiting.

Dave has a lung disease and on 15Ltrs of oxygen his saturation levels are 64%. His heart rate is 155 bpm, he’s breathing 54 times a minute 16 – 20 would suffice you or I and his other obs are similarly unpleasing to my eye. It’s ok though Dave, because an ambulance will soon have you in hospital. They’ll be able to do far more for you there than I can with Salbutamol and Ipratropium Bromide.

Dave has two kids and a wife

I’m still waiting.

Dave is dying before my eyes. It’s impossible for his body to keep up this level of exertion for much longer. Eventually the muscles that expand and contract his rib cage will be so tired that they will no longer be able to work. He’ll go in to respiratory arrest and that will be shortly followed by cardiac arrest.

I’m still waiting.

40 minutes after arriving on scene I am informed that there aren’t any vehicles available to back me up.

Dave is 38 he has a wife and two kids and he’s dying in front of me, there’s nothing more I can do. At the 50 minute point I’m still polite with dispatch but I’m sure I’m now sounding a little more terse. I feel like asking for anything, non emerge car, maybe a minibus from a taxi firm! At this point I don’t care what, I just need something.

Nothing comes so I’m still waiting.

I know we don’t have an endless pool of resources but it’s now over an hour since Dave’s wife made the call. Surely to god in the whole of my region something somewhere must have come clear because I can guarantee drunks and idiots are still getting vehicles.

At 1 hour 30 minutes I’m still waiting but I’m told there is a crew 8 minutes away. They arrive 20 minutes later. Dave by now is gasping his last. He is so exhausted that his body can no longer maintain his respiratory efforts and it won’t be long until he stops breathing totally. He’s loaded in to the ambulance as fast as we can and the crew take him away. I keep my fingers crossed for him, he’s going to need all the help he can get.

The ambulance service will report this as a success. After all Dave got an emergency response to his door within 15 minutes. Its just a shame we couldn’t get him to hospital in another 15.

This isn’t an unusual situation caused by a sudden unexpected rise in demand for our services. It’s the norm for SRU’s and its making me sick.

I’m on another job I’ve asked for an ambulance and guess what…

….. I’m still waiting.

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17 Responses to Single Responders Waiting…and waiting

  1. Jim Hall says:

    GREAT work MICA Man!
    Back up times definitely totally unacceptable.
    And yes response times will record 15 mins and you know that is fudging it really.
    Keep up YOUR good work Paramedics.

    • Tom says:

      He ain’t MICA….he is a clock stopper on a screen. SRU’s are like diluting an already diluted service. O2 and diesel but no diesel. Would have been a tricky case forba MICA also.

      • Jim Hall says:

        Thank you Tom.
        Yes clock stopper
        But he is performing a MICA type responsibility here
        Hence my COMPLIMENTARY comment well done MICA man

  2. ash says:

    I remember the morwell SRU being backed up by the officer car one night.

  3. Annoyed says:

    This post is full of lies.

    Would you prefer that I point out all the lies or would you rather correct the ‘errors’.

    • Invisible says:

      LOL, OK, I’ll bite. Can’t make a general statement like that without offering the proof of the pudding.

      Clearly you were there. All for hearing both sides of the story.

    • alex says:

      I’m interested annoyed. What are the lies?

    • admin says:

      I’m also annoyed….. So what lies and/or errors are you aluding to in this post?

      • Also Annoyed says:

        Here are the lies. An event for a 38 year old ‘struggling for breath and anxious screams ‘let me go have a sook to the clinician and get myself taken off this job’. The reason this officer attended is that the family of a patient with a severe lung disease who have oxygen at home to treat it would be educated enough as to what they need to advise 000 calltakers. An event like this would get the attention of the clinician too I would imagine.

