I know that first and foremost, I'm a software engineer. It's something that I'm good at, and that I do on a day-to-day basis. But I'm also an Emergency Transport Attendant (ETA) with St John Ambulance. That is something I don't do on a day-to-day basis, but which I do as a hobby. Consequently, it's something that I work incredibly hard to keep my skills up to date, and my knowledge moving forwards. I take this role seriously. And I work hard to ensure that I'm good at what I do.
That is why it annoys me whenever I hear of tales of others in the organisation who are clearly not up to scratch, and who show us up. We want to be taken seriously as a professional organisation, but we can not be taken as such if we're being let down by others.
Take for example, the following situation:
30 year old female, early stages of pregnancy, suffering contraction-like severe abdo pain which are getting worse, with PV bleeding. This patient was transported to hospital, but not with the same sense of urgency or severity that it should have attracted:
- Taken in under normal road conditions (20-25 minutes through heavy traffic)
- No pain relief given, despite the pain getting worse
- Obs taken before transport was pulse, resps, BP and GCS. One set taken in transport, consisting of only a pulse. Yes, one set during the entire 25 minute run
When myself and a couple of other ETAs found out, we were shocked and appalled. There is the time and the place for going slow with jobs, but this was not one of those circumstances. And our ETA training teaches us to consider carefully what is best - to scoop and run, or to wait for a Paramedic. It often depends on how close we are to A&E, and how close the nearest Para is. In this case, A&E would have been obtainable in less than 6 minutes.
Unfortunately, cases like this do a great deal of damage to our reputation. So why have I spoken publicly about it? Mainly because this sort of thing winds me up so much, and because I feel that if just one person can take this tale and use it to help somebody else not make the mistake again, it will have been to our benefit.
There has been active drives within the organisation to improve the quality of our members, and this needs to keep happening. We have to do this, if we are to be taken seriously by others, and to stop the more offensive and derogatory comments being levelled as us.