Saturday, May 20, 2017


I am no longer active with St John, however fourteen years of service leaves me with undiminished admiration for the efforts of volunteers who will never be accepted or thanked for their service in far, too many cases.

The recent announcement of additional funding to St John drew a totally predictable response from people with zero appreciation of the stresses on and commitment of volunteers,  by paid staff and management.

Most paramedics and advanced paras are doing great service and their presence makes for a high likely hood of patient survival to an extent the "golden hour" is largely consigned to history.
However nearly all the comment from St John people whether authorised or not was negative. Now that could have been justifiable had volley leaders made such comment as many of them contribute to the organisation both in service and training that incurs costs never recoverable and without their unremunerated efforts, the service would grind to a standstill in short order.

Too much of the leadership is inadequate abilitywise and disfunctional.

Now to the tale of stupidity, lacking compassion and understanding, that has me exercised.
I am relying on the story as related to me by someone I have no reason to doubt and that person is  unlikely to have elaborated or sensationalised it but the distress was still palpable.

A person is rostered  on as first aid responder at a coop organisation selling liquor and food who heard a commotion erupting outside the main entrance and did what their brief included, going to see if help was required.
A male vs female incident had progressed to a situation where the male, in a rage, had punched through a glass window and on withdrawing their arm sustained serious lacerations with ongoing blood loss, the injury included large blood vessel cuts. The off duty ambo did the necessary, gloves,  towels, calmed the still quite active, now victim, and went to work to stem the bleeding, called on a random bystander to call 111 and asked the partner of the now in mortal danger patient, to leave, then asked others to get her out of the immediate scene which all happened, leaving things in a sort of manageable chaos, that was when it became surreal.
Patient calming further from blood loss and on being repeatedly told that keeping still and listening could save their life but showing signs of onset shock and bloodloss symptoms. It is quite difficult to estimate bloodloss of the available average 4.5 liters when spread around a scene.
An ambulance arrived and stopped clear of the scene with its crew remaining seated inside.
Treatment person asked the co-opted 111caller to go tell them the Pt was going south and needed  ED asap.
Nup, it had morphed into a Domestic Violence incident and they could not assist until police backup arrived leaving the scene in the hands of bystanders who had no uniform, training, or any other protection but are immune to any danger that some lowife has deemed too dangerous for. Things eventually happened in the fullness of time relieving the first responder by now covered in the victims blood and somewhat shaken while the Ambulance crew took over.
Then there was a further delay as DV protocol required more police presence as the victim now in the ambulance was to be accompanied to ED by plod.

That was the end of the drama for Mr and Ms DV for now but for the Joe and Josephine citizens,  not so. No one, police or ambulance, gave any consideration for what had been a very fraught and troubling, un-necessarily prolonged incident.
The off duty Ambo has, because they were aware of downstream repercussions, had discussions with peers over what was seen as serious shortcomings in the treatment of citizens simply doing their best as events unfolded.
There is a case before the courts in Christchurch involving such a Joe Citizen who became involved in the collapsed CTV building rescue, in the aftermath of the February 22nd 2011 quake,  who is being denied ACC coverage for alleged post traumatic stress.

What my informant and the never identified phone support person were not offered, and in my informants case still have not been offered, even a simple superficial assessment  if they have any outcomes that need addressing and that is not anywhere remotely adequate as I type this.

During my service and training we were constantly lectured on the need for awareness of additional patients around such a traumatic incident that included here a trained off duty volly  using their skills to save a life, another who stepped up to create and maintain communications, others who assisted by removing the non injured but involved partner of the Pt who all should have as a minimum been given a brief assessment, some advice on next moves and an offer particularly to the off duty Ambo who would have been exposed to after effects that only those who have been there can understand.

Such things are cumulative and can become a crisis, triggered by an almost innocuous incident. I had an occasion in decades past where I was required to be transported by plod to a court hearing in another place as a material witness to a charge of dangerous driving.  My chauffeur was a late Middle aged senior constable on his first day back from a breakdown who was clearly still a little fragile. My previous life as a volley telephone councillor recognised the guy had a desire to talk about his time out and eventually he revealed he was a little mystified how what had "set him off" was rather inconsequential.  Having years of duty where some horrific scenes had been confronted, up to and including decapitations in road smashes, all apparently absorbed and dealt with, not quite however.
What triggered this man to a breakdown was a mug of coffee upset from the home kitchen table by his son.

Instead of tossing money at a still transitioning organisation that was previously focussed on first aid,  basic life support from ABC, limb immobilisation, compression bleeding control, to paramedics with access to drugs and advanced medical interventions who can commence what waited until ED for implementation back in the day.
How about a top to bottom re-evaluation of the whole organisation by a commission of inquiry type assessment, possibly  by a senior trauma expert, a finance controller and even  includee an intelligent outsider who approach the current governance and delivery performance in its entirety as fit for purpose.
Leaving the monkeys to settle what they will do with a larger bag of candy seems a little retarded as they scrabble for a share and above all else patch protection.


Anonymous said...

Agree whole heartedly with the sentiment, the number of hours of peoples lives donated to StJ's is phenomenal. You probably know my good friends from the port PD and his wife D sadly now left the Port because of the big shake.

Lord Egbut

George said...

I did 8 years efficient last time I had anything to do with them as a volunteer.
A lot of good people and a few ratbags.
The ambulance side should be totally govt funded

Noel said...

Went to a little place in Victoria for ANZAC day and didnt drink enough water an had a dizzy turn. Medics in attendance, all the vitals ok after a good drink of water.
Got home to a $1045 ambulance bill.

Aussie Veteran here would be charged 80 dollars

Adolf Fiinkensein said...


How far were you transported in the ambulance?

If the medics already on site simply told you to sit down and gave you a drink, I'd ignore their bill. Tell the story to on of the talk back jocks.

Noel said...

I forgot there was a funny side.
The callout address was the same as the delivery address.
Probably something to do with the fact I never set foot in an ambulance.

Noel said...

Adolf I heard the Ambo's say should we elevate this to an event or something after taking the vitals.
Didnt understand until later.
Perhaps thinking I was an Australian Veterans whose covered by their generous Veterans system.

George said...

Noel you could always charge them the same amount and call it 'Entertainment tax' as they probably only had you as a patient at that time.