Blackburn ambulances 'not big yellow taxi service'

Blackburn Citizen: Telegraph reporter Jon Robinson with ambulance technician Pip Langhorn before his night shift Telegraph reporter Jon Robinson with ambulance technician Pip Langhorn before his night shift

EVERY day, just going to work can be a case of ‘life or death’ for Andy Gunn and his ambulance partner Jade Wiggans.

On a typical 12-hour night shift they deal with back-to-back jobs, each very different.

And as the first medical help on scene, they know how important their roles can be and the difference they make.

Former scuba diving instructor Andy said he ‘fell’ into the paramedic service ten years ago.

The 43-year-old dad-of-one from Blackburn used to travel the world plying his trade before returning to Blackburn between jobs.

However, only a few weeks after joining the service on a temporary basis, a tornado ripped through a holiday resort in Costa Rica, his next destination. So he decided to stay put in East Lancashire and has worked his way up through the paramedic grades since 2002.

Also on the ambulance is mum-of-one Jade, 34, who joined as an emergency medical technician in 2007 after training at UCLan. Jade, who lives in Burnley, intends to become a full paramedic.

After reporting for duty just before 7pm at Blackburn Ambulance Station, the crew was called out to a suspected stroke victim in Blackburn. The man, in his fifties, told Andy he had fainted and felt numbness in his arm and face.

He was taken straight to Royal Blackburn Hospital because of the potential severity of his condition.

The crew would not return to base for another four hours.

Andy said: “It’s normal to get called from job to job and it’s rare we make it back to the station without getting called out.

“On busy nights we can leave the station at the start of the shift and not return for five or six hours.”

The crew responded to nine emergencies during the shift, each costing on average £230 a call-out.

The next job was in Shear Brow where a child was reported to have chest pains. He appeared to not be in distress, was assessed and taken to hospital at his mum’s request to get fully checked. A trip, the crew told me, his parents could have done quicker in their own car, instead waiting almost an hour for the ambulance.

Andy said: “We seem to be seen as ‘the big yellow taxi service’ more and more these days, which takes us away from patients who actually need our help.

“A lot of the time people could have got themselves to hospital but they see us as the only way to get there. We are not here to act as an out-of-hours GP service, or a free way to get to hospital.

“We seem to be expected to be midwives, social workers and taxi drivers these days.”

After the crew had finally arrived back at the station, they received a ‘Red Two’ call, the second most urgent, after a middle-aged man in Haslingden Road, Blackburn, reported chest pains. A fast response vehicle was already on the scene with the senior paramedic assessing the patient who underwent an Electrocardiography (ECG) test.

The results were just low enough for him to be taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital instead of being transferred to the specialist heart unit in Blackpool.

After escorting a six-month-old boy from Burnley General to Royal Blackburn Hospital, the crew then attended a house in Wensley Fold.

The man, in his 40s, told Andy he had not been able to sleep properly for four days after overdosing on the pain killer Amitriptyline.

The paramedics discovered that it was beating at 180 beats per minute, much higher than usual. After the ECG in the ambulance he was taken to hospital for further tests.

Afterwards, Andy said it was most unusual not to be called out on a drink-related incident. He said: “More and more it tends to be drink related. We haven’t gone anywhere near Blackburn town centre tonight because more people are choosing to drink at home.

“This means there is less violence on the streets, but we are attending more jobs when people have got too drunk on their own at home.

“This seems to be a problem that East Lancashire seems to struggle with a lot. It’s cheaper to drink at home, that’s why people do it, but people seem to forget that it still seriously damages their health.”

Comments (13)

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2:32pm Mon 30 Dec 13

HarryBosch says...

I think there is a misconception that if you arrive at hospital in an ambulance, you will be seen quicker. If the hospital authorities dispelled that myth then that may solve one problem.
Everyone arriving at accident and emergency is subject to the triage system, however they get there.
I think there is a misconception that if you arrive at hospital in an ambulance, you will be seen quicker. If the hospital authorities dispelled that myth then that may solve one problem. Everyone arriving at accident and emergency is subject to the triage system, however they get there. HarryBosch

4:16pm Mon 30 Dec 13

3 for 10p says...

As long as it is free filth bags will use it.
The only option is to charge for the service
As long as it is free filth bags will use it. The only option is to charge for the service 3 for 10p

5:28pm Mon 30 Dec 13

woodyads says...

3 for 10p wrote:
As long as it is free filth bags will use it.
The only option is to charge for the service
I partly agree with this. I would only charge those who misuse the service however.
As someone who has had the misfortune to be taken away in an ambulance on a couple of occasions over the past few years - all genuine, I promise! - I'm grateful for the NHS, but it sickens me how I see drunks, druggies, yobs and losers abuse and drain this system of its resources, as highlighted in programmes such as 999: What's Your Emergency? etc.
[quote][p][bold]3 for 10p[/bold] wrote: As long as it is free filth bags will use it. The only option is to charge for the service[/p][/quote]I partly agree with this. I would only charge those who misuse the service however. As someone who has had the misfortune to be taken away in an ambulance on a couple of occasions over the past few years - all genuine, I promise! - I'm grateful for the NHS, but it sickens me how I see drunks, druggies, yobs and losers abuse and drain this system of its resources, as highlighted in programmes such as 999: What's Your Emergency? etc. woodyads

5:48pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Sajdin says...

