I’ve only known you for a couple of years, but you’ve become quite a close friend. You were the one I called when I was upset over having to leave my Youth unit. You were the one I ranted to when my line manager put me in an impossible situation. You were the one who came to me first when my (now, but not then) ex-boyfriend was spreading rumours about me behind my back, and you only grinned and bore it when I accidentally dropped you in it when I dumped him. You were also the one who teased me incessantly when a guy I really don’t get on with was flirting with me all evening, and even asked me out on a date, and I didn’t even realise.
And despite all this, sometimes you really drive me up the wall. You’ve just left the Organisation because you’ve fallen out with a number of the new leaders. I think that this is a silly reason to leave, and I tried to persuade you not to, but ultimately you’re a volunteer and it’s your choice. And since you left, you haven’t stopped spouting off, in public I hasten to add, about how it’s all going to go wrong. You even posted this feeling on Twitter, immediately after one of our colleagues announced that he’d been given a new role within the Organisation. It was blatantly obvious what you were on about, you weren’t even slightly vague about. (I’ve already written about how much this annoys me, so I’m not going to labour the point.)
The bit that gets me really cross, however, is what you’ve been complaining about. Specifically, about how you didn’t appreciate being pulled up on not doing certain activities within the Organisation because you’ve had other commitments. Now, this is a fair complaint, and I’d have no problem with it, if you hadn’t been doing the same thing to another group of members only months ago. I have a distinct memory of you berating a student committee for not sending people to events, because they’ve been busy with their university work (and weren’t even qualified), all after I had spent ages reminding them all that they were at University to get a degree, not to do first aid.
Now this attitude annoyed me at the time. It caused me to have to send one person home to go do their essay which was due the next day (that was one of those, you will be going home now moments I hate). It also caused one of their (still unqualified) members to be left on their own at an event, because I was running late (and having a near panic attack in case they got called on) and I was the only qualified member going to the event. Now it’s infuriating, as you’re bitching about someone doing the same to you, and to make it worse, I don’t even think you can see it.
Of cause, there’s no point me discussing this with you, because it will just cause an argument, and I really can’t be doing with that at the moment. And I care about you dearly, and definitely don’t want to fall out with you over this. I’ll just have to keep my thoughts in my head, for the moment, and resist the urge to tell you precisely what I think.
And people wonder why I’m not the most sociable person in the world…
Wow, been a while since I’ve been on here… Excuse me while I dust of the cobwebs, and begin again with a bit of a rant.
Okay, rapid catch-up: A few months ago, The Organisation went through a bit of a restructure, from Counties to Regions. The basic idea (as far as I can see) was to save some money, by cutting back on some of the admin staff and other things that could be merged and getting rid of things we don’t really need, and to help standardise things across the country. The former is a very laudable goal, if a bit distant from much of the membership, who never really saw the extent of the financial trouble we were in. The latter I think is almost essential. As an organisation, we have had one qualification meaning a hundred different things across the county (sometimes from one unit to another), and that’s just not good enough.
As part of the first goal, budgets were centralised and management of money has moved up a level or two in the leadership structure, and this has caused my first rant. Let me get this clear, I’m not particularly in favour of this change, but I can see how, with a bit of shift in the way we think about things, it could be a good thing. There is no way we could carry on with people spending more money than they were bringing in, and some people refused to take responsibility for their own budgets. Now they don’t have to. The idea is that, if there is a legitimate need for something, and the money to afford it, the Region will pay for it. I can see how this could go wrong, but properly dealt with (from all levels), this could be a good thing.
Now here’s the bit that bugs me: we have had a rash of people crying ‘they’re taking away our money!’ and ‘now we’ll do all the work and they’ll get all the benefit!’ I could understand it a little from of the members who haven’t had things explained to them very well, but from some of the leaders, who I swear are just refusing to understand, this isn’t good enough. It was never ‘our money’ or ‘your money’ or ‘my money’. It is the Organisation’s money. It is charitable funds that have we have to use to pursue our charitable goals. End. Of. Story.
