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AMA

I am a paramedic on strike today. AMA

238 replies

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 16:29

Hi from the freezing cold picket line. Any questions related to the strike, the current state of the NHS or general paramedicing feel free to ask.

Disclaimer: obviously answers are based on my own opinions and experiences. They may not be the same for other paramedics/EMTs or in other trusts.

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tinytemper66 · 23/01/2023 20:42

Do you support the upcoming strikes by teachers next week? (In Wales)

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clopper · 23/01/2023 20:45

OP it's not that I don't support you, but I don't think £40k per month is a low wage. Given the state of the economy and demands for double digit % pay rises across the health service and education, where do you think the money should come from to fund all these increases? Higher taxes?

this^. Many people don’t earn half of this.

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rainbowruthie · 23/01/2023 20:52

No questions - just adding my total support to you and your colleagues

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faffadoodledo · 23/01/2023 20:54

Never met a paramedic who wasn't unfailingly professional and caring and expert in what s/he does.

Unlike some other HPs sadly.

Yep, paramedics rock imo

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faffadoodledo · 23/01/2023 20:55

HCPs rather

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 20:56

tinytemper66 · 23/01/2023 20:42

Do you support the upcoming strikes by teachers next week? (In Wales)

Yes. As a member of a trade union I support every union's right to strike. Even tube drivers.

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 20:59

clopper · 23/01/2023 20:45

OP it's not that I don't support you, but I don't think £40k per month is a low wage. Given the state of the economy and demands for double digit % pay rises across the health service and education, where do you think the money should come from to fund all these increases? Higher taxes?

this^. Many people don’t earn half of this.

Everyone should earn what they are worth and have yearly pay rises in line with inflation. Everyone should be able join a union to negotiate pay and conditions.
Everyone should benefit from the government's plans for the economy, not just the rich.

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4thonthe4th · 23/01/2023 21:01

faffadoodledo · 23/01/2023 20:54

Never met a paramedic who wasn't unfailingly professional and caring and expert in what s/he does.

Unlike some other HPs sadly.

Yep, paramedics rock imo

Don’t ever make the mistake of wondering into EMAS territory then!

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tinytemper66 · 23/01/2023 21:04

A thanks Paramediconsrrike Grin

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 21:07

tinytemper66 · 23/01/2023 21:04

A thanks Paramediconsrrike Grin

You're welcome- I hope ot helps and that it's warmer than today has been!

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TheChosenTwo · 23/01/2023 21:07

From a Unison employee I’d just like to say a huge thank you, I’m really proud of you and all your colleagues today for standing in solidarity together today 💐
I hope you had a good overall response and a lot of support, many of us owe our lives and those of our loved ones to you and your fellow ambulance workers, I know I certainly do.

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CriticalAlert · 23/01/2023 21:14

Just sending you my heartfelt support. You're a great bunch and I know you're not doing this light-heartedly. The Tories want to get rid of the NHS, don't let them!

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RosesAndHellebores · 23/01/2023 21:41

Do you not think that striking in the NHS and teaching has more to do with a brainwashed socialist ideology than standards of care for patients or children?

Surely if you can afford to give up several days of pay, it indicates that you aren't paid too little and that striking is an ideological luxury.

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 21:48

RosesAndHellebores · 23/01/2023 21:41

Do you not think that striking in the NHS and teaching has more to do with a brainwashed socialist ideology than standards of care for patients or children?

Surely if you can afford to give up several days of pay, it indicates that you aren't paid too little and that striking is an ideological luxury.

No, I don't. I believe that it has everything to do with ordinary people taking a stand about what they think is right. I certainly don't think I've been brainwashed and I am not a socialist. Not that there is anything wrong with being a socialist mind, it's just not where my politics lie.

I can't afford to lose "several days pay". As I stated upthread, I will do an overtime shift to make up for it. Luckily there is one available, otherwise I'd have to make some cutbacks. Also luckily for me, this is the only strike day that I've been scheduled to work, I wasn't on duty for the previous two.

