Yesterday (Wednesday 28 February) East Midlands Ambulance Service enacted its plans to help the service cope with the snowfall across much of the region served.
A Strategic Command Cell has been set up at EMAS Headquarters to operate 24 hours a day throughout this protracted incident and to provide support to local EMAS Tactical Cells set up in each county.
Robust plans are helping, and we are getting to patients that are reported to be in a life threatening or very serious condition. However, there are patients reporting less serious illness that are potentially experiencing long waits, particularly those located in areas cut off by the snow. Where appropriate, safe and possible, alternative NHS care is being sought for the patient.
Clearly the very poor and challenging road conditions in some areas are making a speedy response difficult.
A huge amount of work continues behind the scenes. In brief, some of the actions taken include:
- Ensuring ambulance vehicles are fully fuelled, and stocked with snow socks and shovels etc.
- Identifying vehicles that may be available for ambulance crews ready to start their shift, if their vehicle is stuck at hospital with a crew at the end of their shift but waiting to give a patient clinical handover.
- Arrangements made for colleagues to change their reporting base if they knew they’d struggle to get to their usual shift start location, and in some cases we arranged for 4 x 4 transport to pick up colleagues to help them get to and from work.
- We operate the Derbyshire Patient Transport Service (PTS) for routine hospital appointments (note: PTS is delivered by private providers in other counties in the region). The weather is causing significant challenges in the county (on average our PTS crews provide journeys for ten patients, but the road conditions have reduced that to approximately 5 per day). In order to ensure we reach the patients who most need to get to their hospital appointment, eg those requiring vital treatment such as oncology and dialysis, we cancelled non-essential journeys for appointments for day clinics such as physiotherapy.
- Asking patients that are fit to sit to do so on arrival in a hospital chair rather than wait on an ambulance stretcher.
- Liaising with hospital emergency departments to ask that our ambulance crews are able to return to their vehicle as soon as possible. In some areas ambulance service managers are being deployed to oversee arrivals at hospital.
EMAS Chief Executive Richard Henderson said: “I thank all our staff and volunteers for their continued commitment to our patients.
“The weather is causing challenging driving conditions but I have heard so many stories over the past day or so of colleagues and volunteers going above and beyond to ensure they are able to do their job and help the people in our communities.
“From colleagues out on the road and those in our control centres to the teams that support them, their hard work is very much appreciated by not only the EMAS Trust Board, but those in the communities that we care for; as is shown by the messages of praise we receive from many of them on our social media accounts.”