Now, foolishly, in the past, I’ve tried to explain to people how the ‘them doing all the work’ business probably won’t happen. After all, the people doing all the first aid, and bringing in all the money from events, they will be the people who need the uniforms, the consumables and access to vehicles. If people aren’t going out to events, what are they going to use the money on? Of cause, they don’t listen, and I’m beginning to think this is because they’ve got their heart set on being annoyed by the changes.
Which brings me on to my next point. This is a significant change in the way we work and the way we will have to approach practically everything we do. Change will always meet resistance, and it will always upset people. This isn’t an excuse to treat people badly, and it’s quite possible that some people have been treated less than ideally. There have also been some controversial decisions made by many people (past and present), and someone will always take these personally, whatever the intentions behind them. If you’re unhappy, that’s fine (er… you know what I mean…). I’ll quite happily sit down with you, let you rant away to a listening ear sympathetic ear if you think it will help you. (I’m getting good at letting such things wash over me…) I just don’t think that mouthing off about each other in public is helpful. Especially given that it looks so one-sided (the ‘bad-guys’, so to speak, are being quite reserved in public). All you’re achieving is winding some people up (which I’m beginning to think is your intention) and alienating others, and the last thing we need right now is division. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that perhaps, if we tried to pull together, to change things and allow ourselves to change, maybe things would start working a little sooner.
Maybe I’m hopelessly idealistic or naïve. Perhaps this is all a disaster waiting to happen and I just can’t see it. Or perhaps it’s just another challenge, and we’ll come out stronger on the other side. More importantly we’re only just three months into this new structure. We can’t expect everything to fall into place straight away. And it won’t be perfect, because nothing is, and that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth working for.
Just because there’s no light at the end of the tunnel yet, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.
I have worked hard to achieve my role of cycle responder. The course isn’t particularly difficult, but keeping in mind most people have done no training at all, it holds you to a particularly high standard. It also has a particular focus on working in crowds of people safely (you should see some of the maneuvers we’re expected to pull off). Just like anyone else operating an emergency vehicle, we’re supposed to be good at what we do.
Now, I freely admit that there are some idiots on bikes wandering around. This is an unfortunate side effect of the lack of licensing of bicycles. Not that I advocate such a license: we need to encourage people to cycle, not make it difficult for them. (Before anyone interjects that a driving license isn’t difficult to get, I’ll point out that, at 23, I am still unable to drive a car due to the financial investment driving lessons require.) Proper planning, a bit of common courtesy amongst road users and decent provision of dedicated cycle ways should help keep these few idiots safe and out-of-the-way, keeping all parties safe.
We, on the other hand, are response cyclists. We are not just cycling as a means to get to work, or to the shops. Our role has two main parts, in order of importance (in my opinion):
- Responding to calls for assistance from the public, other first aiders and the ambulance service
- Patrolling an event, forming a highly visible first aid presence that can be flagged down when needed
To a lesser degree, we also make good a good advert for the Organisation, as we are very visible and something people don’t see every day. (This is something I think we should capitalise on more…)
Now it is fairly obvious that most of our patients will be found in areas where there are most people, and so it is almost inevitable that we mainly respond to places where there is a crowd. This isn’t even allowing for the fact that crowds invariably form around patients. Given that many of our patients are reported as being quite unwell, this means that we will need to respond fast through said crowds. The most effective way of progressing quickly through a crowd is to make a lot of noise, encourage people to move out of our way (whether with noise makers, voices, “blues and twos” or whatever) and pass through the gaps that naturally form in such groups. It is exactly the same technique as walking quickly through a crowd (which most people can do without thinking), but at higher speeds and with bigger turning circles. It’s not perfect (it doesn’t work in very dense crowds) but it still usually gets us on scene faster than a foot patrol (we can take advantage of larger gaps to put on decent bursts of speed) or an ambulance (which can’t exactly dodge and weave in the ways we can). Sometimes it’s only a minute or so faster, but when someone is very unwell, every minute counts.
