How We Work
A 999 call is made:
The caller is connected to the telephone company operator who will ask them which emergency service they require. If the caller asks for the ambulance service the operator will then ask for their telephone number in case the call becomes disconnected and then transfer the call to the ambulance control centre.
The call is assessed:
With grateful acknowledgement to East Midlands Ambulance Service for the excellent process visualisation, please see the graphic below - or click it to open a version with larger print in a new browser window.
Help is sent:
Help starts as soon as the '999' call is answered by the ambulance control room. The first thing asked is the nature of the emergency and the address of where the ambulance is required. As soon as this information is given, a Control Dispatcher will send an ambulance crew to the scene. At this point, the computer system also tells the Dispatcher whether there is a Community First Responder on duty within the area. If there is, the Dispatcher will alert them by sending a text message via the computer system. This happens within seconds of the '999' call being made.
Control can manage all ambulance vehicles through a satellite tracking system. This means that staff can identify the nearest vehicle. First Responders show on this system as a static resource when on duty so the dispatcher can quickly see how near to the incident the First Responder is and how long it should take them to get there.
While this is going on in the back ground, the staff at the control centre continue to obtain other important information such as the nature of the illness/accident, the patient's condition, age etc. They'll then begin to talk the caller through ways to help the patient, such as how to curb blood loss, look after an unconscious patient or perform CPR.The Government target for UK ambulance services is to reach 75% of Category A (immediately life-threatening) calls in 8 minutes and 95% of Category B (urgent but not thought to be immediately life threatening) calls in 19 minutes.
The First Responder's mobile phone alerts them of the callout:
As soon as the duty First Responder receives a callout, they will drop what they are doing. He/she will reply to the text message with a short code that indicates that they are en-route thus informing the Dispatcher and the ambulance crew that a First Responder is attending. The First Responder sets off for the patient's location with the emergency medical equipment and a reflective ambulance First Responder jacket which has to be worn while on scene.
If driving is involved, it will be under the Highway Code and Community First Responders are expected to comply with the law while driving to incidents.The call from control tells the First Responder where the incident location is and also gives brief details as to the condition of the patient. First Responders either attend the incident in pairs or sometimes alone. The First Responder is able to call directly to the control room to report back once they have arrived on scene and to relay the condition of the patient. Control can then pass this information onto the Ambulance or Fast Response Vehicle which will also be mobile and travelling to the scene using blue lights and sirens. First Responders can speak to control at any time to ask for directions to the incident or to obtain medical help or advice if required.
On arrival, the First Responder will have all the training and equipment necessary to manage the patient in those first few critical minutes before the ambulance arrives. In many cases, the First Responder may not actually be required to do anything other than reassure the patient and make sure that the ambulance is able to find the location. However, a First Responder could save a life, for example, as a result of a simple airway-opening manoeuvre, defibrillation or treating choking. First Responders are always backed up by a Fast Response Vehicle or Emergency Ambulance as soon as possible.
After the incident:
Support for the volunteers and analysis of the impact of the scheme in the community is an important aspect.
Community First Responders will record information about the interventions they performed and their efforts. As a team, we review all incidents together on a regular basis to share experience and knowledge and to review our response. We are backed up by a WMAS CFR Warwickshire Coordinator who is a full-time member of staff at WMAS. He/she is further supported by regional CFR coordinators who support all the CFR schemes in their part of Warwickshire and provide close liaison between the individual schemes and WMAS. They also coordinate all our training.
West Midlands Ambulance Service Support for First Responders:
Whilst on a call, Community First Responders are effectively a member of West Midlands Ambulance Service and have many of support mechanisms and protections that are afforded to full-time employees of the service.
Community First Responders are trained in simple and safe techniques that can be used to save life. These techniques are rarely associated with causing harm and, in true life and death situations, there is often little harm that can be done compared to doing nothing at all. All Community First Responders are trained to a high standard and will be expected to operate within a code of practice. Community First Responders are indemnified against accidental injury and third party liabilities by West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust. As agents of the ambulance service, they are insured against any medical errors arising providing protocols are followed.