        If however there was no backup available than I would assume he would need to attend on his own whilst backup is sought, however based on the observations provided I would hazard a guess that he was not clear enough in specifying either how critical his patient was or that this event is full of lies. A single responder on scene with a sick patient would take priority. I find it extremely hard to believe that an officer on scene with what is effectively a priority zero event would wait nearly two hours for backup in a metro area. That would imply that for a period of at least 60 minutes that there was
        – not a single vehicle that completed a meal break
        – not a single vehicle that was available AT ALL.
        – not a single vehicle cleared a hospital in Melbourne Metropolitan.
        – that every event in this timeframe was transported and there was not a single vehicle who left their patient at scene.

        It also seems that when the crew arrive and ‘take him away’ that this gentleman did not go with them? His patient is effectively pre arrest for 2 hours and he did not assist with transport. Another less subtle but still obvious sign of bullshit.

        No offense folks but it is lies like this that are put out to unsuspecting public that have an effect of negative karma on the EBA. Perhaps focus on facts.

        I know the author of this page did not post the article. It is however one of the first rules of journalism to verify what you have and confirm facts.

        Remember this… This child died after waiting for 65 minutes for mica attention. I would think that a single responder on scene for two hours with a ‘very sick’ patient would be on the phone to the herald sun in about 3 seconds and not writing for this ‘forum’.

        Piss poor effort at making up a story.

        • Disposable Asset says:

          Let me get this straight, you say essentially that this can’t have happened because they wouldn’t let it.
          They wouldn’t possibly leave someone waiting for backup for almost two hours.
          But despite many horrible recent incidents, such as young Emmy who died waiting for an ambulance some 12 minutes from central Melbourne, and many more I could list, you produce as evidence an article dating back to 2010, reporting a crew who waited over an hour for backup. So clearly there are delays.
          But most interesting to me is the fact that with all the recent articles in the press over the few years you choose to go back that far to when Daniel Andrews was health minister.

          I smell a liberal, nothing else to do on holidays Mr Felles?
          (To be fair it may not be Mr Felles, I havent a clue who it is)

          • Also Annoyed says:

            You don’t smell a liberal… you actually smell someone who used google to find an article involving a similar situation.

            There is nil chance that what is effectively a priority 0 event would wait 2 hours for backup.

            One thing missing here is all other events you talk of are in the media. Why isn’t this one?

  4. Lachlan says:

    Unfortunately John Till’s blog is often filled with lies or mistruths. John with respect, it’s been a few years now, time to move on and tend to a rose garden.

    • admin says:

      Lachlan….. I am a tad disappointed. You attempt to sling crap in my direction with the hope that it will stick. I’m an open book. I host and administer this site for hardworking paramedics, who are justifiably upset with their lot! If you did just a little research you’d see that I didn’t write this post. It was written by a current paramedic. Perhaps it is you who should come clean…. You hide behind a false Facebook profile to make disparaging comments about your (fellow) paramedics on their Code Red Facebook page. You have an agenda, but come out and be honest and tell everyone what it is and who you are.

  5. brokenambo says:

    Lies? Really? I think not. Great, honest writing!

  6. DM says:

    Is this rural or metro ? If Metro – I don’t believe this is correct re times. SRU’s would never wait that long. If they did – it would be front page of the paper. Longest I have ever known SRU to wait in metro is about 30-40 mins.

  7. Ernst Millet says:

    Annoyed, How about you A; identify your self instead of being an annonimus troll and
    B: point out the supposed lies or correct the “errors”.

    So sick of people like you ignoring reality and making snide comments to imply the post is false and there is no crisis in Ambulance Victoria! This example of SRU waiting for back up that takes for ever has been going on for years and most MICA/paramedics could give multiple examples including my self going back 6 years ago. Situation since then has continued down hill. only now there are more people like you attempting to spin the situation. Shame on You.

  8. Ernst Millet says:

    Please point out the supposed lies and mistruths of Fair-Go. I would be happy to give multiple examples of Ambulance Victoria failures over the last six years in the public arena and as for slander and liable laws, I will happy defend every statement I make in court of law as truth is a complete defence. so how about you start……first example of lie/mistruth is……?????? ……………………

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