Rumour busting

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Thank you to all those who have emailed already – the first round of Q&As are below.

RRV lines

Question: In a recent Need to Know it was stated that those of us on a substantive RRV line would be left. However I was informed that the RRVs will be reduced and that I will remain on my shift line but this would be on a DSA.  Could you please clarify this situation?

Answer: Substantive personnel working on response cars will remain in place, unless they wish to come off the car and work on a double crewed ambulance (DCA) instead. This applies whether they are technicians, paramedics or emergency care practitioners. When any of these staff are on leave, in training or absent for any other reason, that shift will not be covered. The only exception to this rule is when a ‘protected’ car, such as the Leighton Buzzard car, is uncovered and that shift will be covered by relief or overtime. These changes are to be instigated in the short term until our new student paramedics join the frontline in sufficient numbers. RRV personnel can work overtime on ambulances.

DOMs responding to incidents

Question: What incidents are DOMs expected to respond to?  The following was in issue 171 of Need to Know: “Duty operational managers are expected to manage the service and support their staff in their area and only attend red 1 calls and incidents that require a manager.” However HEOCs have been advised of a new HSOP (link) regarding officer deployment that conflicts with this. Could this please be clarified?

Answer: Duty Operations Managers (DOMs) will be required to respond to incidents in two cases:

1)  To respond to Red 1 calls as a clinician, if they are the closest resource. For Red 1 calls or incidents we simply need get the closest clinician there to start treatment, regardless of job role.

2)  A DOM may also be asked to attend other incidents where managerial input is required, e.g. a serious, large scale or major incident; if a staff member has been injured; or there has been a service vehicle accident (this is not an exhaustive list and decisions will be made based on assessment of live incidents by the HEOC duty manager). It is anticipated that these incidences will be minimal.

The only exception to the above is if the on-duty Gold Commander deems it necessary to have additional or extra cover, e.g. in periods of extreme demand, adverse weather etc. In this instance, the Gold Commander can override the current system and DOMs may be required to respond on the frontline. This will only be in exceptional circumstances. On other occasions if an Officer hears a general broadcast and is able to respond please contact HEOC immediately.

The HSOP will be reviewed and changed to reflect this – thank you for bringing it to our attention.

Paramedics and EMTs being split

Question: We have been hearing the rumour a lot recently (sometimes from managers) that DSA lines crewed by a qualified EMT and a paramedic will be permanently split up to both work with ECAs, could you let us know if there is any truth in this?

Answer: It’s not the Trust’s intention to permanently split up paramedic and technician crews; as you will have hopefully seen in recent issues of Need to Know, our aim is simply to have a paramedic on every vehicle; this is why CEO Dr Anthony Marsh has launched a recruitment drive for another 400 student paramedics. These extra paramedics will, in time, help to fulfil that goal of having a paramedic on every vehicle. If a paramedic is already crewed with a technician on a rota line, then this requirement is clearly already fulfilled.

You may also have seen that the Trust has stopped recruiting ECAs and is moving away from double ECA crews. Our current ECAs will instead be given the opportunity to progress to technician and then paramedic level, along with our existing EMTs, should they choose to do so. In simple terms, this will mean that we have more qualified, highly skilled clinicians on the road treating patients.

We want to put out all of our ambulances with qualified crews and in the interim period we are trying to stop, or at least minimise the deployment of any double ECA crews. Local situations vary dependent upon how many ECAs are in the local staffing. We would like staff to support us in our aim to put out all qualified responding ambulances and this may mean some temporary changes whilst more staff are recruited. The changes won’t be permanent, unless staff want to move, and may be done on a shift by shift basis dependent upon local needs.

It is hoped this will be in the minority rather than the majority of cases. Where possible, we will of course use new or un-partnered staff to fill this role, allowing technician and paramedic crews to stay together if they want to and are able to.

The ECA to EMT progression pathway

Question: I have found that there are many rumours in relation to the ECA – EMT progression pathway.

Some people are saying that ALL ECAs that want it and pass the pre-course assessment, will be given a place on a course to train to EMT; others are saying that there are only limited places and, once these places are filled, there will be no further progression opportunities with the remainder staying as ECAs.

Answer: As shared in issue 171 of Need to Know, the Trust is moving forward with its ECA to EMT pathway; a pilot course has been run and as such, the Trust will be making 60 places available each year for the next three years. Any ECA that wants to apply for one of these places is welcomed and encouraged to do so.

It’s certainly the Trust’s vision that any ECA in the service that wants to complete this technician pathway and passes the assessment will be given the opportunity to so – but as stated above the Trust will have 60 places available each year. It’s simply not feasible to convert all our ECAs to technicians in one go. Once this three year period is up (so 180 ECAs have completed the technician pathway), the Trust will then reassess how many courses it needs for the next few years and make more places available as appropriate.

So in essence, both sides of your rumour are true – all ECAs in the Trust will be given the opportunity to progress to technician level if they want to and are able to (and then hopefully paramedic), but these opportunities will be spread out over the course of the next few years. This will mean that in three years’ time we will have another 180 technicians on the road, which is really positive for both staff and our patients.

It’s also important to note that any ECA that doesn’t want to progress to technician level won’t be made to. Any ECA that wishes to stay as an ECA can do so for as long as they choose.

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