Giving the public a better understanding of the 999 operations of the ambulance service is the focus of the Right Call campaign which began in November and concentrates on letting people know what happens to a 999 call and some of the myths surrounding how we triage and treat patients. Nicholas Jones, Assistant General Manager for the health and emergency operations centres – better known as the control rooms – blogs about what the call handlers and dispatchers have been dealing with lately.
“Often the calls which come into the HEOCs are what could be considered our ‘bread and butter’ calls; patients who have fallen, are short of breath or have been involved in traffic collisions. However on a daily basis call handlers and dispatchers, along with HEOC colleagues, manage demanding calls in very difficult situations.
Between December 1 and February 13, our call handlers helped to ‘deliver’ 40 babies over the phone before the ambulance arrived. Babies were delivered in baths, in the street, in bed and in the front seat of a car. During the same period call handlers also assisted 577 patients whose delivery was imminent or where the baby had not been fully delivered before the crew arrived.
Meanwhile, call handlers answered more than 2,000 calls about patients in cardiac arrest, with 340 of these taken to hospital. Cardiac arrest happens when a person stops breathing and their heart has stopped, and every second counts to get them life-saving support in the form of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and advanced treatment. In fact, HEOC also received lots of additional calls from patients who actually went into cardiac arrest whilst on the phone.
No two days are the same in HEOC, just as it isn’t for our colleagues who see patients face to face, and there are many examples of difficult calls which are managed daily and our team are proud to have so many hard working and dedicated staff delivering the best possible patient care and assisting with pre-arrival support to patients, friends, family and other members of the public.”