Monday, January 02, 2006

Back To Normal After New Year

New Year’s Eve was a busy one for the LAS – there were 38 stabbings in the first three hours of 2006.  What on earth is that all about?  At the busiest point, our call-takers were taking calls at a rate of 400 an hour.  Hats off to them – they worked bloody hard, as did the crews on the road.

By Midnight of New Years Day, the number of calls received for the 24hour period had topped 6,100.  On a normal day, we’ll take around 3,500 calls on average.

But it was back to normal today – my first patient called because she’s had “difficulty in breathing” for the last two months, my second called because she was hungry.  The one that really annoyed me though was a call to a 13 year old girl with a broken arm.  I’m not annoyed because she broke her arm, but I’m annoyed it became a Category A call.  
The reason?  That old stupid question in the system “Is the patient breathing normally?”  The girl was crying (as you’d expect from a 13 year old girl who’s broken her arm) so of course she wasn’t breathing normally.  
My personal opinion is if the question was changed to “Is the patient having difficulty in breathing” we would probably halve the number of calls that are mis-categorised as immediately life-threatening, i.e. category A.

Still, it should be entertaining later in the month – I’ve persuaded Mark Myers to come out on a rideout on the car.  In return, I have to go and listen to him take some calls.  I don’t mind this in the slightest.  I’ve always maintained that road-staff should spend one shift per year in control to see what it’s like for them, and that control staff should come and see how their decisions and those of their superiors affect us on the road.

Being someone who’s prepared to practice what he preaches, I’ve decided to put my money where my mouth is.  Actually, it will be for the second time, cos I’ve already spent a day in control last year, but a bargain is a bargain, and I also believe in carrying out what I think should happen.

It’s just a shame I can’t get a paid observation shift in control.


Blogger Aislínge said...

Hiya, "Steve"!

Happy New Year from one EMT across the pond to another! I am a volunteer EMT with Parsippany's Rockaway Neck FAS. I go on calls rather frequently - my normal on-call night is Thursday, and I'm on from 18h00 to 06h00. It can be a very long night.

I wrote about the calls I have ended and started the years with (2005, 2006) and then did a search on - ha, ha... the pager is going off now with another call for the Monday night crew. 54-year-old female with chest pains. Time out: 1928. They just got in not ten minutes ago... Anyway, yours was the first blog up. And I had to laugh about your response to the call with the 13-year-old female with a broken arm. Don't blame dispatch for that one, necessarily... it is my experience that family members will say that to get a "faster" response. Sheesh. It drives me crazy, too. We had one night a couple of months ago where of the three calls, all three were blown out as difficulty breathing and none of them had anything other than a patent airway!

I have been an EMT now since March 2003; fully certified since April 2004. I love it. It is fun, interesting and always something new and totally mindbogglingly shocking - the things people do! We have a lot of major highways that run through our area, so we have a lot of MVCs and such...

38 stabbings in the first how many hours of 2006? Is this how the British celebrate New Year's, bacuse none of my penfriends mentioned THAT! Yikes. I've only been on one stabbing call. We are not in a major city, so we just don't have much of that. And I have never been on a GSW. You must have, riding in London.

Well, please feel free to visit my blog, - I hope you will find time to write. It's always nice to make new EMT friends!

(actually, that is my name!)

12:36 am  
Anonymous Mark Myers said...

There are some callers who say "yes" to everything to get a faster response (sometimes they treat it like a game show and you can hear them trying to decide what the "right" answer is) and there's not much we can do about those (except start introducing a fine for pointless calls!) but there's definitely a lot of calls where the caller is answering truthfully: "no, she's breathing fast" or "no, she's gasping", and it's the fault of the system that these end up as Cat As. It's just as frustrating for those of us in control as for the crews.

Steve, looking forward to my observation day very much... you'd better get me some decent calls and no twenty-five year olds with boils on their faces and the like!

5:37 am  
Blogger Steve said...

Just to clarify - I don't blame the call-takers or the despatchers. It's the %^&$ing stupid AMPDS system and the way some of the questions are worded.

5:48 am  
Blogger darwin said...

We made that exact change to the breathing question, as well as "is the patient changing colour?" Has had a good result, but job numbers just keep climbing

11:16 am  
Blogger Spike said...

Mark said sometimes they treat it like a game show and you can hear them trying to decide what the "right" answer is

Pity you're not allowed to say 'you are the weakest link, goodbye!'.

1:33 am  

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