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£ate Finish and Rest Periodz

This saga keeps raising its ugly head like an agitated serpent almost as often as the tides rises and falls... and if I have offended any serpents or tidal experts I apologise...


There are two (2) specific and important areas here.


Firstly, any employee who undertakes any form of work for the employer must receive payment.


Secondly, employees are entitled to 11 hours off between duty periods if on a fixed line position or, if they are on a relief / county support contract, they are entitled to (a) reasonable travel time to and from the place at which they worked or will be working next and (b) 10 1/2 hours at home.


Let us consider point 1 first: If you and I are crewed together on a 0700 to 1900 shift but finish at 2200 hours, we have worked 3 hours past our contracted time so we are entitled

East of England Ambulance Service

DSA Survey Monkey - Conclusion

A total of 576 members of staff responded to the DSA survey monkey which ran for two months in early 2015. Some answers were anticipated and some were not, but there were some which give cause for concern. Of the 576 members that took part 89 (15.45%)  were ECA’s,  100 (17.36%) were Student Paramedics, 108  (18.75%) were Emergency Medical Technicians and 279 (48.44%) were Paramedics


(A conversation between two old chestnuts)

”Are we going to get our meal break at the time that we are given at the start of our shift, Fred?”

“Well, George” he replied, “It all depends upon what we are actually doing at the time when our meal break is due to start.”  Fred had read the ESOP 25, the new document that explains what actions are to be taken in EOC / HEOC with regard to allocating calls to crews. 

“What is ESOP 25?” enquired George. “Aah, you might well ask” Fred responded, relishing the idea that for once he was in a position to pass on some useful information to his new crew partner. 

“When we come clear from the call which took us past ourallocated meal break start time, we are to be sent to the nearest agreed facility within our own EOC area and are not to be allocated any further calls until after we have completed our meal break.”

George thought about this for a few minutes, mulling over the possible scenarios that might delay having his chip-butties on time. “What if we are tasked to take a patient from the hospital A&E department to the Burns Unit  and our meal break starts while we are still travelling there?” he asked Fred.

“That’s straight forward, George.  If we are carrying out an inter- hospital transfer and go past the start of our meal break en route; after handing over our patient and greening up at the burns hospital, we will not be assigned to any further calls, but will be sent to the nearest agreed facility within our own EOC area and stood down there for our meal break.”

“But what if we take our patient to the nearest A&E department and while we are in the hospital, our meal break comes and goes?” pushed George. “You know what I am like if I get hungry”. Fred smiled “That’s okay too George.  If weattend to a patient and convey the patient to hospital and subsequently go past the start of our meal break, then we will be sent to the nearest agreed facility within our own EOC area after handing over our patient and greening up at the receiving hospital.”

Fred could see that George was still not convinced that a robust system was in place that would ensure his chip-butty-buddy got his fatty-fries at a reasonable time during their shift.

“Look at it this way, George” said Fred, tempting his mate to take a more active role in the discussion; “What do you think will happen if we are sent to a patient in the Town Centre and it is a minor injury that does not need attendance at hospital?”  “Well” said George,” I presume that if we are dealing with a patient but do not convey the patient to hospital, but go past the start of our meal break while we are dealing with the patient….  our Control Centre will send us to the nearest agreed facility after completing all documentation and greening up on scene.” “Spot on” roared Fred, pleased that his crew mate was slowly getting his head around ESOP 25.

“But Fred” quipped George, his mind now in overdrive and trawling his grey matter for a scenario that ESOP 25 did not cover. “What if we are on our way to a stand by point and a 999 call comes into control 5 minutes before our meal break is due to start, and we are the nearest resource?” “That’s dead easy” smiled Fred. “ If, prior to our allocated meal break start time, we are allocated to an emergency call, which ultimately takes us past our meal break start time, we must take the call”.

Fred could see that his crew mate was really digging deep into his brain box. “But what happens, Fred, if we are given a job before the start of our allocated meal break time, set off in the direction of that patient, go past what would have been my fatty-butty time and then get stood down from that call in the middle of nowhere….” Challenges George. (“Yeah, and not a chippy for miles” thought Fred.

“Well in that case” explained Fred, ”If prior to reaching our allocated meal break start time, we are allocated to an emergency call which takes us past the start of our meal break start time and we then come clear from THAT call, we cannot be given any further calls and must be sent to the nearest agreed facility within our own EOC area for our meal break.

“But can our control centre take us off that original call” asked George “and just drop another call of equal or higher acuity on us, because we are no longer on a call and are the nearest resource?”  Fred sat back and sighed. “You really have NOT read ESOP 25 have you, George?” he teased.  “Once we are past our meal break time and we come clear from the call that took us past our meal break start time, it is chip-butties and egg-banjo time”. He could see that the penny was slowly dropping and the curtains were raising a hope of understanding. “Mind you” added Fred “while we are still making our way to the patient, and we have gone past our meal break start time, our control Centre can contact and ASKif we would be prepared to accept a further call of a higher nature, even though we would be pushing our butties further away…..  we can accept the newer call or we can decline it and remain in the original call. No pressure. It’s all there in ESOP 25”.

