How Paramedics are Coping with Response Time Targets?
Paramedics are dedicated to serve. They have the desire to make it to their patients in time, as early as possible once a call comes in, but sometimes certain factors can simply get in the way. There are a number of issues that have plagued ambulance response times, which also affect the entire network as a whole. In some of the recent incidents issues might have been avoided with proper planning, strategy, and services. As ambulances are a life-saving tool they often get criticised for their quality of care, response times, and overall services.
Response Time Issues that Exist
Response times to 999 calls have worsened since 2011. Studies are showing that response times between December 2011 and December 2013 have changed drastically, almost doubling in the time it took for ambulances to reach a person with a life threatening condition. In fact, in 2011 the response time was 295.2 seconds versus the 405 seconds of 2013. Further statistics show that every 7 minutes someone dies of a heart attack in the UK.
Ambulance services have been examined in greater detail even so far as to have inquests with regard to some treatment due to a 26 year old dying of a brain haemorrhage after it took longer than normal response times for an ambulance to get to a remote area of Norfolk. Another patient, 93, died of an improper heartbeat while in an ambulance due to a four hour response to her 999 call. A three year old died due to a 3 times longer than average response time to find the home. The reason the baby died was “because too many blue doors” existed on the target street and the ambulance got lost.
999 Too Busy to Handle Calls
Ambulance response time is just one problem that exists with the response time. It is also 999 being too busy to get to the calls and get an ambulance sent in time. To correct the 999 issues, the long term plan is to create 111 with better access so that social and health care can answer non-life threatening calls. In this way someone can get answers to health questions they have without tying up the emergency number, thus giving those with life threatening situations a better chance of connecting with a 999 operator and getting the ambulance on the way.
Typical National Response Time
Despite issues in certain areas, on the grand scale most ambulance services have arrived at a scene under the 8 minute mark and are on hand to help patients. It means there is actually greater response by paramedics showing up on scene under the response time and ready to work than some of the alarming cases that have created such a change.
Paramedics Deserve Kudos
While there are some alarming tales such as the ambulance that had to stop and fill up on petrol before finishing their response to a life threatening situation, the national average of ambulance response times and paramedics able to perform their jobs are up. Often the focus is on the negative in order to get people to act or push for action; however, paramedics deserve to be rewarded for handling response times better and ensuring that patients get the help they need.
Many have to realise that it is not just paramedics who deal in emergency response. The call has to go through, the ambulance has to be dispatched, and then when the patient arrives at an NHS hospital the paramedics need to get the patient offloaded, secured in the hospital and back out on the road to deal with more calls.
More often than not in many cases it has taken a longer time at the hospital to get patient’s transferred into the hospital care out of the ambulance. This means care of others is put on hold while the ambulance has to wait. More effective systems such as computer technology where papers can be printed quicker or the files transferred in the system rather than documents being involved help.
More People Signing up to be Paramedics
Of late more of the young generation have enrolled in paramedic courses in order to be a part of the life-saving service. This helps as it puts more trained personnel out on the streets. By increasing the number of ambulances, staff members, and getting paperwork to move swiftly there is likely to be more positive changes in the future. For now it is clear that while winter can slow the process for safety purposes on the road, most paramedics are prepared and handle response times better than the last two years.