(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.