As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!! Sajdin

7:14pm Mon 30 Dec 13

Jimmyyy says...

Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
Alcohol isn't illegal because it has already been tried once in America and it was an absolute failure. In the 1920's America witnessed the carnage caused by prohibition, it is just a shame that we haven't learnt from that lesson and still insist on trying, and failing, to prohibit other drugs.
[quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]Alcohol isn't illegal because it has already been tried once in America and it was an absolute failure. In the 1920's America witnessed the carnage caused by prohibition, it is just a shame that we haven't learnt from that lesson and still insist on trying, and failing, to prohibit other drugs. Jimmyyy

7:18pm Mon 30 Dec 13

You're not mugging me off that easily says...

Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
It's the one man crusade against alcohol !

Still spouting your utter nonsense I see?
[quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]It's the one man crusade against alcohol ! Still spouting your utter nonsense I see? You're not mugging me off that easily

8:19pm Mon 30 Dec 13

HarryBosch says...

Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse.
Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible.
[quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse. Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible. HarryBosch

12:16am Tue 31 Dec 13

Sajdin says...

You're not mugging me off that easily wrote:
Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
It's the one man crusade against alcohol !

Still spouting your utter nonsense I see?
Ah nice to hear from you, you seem to go awfully quite on the other articles? You going to turn to verbal abuse again like a little child?
[quote][p][bold]You're not mugging me off that easily[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]It's the one man crusade against alcohol ! Still spouting your utter nonsense I see?[/p][/quote]Ah nice to hear from you, you seem to go awfully quite on the other articles? You going to turn to verbal abuse again like a little child? Sajdin

12:17am Tue 31 Dec 13

Sajdin says...

HarryBosch wrote:
Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse.
Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible.
Indeed I am flogging a dead horse, I do not think education is the way, more severe punishment for those who put a burden on society is the way forward.
[quote][p][bold]HarryBosch[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse. Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible.[/p][/quote]Indeed I am flogging a dead horse, I do not think education is the way, more severe punishment for those who put a burden on society is the way forward. Sajdin

12:23am Tue 31 Dec 13

woolywords says...

888888 wrote:
It's not a free taxi service you ****.
I seriously doubt that it is a taxi service, as you have to wait nearly an hour, then they charge over two hundred quid to go from one side of town to the other.
Phone for an ambulance?...over my dead body, you will.
[quote][p][bold]888888[/bold] wrote: It's not a free taxi service you ****.[/p][/quote]I seriously doubt that it is a taxi service, as you have to wait nearly an hour, then they charge over two hundred quid to go from one side of town to the other. Phone for an ambulance?...over my dead body, you will. woolywords

6:25am Tue 31 Dec 13

Primus622 says...

What's new...I was a paramedic for 30 years and this has always been how it was......not much chance of educating people now.
What's new...I was a paramedic for 30 years and this has always been how it was......not much chance of educating people now. Primus622

9:38am Tue 31 Dec 13

greenscreener says...

Sajdin wrote:
HarryBosch wrote:
Sajdin wrote:
As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!!
Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse.
Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible.
Indeed I am flogging a dead horse, I do not think education is the way, more severe punishment for those who put a burden on society is the way forward.
Putting a burden on society can mean many things, would you also punish those who choose to have more children than they can afford, those who through poor diet choices are obese, sick, cannot work ? Where do you draw the line ?

Putting a burden on society would effectively encompass all who do not pay enough direct and indirect tax in this country to cover the services they consume and the benefits they, and their dependants, receive.
[quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]HarryBosch[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Sajdin[/bold] wrote: As highlighted, drunks take away time from the Ambulance service, as we see drugs banned, why isn't alcohol, it has the same if not more of an affect from drugs!![/p][/quote]Because, Sir, alcohol is just too big a part of British society. It is a huge industry providing thousands of jobs and it provides the government with millions, if not billions in tax revenue. There just is no going back now. I know you like to keep having a try and I respect your right to free speech, but I'm afraid you're flogging a dead horse. Better to educate drinkers to be more responsible.[/p][/quote]Indeed I am flogging a dead horse, I do not think education is the way, more severe punishment for those who put a burden on society is the way forward.[/p][/quote]Putting a burden on society can mean many things, would you also punish those who choose to have more children than they can afford, those who through poor diet choices are obese, sick, cannot work ? Where do you draw the line ? Putting a burden on society would effectively encompass all who do not pay enough direct and indirect tax in this country to cover the services they consume and the benefits they, and their dependants, receive. greenscreener

7:26pm Thu 2 Jan 14

Legal Beagle says...

Yet again alcohol's to blame. It's about time the government stopped ****-footing around and imposed heavy taxes on booze sold by retail stores. They should also ban discounting of alcohol. This would level the playing field and make it easier for pubs to survive, as well as helping to prevent the sort of lowlife mentioned in this article from getting drunk off super strength lager sold for a pittance.
Yet again alcohol's to blame. It's about time the government stopped ****-footing around and imposed heavy taxes on booze sold by retail stores. They should also ban discounting of alcohol. This would level the playing field and make it easier for pubs to survive, as well as helping to prevent the sort of lowlife mentioned in this article from getting drunk off super strength lager sold for a pittance. Legal Beagle

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