Today’s blog by Craig King in the resilience team is very topical, reflecting on how the ambulance service works in winter’s trickier weather conditions.
Forecasts for the next few weeks show we are likely to be in for a cold spell, with temperatures plunging and snow likely; we’ve seen today already a few inches around the region, so how does it affect the ambulance service?
The Trust has winter plans in place to ensure resources are available to reach patients during severe weather. These plans include having access to 4×4 vehicles and regular weather updates from the Met Office. The Trust works closely with various volunteer groups which use 4x4s and voluntary aid societies which play a vital role by ensuring clinicians can get to remote places if an EEAST 4×4 is not available.
We also work with the hospitals to look at times where peak demand is likely, and how non-emergency appointments can be re-scheduled to help ease any pressures.
Ambulances are equipped with extra blankets and heaters are serviced regularly to make sure they are in good working order. During peak periods, an ‘operations cell’ made up of senior managers co-ordinates our response to severe weather and, in conjunction with commonly recognised information picture (CRIP) reports submitted by the control centres, examine hospital delays, call volume, staffing, and resource deployment.
We experience higher call volumes during poor weather, in part due to the effects that extremes of temperature have on vulnerable persons. Senior citizens and the very young are particularly prone to excessive ranges of temperature along with other susceptible members of society such as those with chronic illnesses, and adverse weather and poor road conditions impact upon the time it takes for our resources to reach the scene of an emergency call.
Ambulance staff and volunteers alike work hard to deal with any difficulties in reaching patients during extreme conditions, but patients who do not have life threatening illness or injury may have to wait a little longer than expected for ambulance transport to hospital – please remember to follow the advice you can find here http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/winter-campaign-2012.htm