Post Bag – February 2016

The anticipated blizzards did not materialise but strong winds still managed to cause damage across the region. With more strong winds expected it is an opportune moment to remind ourselves about wind shear and air compression. Gusting winds have a nasty habit of hitting the sides of “slab sided” vehicles with devastating  effect, often rolling the vehicle onto its side or causing the driver to compensate at the very moment that the wind drops, causing an uncontested response by the vehicle.

Ensuring that the vehicle is in roadworthy condition at the start of the shift gives the driver the upper hand, and this means ensuring that the tyres are of the correct pressure, there is sufficient tread depth to clear rainwater away and grip the road surface, the wheel nuts are correctly tightened and if tell-tale markers are fitted that they all face the right direction.  

  The VDI is a crucial part of the shift and without going into what the VDI contains, sufficient to say that visually the vehicle should look right; no exterior damage, not leaning to one side or down on one side due to faulty suspension and no sign of any fluid leaks underneath. Once the VDI has been completed there is still the Pre Driving Checks and if you were the last person to drive the vehicle yesterday or last night and it has not been driven since, then the PDC can be shortened to checking the handbrake, neutral gear position and seat belt / door checks and that when the engine is started all the instruments and warnings behave as expected. If you were the last to drive it, the seat position, steering wheel adjustment and mirrors should be as you left them.

To ensure an audit trail can be established in the case of vehicular failure, the VDI checklist should be completed and retained locally. Different bases and depot might develop their own system of storing the completed VDI forms, but for any system to work, it relies upon the VDI checklist being used and completed.

The annual election of workplace representatives has resulted in several new stewards and safety representatives being elected, as well as existing ones being re-elected and we wish them all every success in their new ventures.  If you are not yet able to commit to becoming a Unison rep but would like to assist, you could offer to become a workplace contact.  Without having to commit to any union activity you could be the person at your base station to whom notices and posters etc are sent so that your colleagues can be kept up to date.  Interested? Contact a Unison representative for more information.

 CHAIRGATEThe long standing issue about seating at the Lowestoft (North) response postshould finally reach closure now that the replacement armchairs have been ordered.  The chairs which were selected were viewed on line by some members of staff and they agreed with management and Unison that they appear to meet the IPC requirements as well as providing comfortable seating for staff sent there on standby. 

 Bearing in mind the current climate with regard to personal safety and security we are reminding all staff about the need to be vigilant at all times. If someone you do not know or recognise requires access to your place of work, ask them for some form of identification before allowing them to enter the building or providing them with any information about personnel within the building.  Any visitor with a genuine reason for gaining access should not feel offended. Remember to close windows and doors when you leave buildings. 

The emergency ambulance stretchers are provided with 4-point shoulder harnesses which should be used in conjunction with the other straps when conveying patients. This is to ensure the patient is safely secured to the trolley in the event of sudden braking or manoeuvring. Members of staff are reminded that the harnesses form part of the stretcher safety equipment and if the harnesses are not present when you carry out the VDI your supervisor or manager should be informed so that replacements can be sourced.

 Ensuring that ambulance crews are stood down for their meal break is a high priority and providing facilities at which crews can be sent to for their meals, goes hand in hand. However, it is acknowledged that some crews prefer to obtain a fresh or hot meal on the way to their meal break facility. We are currently working with management to reach a resolution that is acceptable to road staff and EOC without extending the out of service (OOS) period excessively.  

 Fire Safety survey will soon be available which will invite your input regarding the fire safety at your workplace.  

A survey inviting your feedback about the Ferno Track2 Carry Chair will follow on after the Fire Safety survey.


Jeff Pittman

9 February 2016