Unfortunately, to make it work, sometimes we have to cut things fine. Sometimes I will pass someone by inches then swerve suddenly in front of them to swing through another gap. I try to make myself known to everyone, but sometimes I’ll catch people by surprise. This doesn’t (and I say this with feeling) mean that I’ve nearly hit you. Believe me, if 45 kg of bike plus 60 kg of rider nearly hit you, you’d know. In fact, the first thing you’d know of it would be the screech of brakes as I come to a halt behind you. Because, just like that emergency vehicle going down the road, I never go so fast I can’t stop if I need to. I have a lot of momentum, but very good brakes and plenty of practice emergency stopping. I’ll say it again, because I mean it: I am not going to hit you (well unless you decide to jump in front of me at the last-minute, and that, I’m afraid, would be your fault).
On the other hand, when I’m on a patrol, I’m not in a hurry. In fact, I’m particularly keen to save energy for the times when I really need it. This means I’m going to move slowly. Of cause, all velocity is relative, and slow for a cyclists doesn’t always mean the same thing as slow for a pedestrian. Sometimes the crowd sprawled across my patrol path decides they want to dawdle down the street, taking in the sights. And why not? After all, most of the time they are on a day out, and who wants to rush around on a day out.
This makes cycling patrols a very different activity to normal cycling. On a clear road, we’ll move at roughly normal to slow cycling speeds, stopping sometimes to take in the sights ourselves (everyone loves a bit of people watching). Then we hit that dense bit of dawdling crowd, and so we slow down, down to the speed of the crowd. This takes practice; a bike are very difficult to control at such speeds, particularly given the weight of our bikes. That is precisely why we spend so much time on cone skills and low-speed maneuvering.
Once we’re down to the speed of a dawdle, we can quite happily sit there indefinitely. We’re happy to wait until the crowd disperses, a gap in the crowd forms naturally, or we have a reason to speed up (usually a job from control). Of cause, if people move aside to let us through (which happens fairly often once people notice us), we do appreciate it, and we’ll pop through any gap that forms (naturally or otherwise) to move from behind a crowd if the timing is right. We know that sitting behind people makes them uncomfortable. That said, if that’s where we have to stay, so be it. We’ll wait.
Yet again, and I say this with more feeling this time, you are NOT going to get run over. If we have to stop, we will, no problems, no arguments.
People often mention that we should get off and walk when we’re doing this, often adding that they think we’ll get through faster. There are a couple of problems with that argument.
First, while we are riding our bikes, they are surprisingly manoeuvrable and easy to handle. These bikes are HEAVY (have I mentioned this enough yet…) and being able to use your body weight to balance them is extremely useful. As soon as I get off my bike, I exchange 45 kg of well-balanced bicycle for 45 kg of unstable dead weight. More than once I have lost my bike when I have had to get off and push, and when those bikes go, they go big style. I am much more likely to drop that bike on your (and my) shins when I push it than I am to run you over or collide with you while cycling.
Second, these bikes are a real pain to mount and dismount in a crowd. During these times, that 60 kg of rider that could be used to balance the bike is attempting to swing his leg over the bike and position himself on his saddle, all while trying to keep that 45 kg of bike upright during the inherently unstable procedure. Having to do this in a hurry, while talking to Control on the radio and keeping an eye on where he is going (not to mention where everything and everyone else is going) is a serious challenge. We are rapid response vehicles, and like I said before, every minute can count.
In short, constantly getting on and off the bikes is a pain, and staying on is much easier, safer (and highly encouraged by our training).
I appreciate that bikes are unusual, and seeing a fully laden response bike bearing down on you is intimidating. It is my eternal hope that people will eventually get used to response bikes and begin to understand how they behave. If nothing else, I hope people start to realise that we are an emergency vehicle, and just like any other emergency vehicle, the operator really does now what they are doing.
I was going to leave you with two things. The first was a relatively old advert that I really like about how to respond to an oncoming blue light vehicle (in this case, and ambulance). Unfortunately my Google skills have let me down and I can’t find it… The second (which I have found) is my customary musical interlude (on both YouTube and Spotify), this time a track from a band I have just started listening to again after having been forgotten for quite some time. Enjoy.
