Thursday, February 01, 2007

Food for thought

Corny title, I know (you'll see why)

Before I go on about an article I stumbled across- just to say thanks to the comment contributors to the 'Prisons' post below. I will come back to that, I just need some time to sit and think about just exactly what it is I feel about the whole thing.

On a different note: I've been stirred into action by this article.

Its about the two ambulancemen (diversity alert! I know I said ambulancemen, but in this case it's accurate, they are both men, before I incur the wrath of Pc Bloggs) who dared eat whilst on duty.

Well, thats a touch inaccurate I know, in the sense they weren't sacked for eating on duty. They were sacked for having a meal break at the expense of a 999 call. Having looked into this, I have found somewhat to my surprise that ambulance staff aren't paid for their meal breaks. Therefore they are not on duty for the time they have their meal breaks. Therefore they don't answer calls.

According to the BBC, however, North Yorkshire get paid an allowance to cover this eventuality.

Personally, I think sacking them is a response way beyond proportional. There have been many occasions, especially on night shifts, where I haven't had a meal break for the whole shift, especially when younger in service (on a crime scene all night with no relief), its one of those things you expect in the job. At the same time, when I do have something in, I am very reluctant to leave it. It probably doesn't help that over a third of calls to the ambulance service are a waste of their time anyway.

What would I do if I had one of my crews refusing to leave a meal break? No hard and fast rule, really. Depends on the circumstances of the call and what they have been dealing with beforehand. But if they had no good reason for refusing other than they had just ordered their hot food, I would certainly look in to discipline and neglect of duty. But not sack them (not that I could anyway, just hypothetically speaking)

I've tried looking at their website, but the ambulance services underwent another restructure last July and still haven't managed to sort their websites out other than saying "we don't exist any more". What is the point in all this restructuring exactly?

I'm hoping some of the growing band of paramedic bloggers might have a gander here. I'm a great fan of the ambulance service, even though I do think most of them are completely certifiable for doing a job that invariably has as much danger as ours with less kit (where I am, they haven't even got individual radios. I had one call where a paramedic had to call 999 for police from his mobile whilst fighting for his skin in a house. His colleague was GBH'd on that call, he just about survived by using a choke hold to pretty much put the lowlife into a hypoxia coma as opposed to the drug induced one he'd just been revived from)

So I hope the Yorkshire Ambulance chaps are successful in their appeal.