Gaining emergency access

Clinical Instruction

Following two incidents, where emergency crews have attempted to force entry to a property using an oxygen cylinder, we would like to remind you of your responsibilities and the options available to you.

Using an oxygen cylinder forcibly is extremely dangerous and could cause harm to you, your colleagues, your patients and members of the public.

EEAST have arrangements with either the Police or Fire Service in each county, to gain emergency access to property where it is believed that a person needs urgent medical treatment.

AOC (Ambulance Operations Centre) and Ops Instruction EI046 Gaining Emergency Access (Jim’s legacy) clarifies the responsibility for gaining access in these circumstances, and also the responsibility for securing the property afterwards.

EI046 makes provision in certain circumstances for EEAST staff to:

“Continue/complete dynamic risk assessment and consider facilitating emergency access with the minimum amount of damage and personal risk.”

EEAST staff do not carry tools for forcing an entry, nor are we trained to do so. Therefore, the dynamic risk assessment should preclude any actions that require equipment in order to gain entry. There was a period during the fire service industrial action, where we did carry such equipment, but this is no longer the case and any legacy equipment should be removed.

Do not delay calling the Police/Fire Service. Some examples of suitable risk assessment would include:

  • Climbing onto a first-floor flat roof may be attempted, if safe access is available e.g. an existing fire escape to safely climb up, and ensuring it is a load bearing roof.
  • Do not attempt to use Trust equipment to force entry, such as oxygen cylinders. It can be extremely dangerous and could result in serious injury (Watch this YouTube video). If you need tools - you need help!
  • Sense check with your LOM (Leading Operations Manager) or peers around access.

Please remember: you can only look after patients, if you look after yourself first!

Published 14th November 2019

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