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Reinventinganna · 23/01/2023 21:50

I joined the nursing strikes last week and we had amazing support from the public.

My question is did you wrap up warm enough?!
I didn’t on the first day!

Good luck to you all, I hope that you are heard.

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EricNorthmanYesPlease · 23/01/2023 21:51

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 17:41

Lots of reasons:
It's very difficult to triage over the phone, even for a clinician. The call handlers have to follow an algorithm which directs which questions they ask and leads to the categorisation of the call. Some people are called back and reassessed by a paramedic or doctor over the phone, but this isn't appropriate in calls that may be time critical such as chest pain.

The caller may be panicked, there may be a language barrier or, yes some over exaggeration (although I don't think that's common)

And sometimes, it's a case of "ok, you don't really NEED an ambulance, but now that we know about you, its safer to send one than not"

The call handlers are very highly trained. The public could possibly do with a bit more education though.

I do think the call handlers need better systems. My DD 1 was in an awful way through the night once and they asked me if her speech was affected!? I repeated the fact she was 1and didnt talk. They asked me to try and get her to say something. I repeated again that she didnt yet speak.
She then asked if she could put her head on her chest, which she couldnt without screaming. It took 7 hours for a call back. at which point we'd had to go to a and e.
Is there no way that paramedics and ambulance staff could do some of the call backs whilst sitting outside the hospital just to clear the system a bit?

You sound like a decent person, but our local trust is striking and a local man rang for an ambulance after suffering a double lower leg break. Breaks aren't cat1 so they left him 48 hours before picking him up as they wouldnt leave the picket line. His family were told under no circumstances were they to move him and bring him in themselves as it was a dangerous break.
Can you see why some of the public have little to no sympathy for these strikes?

I do appreciate that a lot of 999 calls are time wasting, but just because something isnt a cat1 shouldn't mean they cant get help if its serious

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 21:55

Reinventinganna · 23/01/2023 21:50

I joined the nursing strikes last week and we had amazing support from the public.

My question is did you wrap up warm enough?!
I didn’t on the first day!

Good luck to you all, I hope that you are heard.

I did, luckily DP actually read the weather forecast and packed me a back with hats, scarves ans blankets to hand out (and wear!). Otherwise I'd just be standing here in my normal uniform like an idiot.

I hope you are too 🤞

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 22:11

EricNorthmanYesPlease · 23/01/2023 21:51

I do think the call handlers need better systems. My DD 1 was in an awful way through the night once and they asked me if her speech was affected!? I repeated the fact she was 1and didnt talk. They asked me to try and get her to say something. I repeated again that she didnt yet speak.
She then asked if she could put her head on her chest, which she couldnt without screaming. It took 7 hours for a call back. at which point we'd had to go to a and e.
Is there no way that paramedics and ambulance staff could do some of the call backs whilst sitting outside the hospital just to clear the system a bit?

You sound like a decent person, but our local trust is striking and a local man rang for an ambulance after suffering a double lower leg break. Breaks aren't cat1 so they left him 48 hours before picking him up as they wouldnt leave the picket line. His family were told under no circumstances were they to move him and bring him in themselves as it was a dangerous break.
Can you see why some of the public have little to no sympathy for these strikes?

I do appreciate that a lot of 999 calls are time wasting, but just because something isnt a cat1 shouldn't mean they cant get help if its serious

Ad I've said, I'm not a call handler so I'm not 100% sure how the system works at their end- most of my info is second hand- but it sounds like they didn't identify your DD as a child on the system.

Paramedics do do callbacks, but they are working in the control room. I'm not sure how many are there at any given time, but its not enough to call everyone back. The idea of doing phone triage while waiting is interesting but I don't think it would work for the following reasons:

  1. Paramedics who are going to the control room are given training in phone triage. It is surprisingly hard to do! So anyone who hasn't done a secondment in control wouldn't be qualified to do it.
  2. They would need a service computer with them.
  3. We would not be using a secure line and could be interrupted at any time, compromising patient confidentiality. The call would also not be able to be recorded which it is important to do for lots of reasons.
  4. Most Importantly- if we're waiting outside hospital we have our own patient to monitor and care for!


