999: Show them the love!

Rarely do I sit down and write a blog post in an instant response to something I’ve seen, I’m quite a reflective person, bit of a thinker and I tend to muse on things and have a list of ‘to write when I have time’ blog posts, but occasionally, not often, but every now and again I read something and I know I need to blog right then and there. Whatever I have seen or heard literally drives me to start tapping on the keyboard.

Tonight is one of those occasions. I was happily mindlessly wandering over facestalker tonight when I saw this update:

Having approved the £144 payment enabling me to do my job, I can’t wait to get back in for another night of 999 calls for…. cramp, been sick, cut finger, expecting this baby for over 8 months now I didn’t save the 10p a week I might need for a taxi, or got no credit to call my GP calls #notfeelingthelove What happened to the NHS?

Now I don’t know the detail and don’t even know what the payment is for, but the rest of the update just made me a little bit sad and quite quickly, a bit angry. The person in question I don’t know particularly well, but what I do know confidently is that she is a caring, compassionate and committed professional. What I also know from other people’s experiences and stories, shared on twitter mostly, is that the NHS is seriously struggling to cope with some of the recent changes, and that the general public is probably/possibly [this is a hunch, not evidenced] using it more, and perhaps using some services incorrectly.

So where does that leave us. It leaves professionals, who love their jobs suffering from poor morale and #notfeelingthelove. If we stop to consider this for two minutes, that could effect each and every one of us, for example if you need an ambulance and there’s not one available, or if you need an ambulance and the personnel working it have had to deal with nothing but inappropriate calls for the six hours that precede your call. I remember talking to this individual last year about her work the previous Sunday, she shared a story about going to a call at the very end of her shift because the person concerned had held on in the hope they could wait to see their GP when they opened on the Monday. Of course they needed assistance and what that meant was unpaid overtime, being late home and yet there wasn’t an ounce of regret or concern, she shrugged it off as part of doing the job she loved.

It really stuck with me that conversation because my Dad had been that person. Not literally, because we live in a different part of the country, but we had a similar situation of almost identical circumstances. It’s really rubbish being ill at the weekend, but it’s even worse being in hospital at the weekend.  So on a number of occasions Dad would hold on, hold on, not want to go into hospital, be positive all weekend until Sunday night/early hours of Monday morning when it became clear if he didn’t get help then we couldn’t guarantee we could keep him alive until the GP surgery opened. In recent years my family members have had more need to rely on the ambulance service than you’d ever want to admit, my Dad especially had to use the service more than I care to remember. Up until that time I always believed that no-one would call for an ambulance unless they really needed it, a quick chat with ambulance personnel, or one episode of 999 What’s your Emergency will soon shatter that delusion.

Ambulance by gwire

(cc) Photo from flickr by gwire

So why am I waffling on here I hear you ask? The thing is ambulance personnel make all the difference, not just in the saving life bit (which obviously can’t be underestimated), but in how they communicate, calm a situation, take over, reassure, drive like mad wo/men when required, wait in line with you in A&E, including in our experience on a number of occasions where they knew they’d miss their targets but wanted to see Dad settled. They are for many people the first port of call, on the very front line, not knowing what they will find when they arrive at an address, but expected to be professional, caring and courteous whoever or whatever awaits them.

I doubt that anyone would choose to work in the ambulance service for the money, career prospects or good working hours. People choose to do that work because they care, for many it’s a vocation, a demanding one at that. Our NHS relies on these individuals to care, it needs them, we shouldn’t hope that they work hard because they care, we shouldn’t rely on them to care for patients who don’t take care of themselves, but we do.

From a purely selfish perspective you never know when you might need an ambulance, and therefore we all need our ambulance personnel to love their jobs, or at least not to feel demoralised about them. So, to each and every one of you reading this who gets pregnant, or is going out for a few beers this weekend, just make some plans for your transport that don’t involve an ambulance, unless you really need it, and to each and every amazing, caring, compassionate, life saving individual working across the NHS, or getting people to the NHS, I say thank you.

Update: October 2013

Yesterday morning I heard that a crew from the same team as this post was written about were subjected to a vicious attack while responding to a 999 call. This attack left one member of staff in hospital with a fractured skull and both members no doubt fighting psychological demons for the foreseeable future. I then found out that the crew member praised for getting her injured colleague to hospital was a close friend, someone who I’ve long respected, admired and been supported by. Indeed the person through whom I know the brilliant individual this post was written about. The response on facebook as this has developed has ranged the full gamut of human emotions, as have I to be honest, shock, disbelief, anger, shock….and I’m just hearing about it. Have no idea how the affected crew members are meant to return to normal, or their colleagues who had to goto work yesterday knowing what had happened.

Am left again just feeling dumbstruck at some people’s innate stupidity and selfishness and more positively in complete awe of the individual’s who choose to put other’s ahead of themselves. Again thanks doesn’t seem like enough but not sure what else to say.

0 comments on “999: Show them the love!”

Helen says:

Thanks George, put a smile on my face. I try not to moan but recently it’s all getting a bit much. The payment is to register with HCPC, our governing body, it keeps the public safe & I never grudged paying until now.
Will try n hold that smile for the remainder of the shift xxx

BagMonkey says:

At last, an honest appraisal of what we do, I can only hope that people read it and,actually take some notice..

Sadly, I somehow doubt those who should take notice actually will and we’ll still go for the toothache and ‘I think they’ve been spiked’ crowd while your grandma waits till Monday morning while having her heart attack cos “she thinks she’s being a nuisance…”

Thanks Helen and BagMonkey – had some concerns about writing this for fear of putting off ‘my grandma’ from using a service that is deserved and needed; but also felt it was an important conversation to start. Have just seen https://www.itv.com/itvplayer/tonight/series-17/episode-21-crisis-in-a-and-e-tonight and hope that too will cause others to question whether they need to visit A&E/call an ambulance. Keep up the good work.

Maz says:

So refreshing to read your blog. Yes we do care, and it usually is the really ill person who hangs on and on until they really need us
I doubt very much though, that your blog, or even 999 What’s Your Emergency, will deter those who casually ring 999 and expect an ambulance there asap while some poor person who really needs us, waits for what must seem an eternity
Thank you for putting your thoughts into words

Ken Eastwood says:

Thanks for writing that post. Couldn’t agree with you more. Very humbled by the devotion and commitment to helping others. It’s such a shame a growing minority cause such an unnecessary burden. As for the idiots who abuse, assault and otherwise attack our emergency services, well in the interests of decency and politeness I best not type my thoughts!!

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