Health & Safety Update
Bases, Response Posts and DAP’s
Over the past few months we have seen an increase in staff of varying skill levels and clinical grades. Some have transferred in from other ambulance services while others have been external recruits or internal career developers. At the same time the service has continued to experience high call volumes and the added pressures that this brings. With the increase in staff and the influx of new ambulances the picture is beginning to look better, but the size of our region and the needs of the public remain the same. With all this in mind I take this opportunity to highlight a few areas and remind staff about what should be in place.
All members of staff should be in possession of a full uniform and this includes epaulettes showing their clinical grades. Operational members of staff are entitled to have 2 pairs of footwear provided and this allows for them to naturally dry out in between shifts. They should also be provided with a full set of PPE relevant to their operational role.
The maintenance and upkeep of all Trusts buildings falls within the remit of the Estates department and ANY member of staff that becomes aware of damage, faults or maintenance issues can send an email to the estates department responsible for that building. This ensures a swifter response and gets repairs carried out sooner rather than later.
All members of staff are required to undergo training in any new process or with any new equipment that they have not previously been trained on. This is to ensure that everyone is able to safely use the equipment, protects your crew partners, patients and the general public. If, during the course of your duty, you become aware of faulty or defective equipment, are injured by equipment or are involved in an adverse incident, you should raise a DATIX report either on the intranet or by calling the single Point Of Contact (SPOC). The Datix system is the method used by the Trust for auditing incidents and if the Datix is not raised the data becomes incomplete and potentially unreliable.
Speaking with members of the general public, we often become aware that they believe an ambulance is hiding just around the corner, or is back at the Town Ambulance Station, or that it is outside one of the many hospitals within our region. They are not always aware that we have developed a network of stand by facilities which allow us to pre-position Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV’s) or ambulances in areas where we would otherwise have difficulty in reaching patients without lengthy travel distances or journey times. So let’s take a look at our facilities in time honoured fashion, which is in reverse order.
There is no agreement for mandatory roaming stand-by’s, crews can be asked but may decline if they wish.
Dynamic Activation Posts (DAP’s): These stand-by locations are often located at commercial properties that allow us access to their toilets and also have access to tea / coffee. Apart from having somewhere to park the vehicle with adequate lighting and somewhere that is safe, there are no other requirements of a DAP. The maximum agreed time for a crew to be assigned to a DAP is 45 minutes. If the crew are assigned to a call their next stand-by should be at a Response Post or base station, even if they are stood down from the call. If after 45 minutes at a DAP they have not had a call, they should be moved to a Response Post or Base Station. The deployment of a crew to a DAP also depends upon the opening times of the DAP. If a DAP is only open from 0700 to 2300 hours then crews should not be sent to arrive there outside of these times because the facilities are not available. Crews are not to be sent to a DAP in the last 30 minutes of their shift. The Dynamic Deployment Policy lists the facilities which should be there.
Response Posts: These posts are normally available 24/7, but if there are restrictions or constraints due to access or availability, then they can only be used during agreed times. There are no time limits on how long a crew can be left at a response post. The Response Posts have better facilities than a DAP and these dedicated parking, good access and egress, crew room to accommodate 4 staff ( two upright chairs and two comfortable chairs), toilet facilities, kitchen and dining area with table and chairs for meal. There should also be a Television, music radio, 4-slice toaster, microwave oven and adequate numbers of crockery and cutlery. The level of comfort at Response Posts enables crews to be sent there for their meal breaks and for longer periods of stand-by cover. There should be a copy of the Response Post criteria and facilities list at each location. The list is Appendix 1 of the Dynamic Deployment Policy.
Base Station and Depots: These are the specified workplaces of our staff; they may be a small rural station with a single vehicle or anything up to a large depot with 20 or more vehicles. Whatever the size, the base station or depot is where you are administered from and where your mail is sent. Members of staff that are on a permanent line position would normally start and finish all their shifts at these locations and are entitled to a minimum of 11 hours off duty in between each shift.
While County Relief or Support Staff are administered from these locations, their shifts may be at a variety of different bases within their area NSC crews are entitled to a minimum of 10 ½ hours at home in between each shift. The rationale behind this difference is that County Relief / Support Staff may be working from different bases every day (or night) and the only fixed non-variable factor is where they live. As a result, they are entitled to reasonable travel time to and from work with the 10 ½ hours at home. For example, if they travel 1 hour from home to station “A” for a 12 shift start of 0700 hours but do not finish until 2030 hours, they will most likely not get home until 2130 hours. Allowing for their 10 ½ hours at home, they would not be expected to set off to their next workplace until 0800 hours at the earliest. This would mean that if the next workplace was 1 hour travel time away they would not be starting their next shift until 0900 hours.
Staff should always bear in mind that travel time varies with the time of year due to the winter weather conditions and whether they encounter high density traffic such as peak traffic times. The safety advice would be “Better to arrive safely in this world rather than early in the next one”.
Members of staff are often recruited under different contracts and there may be variations about how they are deployed in different parts of the region. It is essential therefore that all staff have access to a copy of their contract and also their deployment conditions for referencing to when issues or concerns arise.
The required facilities at all Base stations, Depots and Reporting Posts are the same. There must be changing rooms giving access to showers and toilet facilities without having to use a communal corridor, lockers to keep personal items safe, somewhere to hang wet clothing to dry and air while on duty, as well as somewhere to keep Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when not in use. There must also be a secure storage facility for the clinical and controlled drugs. There must be a system for mail to be delivered (such as pigeon holes)a kitchen for food and drinks to be prepared plus tables and chairs for staff to sit at when eating their meals, a rest area with comfortable seating plus access to computers so that Trust emails can be viewed.
So there we have it, a brief but compact explanation of what should be in place for all staff wherever they are based, whether they are on a Permanent Line or are County Relief / Support Staff.
Branch Health & Safety Officer
East of England Ambulance Unison 20106