I can't properly comment on the call you mention, but on the face of it something has gone wrong there. A serious break counts as limb threatening and is something we (my direct colleagues) would definitely leave the picket line for. Possibly something went wrong with communication- although each strike has only lasted 12 hours and not every staff member is elligible or willimg to strike, so I'm not sure why he'd have been left for 48 hours- you may want to fact check the story there.

We are also not only responding to cat1 calls, we are responding to any call that has life ot limb implications. For example, cardiac chest pain is a cat2 and would definitely qualify for a request to leave the picket line.
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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 22:14

Sorry for typos, my fingers are numb from the cold. 45mins left of the strike to go.

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ChungusBoi · 23/01/2023 22:53

Hope you’re home soon and can wrap your cold fingers around a hot chocolate

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fivetriangulartrees · 23/01/2023 22:56

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 18:59

We don't have epipens as that is the word for the automated injection cartridge that people with allergies carry with them and can be used effectively by any bystander. Wonderful things.

We carry vials of adrenaline which we draw up and use in case of anaphylaxis. We also have hydrocortisone and intravenous chlorphenamine (piriton). So yes, if your son has an allergic reaction absolutely don't hesitate to call.

Thank you, this is helpful to know. And wishing you well with the strikes.

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 22:59

ChungusBoi · 23/01/2023 22:53

Hope you’re home soon and can wrap your cold fingers around a hot chocolate

Will be heading home in about 5 mins for a glass of wine in bed!

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ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 23:01

fivetriangulartrees · 23/01/2023 22:56

Thank you, this is helpful to know. And wishing you well with the strikes.

Thank you, and I wish you well with the allergies. Very scary to have, and I hope your little one just grows out of it ❤

But if not, we are always here for you. Just hit the 9s and we'll be with you ASAP.

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Cantseethewindows · 23/01/2023 23:20

Thank you OP! Every single crew we've had in (the vast majority called for us by 111 and IMHO not always strictly necessary) have been absolutely wonderful!!! Sympathetic, thorough and so patient! Special shout out to the crew that stopped to help (whilst urgently transporting a patient to hospital) when they saw my little DS's bloodied face after he'd tipped his pushchair over and faceplanted the pavement at the height of COVID!

What can the public do to help? Now, with the strikes, but also in general?

Greetings from a teacher, our turn next week. Hope it's not as cold then!

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Destiny123 · 24/01/2023 09:20

ParamedicOnStrike · 23/01/2023 19:55

It's been designed and redesigned and redesigned again to be as risk averse as possible. @whatyoulookingfor will correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm fairly sure the only way a call handler can over-ride the system is to pass the call on to a clinician, which is how the 111 system works. And- this will shock you- there aren't enough clinicians in the control room to look at all the calls.

Yep it's v hard to override the algorithm on the few times I've rang 999 as a Dr

1 - my nan blacked out broke her foot dislocated her shoulder and cos we'd walked to town I had no means of getting her to hosp. I started the call with I'm a Dr blah de dah. Was followed by "is she breathing?" "Does she have a pulse?" Despite my constant reassurance id probably mentioned that earlier if true

2 - so annoyed at. For some reason they put out a crash call at work to the carpark, which isn't policy. Woman was having an acute stroke n we wanted to thrombolyse her. Repeatedly said I'm in the carpark please just ask someone to come move her. She gives me a 4h window. Told her that's not appropriate and can I talk to someone senior. She replies "well what do you know anyway you're only a nurse"....erm just cos I'm female doesn't make me a nurse and I've already told u I'm not. Eventually wanted round and stole myself a trolley and had great fun pushing it across the most pot hole filled gravel carpark ever grrr

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