Thursday, December 11, 2008

AMPDS again

Last weekend was really busy for the LAS. We were working nights, and spent the vast majority of our shifts running round after people who'd been going to Christmas parties, drinking too much and falling over.

This is where I have a problem with our AMPDS system that our colleagues in control have to follow. Almost all calls for drunks are Cat A calls because the patient is "unconscious", meaning they get priority over other calls to people who are actually ill as opposed to being drunk, with a cardiac arrest being the only type of call that would get a higher priority.

So at half past two in the morning, after going to a flurry of calls to drunk people, we were sent to an underground station for an elderly woman who'd been knocked over by someone running for a train and was now lying on a cold platform with a hip injury. Because this call was an Amber call (Cat B), it had been held for two hours, no doubt in favour of the Cat A drunks. This is not the fault of our dispatchers - it's the system that demands we send ambulances to the Cat A calls first, regardless of what is actually wrong with them.

The woman was in a lot of pain, and may well have broken her hip. She was surprisingly still in very good spirits and laughed and joked with us as we gave her a pain killer before moving her to the ambulance.

This is when AMPDS is wrong in my opinion. This lady needed an ambulance far more than any of the drunks we'd been to, all of whom could have made it home with a little help from their friends, but calling 999 for an ambulance is so much easier! She'd been waiting so long that the last train was long gone and the station had closed. I have no doubt that if dispatchers were allowed to use common sense, then this lady would have had an ambulance much quicker. But they're not.

For our management, getting to those Cat As is what matters, cos we have to hit the targets, so our dispatchers have to send on what they know will be just another drunk, or a violent person who will kick the crap out of some poor unsuspecting FRU person. Get well soon "Fred"