You can tell the real emergency, can’t you?

Well, hasn’t it been a bit quiet in here of late.
I came across this and thought it worthy so here it is.

This as you can tell is a problem for ambulance the world over.
But in Victoria, the emergency dispatch staff would most likely be disciplined, or even sacked for talking to the fellow from Wolverhampton in this way.
They would have varied from the rigid and inflexible script that has been set for them by the management of Ambulance Victoria, which requires an ambulance be sent to pretty much anyone who wants one, regardless.

And then there would be no ambulances left for the second call, because they would be out with the first fellow.

Fixing that will go a long way to fixing response times, as there may actually be an available ambulance somewhere nearby!

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2 Responses to You can tell the real emergency, can’t you?

  1. Arthur says:

    Not entirely true. 70,000 calls every year being filtered by RefCom, many just like the one you’re talking about. Nurses & Ambos working hard to avoid the scenario described above.

    Yes, some crap still gets through, but this sort of thing generally does not. Esta has it’s problems, but exaggerating them doesn’t help.

  2. Taxi Booking Operator says:

    This highlights the fundamental, and what I perceive as the primary issue, with our system that is in “crisis”.

    However, the challenge we now have is that those calling for ‘assistance’ are a little more negatively intelligent than this 999 Twat which is proven by the fact that they know what to say as opposed to saying what the real problem is.

    Chest Pain and Strokes are their weapon of choice and we can thank recent public service announcements for raising awareness…

    Additionally, the questioning algorithm offers a very fine ‘baiting’ service. A great example of this is when someone calls because they have an arthritic knee causing them pain. The appropriate line of questioning within the triage would see an Operator ask “Do you have chest pain?”. At this point, it’s very common for a reply to contain “oh yes, now that I think about; it I do! I do have chest pain yes”. My favorite is the ‘breathing normally’ challenges. Or how about the intoxicated individual who is running around screaming at everyone, smashing up the house but is ‘Not Alert’ because they are not ‘responding appropriately’. The system is designed to pickup the worst case scenario, therefore protecting the organisation. However, it doesn’t protect the people who really need help but way of gross over triage of people really not needing an Ambulance.

    Operators face a significant challenge – that being, there’s what is really going on and what they ethically have to go with. What is really going on is very rarely the picture painted by the caller. Let me tell you; there’s nothing more frustrating than being told one thing but having to interpret it as another. Like the grandmother who calls because she can’t breathe properly… but needs to get off the phone to have a cigarette. What makes it even more difficult for the Operator and why the complaint can’t be challenged is because the Operator is not in attendance and physically can’t make an effective and accurate assessment.

    As you can see, this all comes back to the person requesting assistance to paint an accurate picture for the Operator so that the same Operator can give our colleagues on the road a better understanding as to what they’re traveling to. Unfortunately, an accurately painted picture is as rare as hens teeth and this, for those reading, is the reason why the ‘triage’ system is killing people.

    Whether the caller is intentionally misleading or exaggerating the situation – an Operator will never accurately know. Because of this, erring on the side of caution is the most appropriate action taken – infact, it’s a written policy that an Operator errs on the side of caution. It goes without saying, and what has been proven in the courts, that even though a caller will intentionally mislead an Operator, it is still the Operator who will suffer the consequences if that same Operator took appropriate action based on what information the caller had given and the caller or their patient suffers because of it.

    How do we resolve this problem? if you’re caught misleading an emergency service – you’re charged, accordingly. There are laws that are instilled to quell such behavior – why are they not being aggressively used?

    Additionally, educate the public thoroughly. An Ambulance is for an Emergency. People either don’t understand what an emergency is, or blatantly ignore the definition. Educate people what the repercussions are if the service is abused. Other national services have ran successful campaigns educating individuals, why hasn’t AV? Drop the in-school 000 education and get out into the community and educate the primary abusers – adults! There is plenty that can be done and I question why nothing has happened. Maybe the Government doesn’t want to piss off the voter? Who knows… but we need to start doing something yesterday.

    As for the twat in the UK 999 call – he joins a growing number of individuals that perceive the Ambulance service to be a taxi service.

    As a professional in this industry, I’m proud of the service that is offered. I am embarrassed by the people who are abusing it. If the Government won’t fix it, it’s up to others to fix it. Everyone affected should band together and start mending this flawed system.

    ———————————- A MESSAGE TO THE PUBLIC ———————————-

    Prior to calling for an Ambulance, Ask yourself:
    -“can I do something to help myself which would render a better (&/or quicker) outcome for me”. Remember, hospital waiting rooms are not Theme Parks and can get rather tedious. After hour GP’s, Nurse on Call – you name it, you have plenty of other resources at-hand.

    -if you’ve planned for your opening line to the Operator to be: “I don’t think it’s an emergency”, then, do you really have an emergency? This is more common than you think and does not make you an exception or a better person in the operators eyes.

    -“If I tell a little white lie to the Operator or exaggerate my problem, maybe I’ll get an Ambulance quicker, because after listening to the news I’m conscious of the Ambulance response times”. True, if you know what to say you’ll get an Ambulance quicker. However, you’ll also kill someone in the process and you’ll look like a fool to the Paramedics. Guaranteed.

    But most importantly, ask yourself – “what exactly has happened”. This is the same question an Operator will ask you. I’ll let you ponder on this one, but don’t think about it for too long…

    Lastly: take a minute to watch these 2 little videos (courtesy: NSW & QLD Ambulance & YouTube):

    Wouldn’t you feel humiliated if this was you?

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