I’m about (but not straight away) to say something that probably makes me appear very selfish…
As a rule, I have in the past tended to be quite self-effacing (check definition) when it comes to being given opportunities. To be more specific, if there are not enough places to get to an event, I tend to be the sort of person who will offer up his place to another. I like to do things that help other people out, even if it inconveniences or harms me. On a number of occasions, this attitude has least that I have missed out on things that I particularly wanted to do, but there weren’t enough places.
We have a major duty coming up, the first of the season. As always, I said that I would prefer to cycle, but would do anything. Others have been less open-minded ( almost demanding that they be allowed to do whatever…)
As is probably to be expected from an organisation like this, we’re short-staffed. This means that people ( myself included) have been given roles that are less than ideal. Admittedly, I’m on a vehicle, which isn’t terrible, but I probably wont get anything, as is normal when I crew an ambulance… Nevertheless, I’m pretty nonplussed. I’ll do whatever is needed. I figure that at some point this might earn me brownie points, and besides, in my opinion it is the right thing to do…
Now it is possible that, at the last-minute, I’ll get reassigned to a bike. Its happened before, and rumor has it that it has been considered. Naturally, this hasn’t gone down well with some of the others. One person has even gone so far as to encourage me not to take my cycle uniform, so someone else can do it instead ( read: him).
Now I’m sorry. I appreciate that people are disappointed with their roles on the day. However, if I am given the opportunity to cycle, I’m jumping at it… I don’t often get to ride a bike, and I am usually very willing to go wherever I am needed. I see no reason to go against this, just because I’ve been offered a better position and someone else hasn’t.
Of cause, I’m far too tactful (read: timid) to actually challenge that other member on this. I just let it lie, and of cause this probably means he’s assumed I’ve agreed with him. It could be interesting if the situation actually comes up (though I doubt it).
Morale seems to have hit an all-time low in the adult branch of the Organisation recently (or more specifically in this county, I can’t really comment on anywhere else). Attendance at duties is poor, attendance at training isn’t much better, my local Adult unit is about ready to tear itself apart and nobody can be bothered to change anything. For someone like me, who is really passionate about my work with the Organisation, this sucks.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not worried that everything is going to collapse around my ears. At present, we have far too much momentum to do that. It’s just seeing all the wonderful things we could be doing, and all the effort that people at all levels are putting in, and it just getting bogged down in a marsh of apathy, really gets me down.
Take the bikes. They are in dire need of some TLC, and the entire unit needs some strong leadership to get it back on its feet. It’s holding on in there, but only because there’s a few of us who won’t let it lie down and die. I know for a fact that there are people in positions of responsibility who would quite happily allow it to just fade away. They are doing a wonderful job of not letting us change anything.
Part of the problem is that the Organisation is going to be going through a restructuring at some point in the next year. Almost every position above unit leader level (like mine) will essentially be up for redefinition and reappointment, meaning that, when it’s all done, everything could change. In principle this is fine. It’ll mean a few fewer Chiefs, but most of us Indians won’t notice. In fact, given some of the members of senior staff in county office (lead cyclist included…), this could be a very good thing.
Unfortunately, everyone is using this as a reason not to make any changes to anything, as it might get changed back again later.
In my mind, this is a crap response. We shouldn’t be leaving things in a bad way, just in case our changes prove pointless. These things need changing now, not in however many months time, and I really think that this is contributing to our problems. County management don’t seem to care, so why should we lowly people on the ground (or on wheels, if your that way inclined…) There are a few of us trying to sort things out, but we keep getting fobbed off with this excuse, and it’s starting to get old…
And now, after that little rant, a musical interlude inspired by Zemanta‘s suggested links and tags:
Or if you have Spotify: All Time Low – Forget About It
Watch out, the video isn’t strictly safe for work (assuming your work even allows YouTube).
Perhaps I could make this a new feature…
If you have been following the news in the UK (specifically, Wales) recently, you’ll know that they are currently considering a bill that will mean that everyone will be assumed to be an organ donor, unless they opt out. I am in favour of this (and wish the English government would do the same).
