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Time after time


Clock stopping.


The thing that drives dispatchers everywhere – the time between receiving a call and some form of response arriving on the scene. Unfortunately, this is often seen as more important than the patient and their ailment.


I was sent to a fall once when I was single crewed. Falls are jobs that ambulance service SOPs (Safe Operating Practices) dictate should be attended by 2 or more staff). There was no way I was helping this patient from the floor myself. There were no injuries so, once I had made the patient comfortable, I updated control. Well over an hour later a second, double crewed, ambulance arrived and the patient was helped to their bed. The patient lay on the floor for almost 2 hours from the initial call, but the job was classed as a success because I got there in the prescribed time and the clock was stopped.


In 1974 the ORCON (Operational Research Consultancy) standard was created. ORCON was a way to monitor the performance of ambulances (and crews). The biggest thing being the ability for crews to get to a Category A call (cardiac arrest etc) within 8 minutes. By these standards, if a crew arrived at a job within 8 minutes and the patient died, the job would be seen as a success. Should the patient survive but the crew took longer than 8 minutes to arrive, the job would be a failure…


Much has changed in ambulance services, and ambulance crew abilities, since 1974.


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