I had a novel experience this weekend: allocating on the South East on a Friday night. “South East” is a rather misleading name because the sector actually covers the whole of the West End and related area but doesn’t cover Bromley and Orpington (the far south east point of London) – those are part of the South West. Confused already? Good. It’s fair to say I haven’t had such a busy night since New Year’s Eve. In the space of about four hours, we had: (in approximate chronological order, though to be perfectly honest it is all a bit mixed up in my head now)

* One “man lying unconscious in the road” who actually turned out to have a life threatening head injury. (And about fifty who were just drunk or asleep.)
* One man hit by a fast moving bus. Would only have needed one ambulance if it were not for the two idiot callers who rang in about the incident giving the COMPLETELY WRONG location.
* One massive fight in a nightclub, requiring three ambulances.
* One massive fight in the street, with seven patients, needing two ambulances.
* (At exactly the same time as the last call, about 2 miles away) A shooting with three patients, requiring three ambulances.
* One BBA where the baby had some problems after birth, needing two ambulances and a midwife.
* One man randomly dropping dead in the street, needing two ambulances.
* One man randomly dropping dead in a community hall, needing two ambulances.
* One great big humungous fight on a fight involving forty people. Fortunately, the “patients” did us all a big favour by running away from the scene as soon as the police turned up, meaning we didn’t have to send any ambulances. Which was good, because we didn’t have any left.
* One fight with two people unconscious right at the wrong end of the sector.
* About twenty rubbish little fights.
* Five hundred bazillion million people who had drunk too much and passed out in the road. A lot of these were dealt with by the Booze Bus – an ambulance dedicated to picking up drunk people and ferrying them to hospital, thus freeing up the “real” ambulances for people who are actually ill – who must have the least enviable job in the whole of the service and deserve everyone’s heartfelt thanks for actively volunteering to deal with impolite drunks and pools of vomit.
* A selection of people inconsiderately having medical emergencies like heart attacks and strokes at the worse possible time. Couldn’t they wait until morning, eh?

I asked the other allocator, who regularly works on the South East, if it was like this EVERY weekend.

“No,” he said. “This is a quiet one. Next weekend it’s payday, so it’ll be much busier. It gets like Beirut out there. You can have five calls in Leicester Square, which all sound the same, but not quite, and when you ring them back the callers are too drunk to speak, so you don’t know if you have one patient or five. The only way you can deal with it is to send an ambulance in, wait till it finds someone, then ring everyone back and ask if they have an ambulance there.”

What a nightmare! And I thought Romford on a Friday night was bad!

I start with my new watch on the East Central desk tomorrow.

Published Feb 22, 2009 - 23 Comments and counting

23 Comments on “Busy Night”
  1. K Says:

    Are you sure you were not despatching South Auckland – New Zealand??

  2. Mark Myers Says:

    Well, they do keep messing with the sector boundaries so anything’s possible…

  3. Annonymouse Says:

    “Are you sure you were not despatching South Auckland – New Zealand??”
    some ejit will present that idea to the Minister for Health on Monday morning as the way forward in centralisation and better co-ordination between services, thus saving money, sorry i mean improving services

  4. Always Tired Says:

    meh! just an average night in Plymouth that ;-)

  5. MarkUK Says:

    Be careful Anonnymouse, they may take you seriously.

    Can’t you see the cost savings of reciprocal arrangements with Oz? As it’s their night when it’s our day, and vice versa, you could have Control room staff doing days only. This would remove the need for an antisocial hours element in the pay.

  6. Always Tired Says:

    No they’ll go the cheap route and out-source to India!….perhaps that’s an idea I shouldn’t have said out loud…

  7. Kitling Says:

    Why do you need 2 ambulances for 1 patient?

  8. petoskystone Says:

    there are so many incidents in my area that the papers/media generally skip all but a representative 2 or 3. when i read ‘victim not cooperative with police’ i know that within the week a few more shootings will make a non-appearence in the paper as the victim ‘thanks’ another for shooting him. & so forth & so on.

  9. Matt Dinnery Says:

    You send two ambulances to a suspended – it’s always been the case.
    Read back through some of Mark’s earlier posts (do a search on “suspended”) and you’ll understand a lot more!

    Flirtatious First Aider

  10. Erin Says:

    Now, I did read somewhere once that the Aussie government was considering out sourcing their call takers to India.

    When the last one I spoke to couldn’t spell my simple name, it does tend to make me a little worried… (then again, in the good ol’ South West, I still don’t believe some of the anglo decents speak English. No amount of hours call taking has convinced me otherwise).

  11. loulou Says:

    Chin up! I’m sure you’re doing great. A new team always takes ages to get used to let alone a new area and new crews. Give it time. Good luck!

  12. Bec Says:

    umm, just an FYI, South Auckland is in NZ, not Oz :-)

  13. Flora Gardens Says:

    Same difference!!!

    It’s outside the M25…..

  14. NJ EMS Says:

    Time for Zoloft.

  15. Trauma Queen » Sharon’s on holiday. Says:

    [...] Mark’s latest post reminded my of my favourite Essex girl joke. Those of you of an international bent might just have to shrug your shoulders on this one, sorry [...]

  16. ANdrew Says:

    Mark/Suzi ehat ever may call you LOL us nice people in sunny Romford area are not that bad and you will be missed in the NE sector I had thought maybe it was you I had been talking to for so long but thoguht no but now I know it was

  17. Spieler | The Best of the Web Says:

    [...] Nee Naw has a busy night. [...]

  18. Suzi Brent Says:

    Kitling, sorry I didn’t answer you before. The reason you need two ambulances for a suspended is because you need four people to carry out resus. There’s lots of things to be done like bag-and-masking the patient, doing compressions, firing up the AED, giving drugs, getting the patient into the ambulance, calming down the bystanders, passing the blue call and of course driving the vehicle. It’s too much for two people to do!

  19. Norton 360 3.0 Says:

    South Auckland oz – an easy mistake to make

  20. chris Says:

    2 ambulances for one person just doesnt feel that efficient…

  21. Suzi Brent Says:

    Well, putting four people on each ambulance wouldn't be very efficient either…

  22. Band 4 Dispatcher Says:

    Suzi, I am a fellow dispatcher. I have heard of your blog, but never visited it before. You should be fired/resign. You are an shame to the service. If you don't like it, find another career. I CANNOT believe that LAS Still employ you.

  23. Suzi Brent Says:

    I am a little confused by your comment. Why exactly do you think I should be fired/resign? For letting off steam about a busy night? For keeping a blog? For sending two ambulances to each cardiac arrest? Please clarify. Thanks.

    Nee Naw
    Nee Naw was a blog about life in the London Ambulance Service control room. It was written by Suzi Brent from 2005 to 2010. The blog is no longer being updated, but the archives will remain here.
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