I am a registered Organ Donor (and carry a Donor Card), registered with the Anthony Nolan Trust as a potential bone marrow donor and, now that the law has changed, I have been single (and all that entails) for a sufficiently long time and I now have enough weight, I intend to become a blood donor. I strongly believe that those of us who are lucky enough to be healthy should be doing as much as possible to help those who are not (which in part explains how passionate I am about my volunteering).
Now, I’m not saying that everyone should be forced to donate blood, or bone marrow. While I’d love it if you did, I know that this can cause (a small amount of) disruption to your life and could make you unwell for a while, and I don’t want people to go into that without being willing. However, to be blunt, once you are dead, the location of the organs in your body are the least of your worries. (http://xkcd.com/659/) If you are unfortunate enough to die at a stage when your organs are useful to others, then using them to allow one or more people to live on seems perfectly logical.
I know that it is scary, considering your own mortality, and that of the people you know. But this legislation isn’t going to change your chances of dying of something (no matter how many scare stories are bandied around about doctors killing some to save others). And it will decrease the 1000 people a year (cite) who die while waiting for a transplant.
Many people are thought to be willing to be an organ donor, but just haven’t got around to registering, and I’d wager most of these never will. This will help those people follow this through without any trouble, and those who are against it will still be able to say no.
This post was prompted by a news article I spotted earlier, about the church speaking out against an opt-out system. This made me grumpy… While I am not religious, I don’t have a real problem with religion. Everyone is entitled to their beliefs, as long as they don’t harm others.
This will harm people. The church has no problem with organ donation (cite). Why are they arguing against something that will save lives?
If you want to find out about blood donation, go here.
More information about bone marrow donation is available from the Anthony Nolan Trust. They are particularly looking for young male donors.
Organ donor registration can be done here.
(All links for England and probably good for the UK in general. Google is your friend if you need the details for elsewhere.)
If you want to sign up, do, and I encourage it. If you don’t, don’t. If that means that you need to opt-out, do so. At least you will have thought about it.
It’s your choice, and always will be. I may not like your decision, but I’ll still fight to ensure you can make it.
You’ve broken your arm, and you have my sympathy. You were in quite a bit of pain, but the paramedic gave you a lot of nice drugs and you’re not feeling too shabby now. You now need a trip to the local children’s hospital, not a short journey.
Because the paramedic has given you some drugs, the paramedic needs to come along. Fair enough, one of the side effects of morphine is respiratory arrest, and so we need to have something like naloxone available just in case. This isn’t a drug I can give, so the paramedic is needed. Not a problem, we can take two in the back along with a patient.
Except, because you’re under 16, your mother also really needs to come along. Again, this wouldn’t be a particular issue, if it was just you, and about a year ago it wouldn’t have been an issue even with the paramedic along (at least, not officially).
Unfortunately, someone cocked up the weighing of the vehicle, and we’re not really sure if the weight limit can take three people plus a patient in the back. Counting a crew of two (driver and attendant), a patient, a parent and a paramedic, we’re over our limit, and only one person on the crew is expendable: the attendant. Me.
Off my truck goes, and I’m left stood in the primary treatment centre, and I’m in a bit of a fix. I can’t commit myself to a patient in the treatment centre, because I don’t know when my truck will be back and I’ll need to be available for that straight away. I can’t transfer to another vehicle, this will leave someone else without a ride. This leaves me unable to treat, unable to transport, and unable to really do anything.
My crew-mate eventually gets back, but it’s someone else’s turn to get a patient, and nothing else needs transporting. We get a 999 call, which I could respond to, but it gets given to another crew (who’ve already dealt with and transported a patient) and they ignore us when my crew-mate and I ask them to swap.
Now I know this was just bad luck. There wasn’t anything done that was unreasonable (though that last crew did annoy me), but that didn’t leave me any less frustrated. I hadn’t seen a patient all weekend, and still haven’t seen any patient on an ambulance that has needed me to use my advanced skills, and given my continuing track record it’s going to be a long time before I do. Combined with not being able to do NHS shifts any more, this leaves me wondering whether qualifying was actually worth the stress.
