As I mentioned before, the new AMPDS protocols (the thing that tells call takers what to ask) come in very soon. I haven’t had my training yet but lots of the others have, and on the whole they look great – less potential for red calls to people with flu, easier to understand terms (eliminating the dreaded “I don’t know, I’m not a doctor”) and appropriate questions for scenarios that weren’t covered before (like epileptics who feel they are about to have a fit).
There is one thing that made me laugh, though.
Previously, the identification of strokes was a bit hit and miss – we simply triaged something as a stroke if someone said they thought it was a stroke, or if the call taker thought it sounded a bit like a stroke. Now we have to do the FAST test – as in that advert where the woman has a fire in her head! So, for “Face”, we ask the patient to smile and the caller tells us what happens. For “Arms”, we ask them to raise their arms, and for “Speech”… here’s the good bit… we make them repeat the following phrase:
“The early bird catches the worm”!
Can you imagine it? We live in London, where a sizable percentage of our callers don’t speak English. Many of their elderly patients – the people most likely to be having strokes – don’t speak a word of English. I would hazard a guess that “the early bird catches the worm” is a piece of idiomatic speech that doesn’t translate too well into Bengali/Farsi/Turkish and confusion and chaos is going to reign as soon as we start doing this. I can just imagine the reactions: “My father is having stroke and you are making him recite proverb? Just send ambulance!” It’s never going to work. Someone didn’t think this through. Or more likely, someone in the middle of America where people with English as a second language are virtually unheard of thought this up.
With any luck, they will let us replace “the early bird…” with a universally understood phrase of our choice. Something like “I am not a doctor” or “Just send the ambulance” would probably do.