Author of Can You Hear Me? A Paramedics Encounters With Life And Death and NHS paramedic, Jake Jones, has written an honest and frank account of what paramedics around the UK are facing on the frontline of the COVID19 outbreak in an article for the Guardian.
Jones describes the current situation for frontline paramedics:
Rest assured, your ambulance crew is not sitting watching reruns of Homes under the Hammer while your relative waits in pain. Most likely they went out on a job within minutes of their shift starting, and they won’t get back until 12 hours later. Whenever they deliver a patient to hospital or discharge them at home, there will be another job waiting. Calls to ambulance services have risen by an average of 5.2% each year since 2011. The flow never stops.
In response to this, Jones calls for the reorganisation of the 999 call triage system to alleviate time for emergency calls in these unprecedented times, stating:
Nine out of 10 ambulance calls aren’t real emergencies
He explains that the current system has many challenges:
Time constraints, panicked callers, misunderstandings, language barriers, and the fact the call-taker can’t see the patient.
One idea out of many that Jones proposes includes:
One way of improving the system would be to audit telephone interactions against on-scene assessments and patients’ final diagnoses, to improve the accuracy and sensitivity of the initial triage algorithm. Initiatives such as the National Ambulance Data Set should facilitate such modification.
Jones concludes by stating:
No one would ask a humble paramedic how to improve ambulance response, but perhaps listening to those on the ground would help make changes that just might save lives.
If you would like to read more about Jake Jones’s experience as a NHS paramedic then you can order your own copy of Can You Hear Me? here.