Of cause, this was then compounded by everyone else asking if I enjoyed my transport, and then overly lamenting when I tell them that I didn’t actually get to go on it. Oh, and a Control officer going ‘had we known (which they did), we could have sorted something for you’, which irritated me, a lot. Not to mention my friend going on and on and on about the people he’d treated that day, and not getting the hint that I had had a shit day and didn’t want to talk about it.
Still, I’ll probably be crewing during major duty season next year, so I might get something.
Or I might just get sat somewhere, bored out of my skull with an irritating crew mate. Listening to everyone else being kept busy, and wishing I was out on a bike, getting to do something…
As an organisation (or, at least, in my part of the organisation), we are very keen at helping out the local ambulance service. By this I mean we will send out crews on ambulances (and occasionally on bikes) to help the service respond to 999 calls. Understandably, this could only be done by experienced members, and one of the criteria for the ambulance work was a certain number of hours third crewing on those shifts. This means working with two experienced members to build up some experience dealing with patients potentially more serious than anything I’ve ever dealt with before, which I’m strongly in favour of. I don’t think I’d be happy going out on a shift without doing this first.
Unfortunately, since I qualified, it is no longer possible to third crew on any of our vehicles. Something to do with weight limits on the vehicles (which, given many of them are transit vans modified into ambulances, not necessarily their original design role). This is very frustrating for me, as it means I can’t gain the experience needed to do NHS support.
To make matters worse, there are very few of us in this position (probably about 3 or 4), and so nobody at county level cares enough to do something about it. As far as they’re concerned, there are enough people to cover the shifts, and so there isn’t a problem. This leaves me, and those few others, in a catch-22 situation: without having the needed experience, we aren’t able to gain the experience.
Needless to say, this is very frustrating.
A little while back, there was a possible solution. Our CRU lead sent us an email looking for interest in doing NHS cover on the bikes over Christmas. The roads get very busy in BigCity when everyone is doing their Christmas shopping, and the bikes can get around a lot easier than road ambulances. A load of us (apparently) applied, and it looked like it would go ahead. I even delayed heading home for Christmas around this. A couple of us entertained the thought that this might count towards us getting some experience towards the ambulance work.
Of cause, it never happened. And we only found that out for certain a couple of days before the period was due to end. The reasons given was lack of interest (yeah right), other duty commitments (*looks at depressingly empty duties book*) and lack of funding (*sigh*). Some of the more cynical amongst us suspect our useless County CRU lead is also to blame, but ho-hum.
All I’ve got to hope, in the nicest possible way to my patients, is that I get something interesting to do on the normal shift. Which, given my track record on a vehicle (nine or ten shifts, one patient transported for a minor injury) seems rather unlikely. The only time I might have had an interesting job, someone kicked me off my truck (story to follow).
I think, as far as possible, I’ll try to stick with the bikes. At least on them I get something to do (and some useful exercise), giving me some experience treating, even if it’s not transporting someone…
My friend and I are already planning what out of county events we want to do. Hopefully we’ll have a good yeah helping out our colleagues in the big city. At least there they know how well a bike unit can work…
- Ambulance Excitement (walkingplasterdispenser.wordpress.com)
It’s now confirmed. I am now an Assistant Leader down, and there is probably nothing I can do about it.
Of cause, he hasn’t actually had the courtesy to phone me, or email me, or otherwise get in touch, electronically or otherwise. Nope, I have found this out by him not turning up to the meeting today. Oh, and he’s updated his current location on Facebook to somewhere suitably distant from here.
Needless to say, I am furious. Not only did he put me in a position where, if I hadn’t heard rumours, I would have been an adult down on an already hard day, as well as nearly landing me without any session next week, I think it’s just downright rude. How difficult is it for him to send me some form of message, explaining that he couldn’t come down any more.
As an aside, this has probably ruined any chance of me getting a decent night’s sleep, which is just what I need when I have work tomorrow…
Housemate, here’s an interesting thought for you:
When you want to use my stuff, instead of spending ages asking me to wash it up, why don’t you just bloody do it yourself. It’s not exactly difficult!
Though, you could just spend some money and buy your own… You could replace the pint glass of mine you broke while you’re at it…