Ambulance Service bosses criticised for lack of Paramedics on 999 calls

West Midlands Ambulance Service said today it was ‘fully committed’ to achieving its ambition of having a paramedic on every emergency vehicle.

West Midlands Ambulance Service have faced a backlash for not guaranteeing a Paramedic attends every 999 call.

New figures reveal that ambulance technicians or emergency care assistants (ECA) often attended the scene of an incident instead.

The statistics show that paramedics weren't the first on the scene at 23,912 call-outs during the last four years. This number includes 86 ‘red 1’ calls, the highest category for patients who have suffered cardiac arrest or who have stopped breathing. However many people have hit back at the criticism, pointing out that ambulance technicians undergo thorough training and are calling the findings of the report into question.

Technicians skills are generally teamed with a paramedic, however their training makes them experienced medical practitioners in their own right. ECA's are generally sourced to drive ambulances under blue light conditions and administer basic first aid, thus freeing technicians and paramedics to deal with more serious issues.

One Dudley resident who recently had cause to call 999 said: "You do generally expect a paramedic. However the technicians that came out to me were incredibly professional and were able to stabilise me and keep me comfortable.

"In the end they had to call for backup because I needed morphine and they're not allowed to give it. I know on paper a paramedic is always going to be what you want, but I'm sure if they get called to a cardiac arrest they're not just going to stand there helpless.

"You don't walk into Russell's Hall and expect to see a consultant straight away, besides, the ticket office at my local train station know how to use a defibrillator, I'm sure the ambulance staff do too!"

Observers also note that, in many cases, the trust's pool of 'Community First Responders' are the first to attend emergency call outs, especially in more rural areas. CFR's are volunteers who have attended an intensive course and are trained to administer basic life support until an emergency vehicle arrives on scene.

West Midlands Ambulance Service said today it was ‘fully committed’ to achieving its ambition of having a paramedic on every emergency vehicle. The service has recently launched a recruitment drive to find 150 student paramedics to bolster numbers in the future and has defended the figures, saying that 23,912 call outs make up just 1.8 per cent of the total attended by crews across the region.

Spokesman Claire Brown told the Express and Star: “West Midlands Ambulance Service is the best performing ambulance service in the country, with all staff doing a fantastic job responding to an average of 3,000 emergency calls a day around the region.

“As a trust we have the highest ratio of paramedics on the frontline of any UK ambulance service and we are fully committed to achieving our ambition of having a paramedic on every emergency vehicle and we will be the only ambulance service in the country to achieve this objective.

“All our staff are developed and trained to a high standard, which means we continue to provide the very best care to patients across the West Midlands".


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