“Well it sounds like a good system, Fred, but does it work the same when we are due to finish our shift?” asked George. “Yes mate. If we are on the way to a patient, but before we reach the location we go beyond the end of our shift, our control Centre have a higher acuity call come in and we are the nearest resource” explained Fred “they can contact us to ASK if we would be prepared to accept the newer call even though it would make us late off work. We can accept or decline the call. If we decline the call then we carry on with the job in hand”….

“Where my copy of ESOP 25?” asked George.

Swinging the Lantern

“We’ve never had it so good,” remarked Thelma, pressing the command button. “No more stooping or struggling with awkward or heavy patients thanks to these ‘ere air bags. “Too right” replied Louise as she gently applied support to the elderly gent’s shoulders while the Mangar smoothly lifted him off the ground to a height where he could step forward and make his own way to his armchair. Louise had been her regular crew partner for more than 15 years and both had experienced the stresses and the pain that resulted from physically shifting or lifting patients, often by grasping the waistband of the clothing or the trouser belt. “Same with the handling belt” remarked Thelma, “it’s so much easier for us when assisting a patient of providing that little bit of reassurance while they walk across the room”.

There had been a lot of changes since Marty had mysteriously left the depot garage after his day shift on 21 October. Rumour had it that he was depressed; some thought he had injured his back once too often shifting patients, but inwardly Thelma and Louise had this feeling that Marty was on a sabbatical, doing research into the prevention of musculoskeletal injuries and how the ambulance service could prevent lower back disorders being the main cause for early retirement amongst otherwise fit individuals.

“The smell of the grease paint and the roar of the crowd, that’s what life is all about” commented Pete, recalling his days in the circus. “We used to take risks, but they were calculated, we knew what we were doing, we’d practiced time and time again, till we got it right”. His crew partner Anthony, wasn’t the same outwardly type of character as Pete. He had watched and noted how his partner appeared slick, sometimes mystical in the way he pulled off certain manoeuvers or techniques, but inwardly he was dreading the day it might all go Pete Tong. The guys over in procurement had secured a supply of “widgets” to make it safer when breaking off the top of ampoules, but Anthony had seen Pete showboating too many times by holding the small glass bottle in one hand and cracking the top off with his thumb. “I hate it when you do that” he remarked “Even though it takes my breath away, I’d rather you use the widget”.

Seeing a clown dangling from a truck with his braces snagged on the door handle, reminded Chrissy how close his crew partner Graham had come recently when they responded to a call in an unlit part of the county. “This is madness” remarked Graham as he opened the nearside crew-cab door intending to step out and walk towards the dark garden. Instead, he lost his balance and fell forwards still grasping the door handle with his right hand which resulted in him twisting around and landing on the muddy ground on his back. “This Suggs !” he hollered; “Why can’t they put the street lights back on so I can see where I am going?” Trying to stifle his desire to laugh out loud, Chrissy came around the front of the ambulance and offered his hand to Graham who was wet, muddy and far from impressed. “They keep telling us to exit the vehicle backwards, Graham” he said. “Maybe if you had you wouldn’t be in such a mess now.”

Bill was fairly wide of girth compared with his crew partner Ben, and this was why they were always arguing about which one would survive the longest if they fell overboard and ended up in the North Sea on a winters night. This was rather a futile discussion considering neither had any intentions to go cruising or joining what Bill referred to as the gin Palace Brigade. Aside from the perils of the deep, they would also discuss the hazards associated with patient’s houses and how Ben might not notice the odd vase or planter on the stairway. Bill had become quite tactful in the way he related his concerns to patients and their family members, when asking them if they minded while he moved them out of harm’s way. Neither of them had encounter a Monet hanging on the wall or a Greek Urn on the stairway, but as Ben always reminded Bill, “It’s not the financial value I am worried about, it’s the sentimental value if it gets broken” to which bill invariable replied “Yes, and the increased risk of snagging the carry chair on it or worse still if we trip over the Greek urn”.

Thelma and Louise continued to use the handling aids but misjudged a bend and drove off a cliff

Marty met up with his mate Emmet and designed equipment to reduce accidents in the future

Anthony failed to shut the ambulance door fully and was ejected during a high speed run

Pete toed the line with regard to safety and became an instructor at the ambulance training school

Bill and Ben took early retirement and secured employment with Pickford’s removals. Neither have yet encountered an unknown Picasso or Monet.

Graham and Chrissy have got their act together and still refer to the past as Madness

Marty returned to front line duty but has never driven faster than 88 miles per hour, especially if it’s raining and there is a risk of thunder or a lightning strike.

“What’s a Greek Urn?” asked Bill one day; “About two drachmas a day, retorted Ben”.


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