Police Hospital Runs
30 January 2013, 12:10
Heart's been told police officers in Hertfordshire have had to take some injured people to hospital because ambulance crews have taken too long.
Hertfordshire Police Federation say some officers are having to deal with this sort of things on a daily basis. The Fire Brigades Union have also expressed concern about the performance of the East of England Ambulance Service, which covers Hertfordshire as well as Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.
Hertfordshire Police Federation Chairman Neal Alston told Heart: "Police officers are being put in very difficult situations regularly and are having to make decisions about the welfare of individuals that really aren't theirs to make. We're not paramedics, we're police officers.
He also told us police officers don't mind helping out, but it's not really what they're there for.
"If somebody is injured and needs medical attention, police officers will naturally do their best to make sure those people get that attention, even when it's not their role to," he said.
Keith Handscomb from the East Anglia branch of the Fire Brigades Union told Heart: "The concerns of the police come as no surprise to us.
"We applaud the skills and commitment of the professional paramedics and ambulance crews we work alongside but fire crews are telling us something is going seriously wrong with the 999 response of the East England Ambulance Service (EEAS).
"Fire crews tell us they and casualties are waiting longer and longer for the arrival of paramedics and ambulances. When a paramedic does arrive they are often on their own in a car or on a motorbike and are unable to take seriously injured casualties to hospital.
"Fire officers tell us of their desperate frustration at being told to wait in line when chasing up emergency requests for the attendance of an ambulance – sometimes they are told the ambulance sent to their emergency has been redirected to another call due to there being no other ambulance available.
"We have also received reports where EEAS have sent a private ambulance to casualties in a road traffic accident without either of the crew apparently having the professional medical skills needed to deal with the emergency."
The East of England Ambulance Service have told Heart they are working to improve their response times.