With 999 calls increasing year-on-year, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) is working with West Midlands Police to educate ambulance crews and police about their own calls to each other.
WMAS and West Midlands Police, through a working group, have joined forces to share best practice, educate staff and streamline the working arrangements between the two services in a bid to reduce the demand placed upon each other by each other.
The services are sharing and updating vital details on warning markers and information on ‘at risk’ addresses to enable crews and police to undertake effective risk assessments prior to requesting help from each other.
The education drive, through posters, internal newsletters and aide memoires, will also highlight to police officers and ambulance crews the common misconceptions they may have and the instances where help should be sought from each other.
Every day in the West Midlands, the police and ambulance service answer in excess of 4,000 999 calls. Some of the calls result in both emergency services attending, however sometimes the police and ambulance service call each other for help when they don’t need to.
One common reason for ambulance crews to call West Midlands Police is to help gain access to a property to reach a patient. In reality, ambulance crews can force entry to a property if they believe there is a risk to the patient. Similarly, the police often call for an ambulance when a victim, offender or a member of the public they encounter has minor injuries. Minor injuries do not warrant an emergency ambulance and, instead, the police should be advising the injured to self-refer to a minor injury unit, NHS Walk in Centre or A&E as a last resort to get those injuries checked.
Jeremy Brown, the Trust’s Head of Emergency Operations Centres, is involved in the Working Group and said: “We rely on each other every single day for help but, in reality, with increasing demand on both services it’s crucial we look at how we can work more efficiently to ensure we’re delivering the right patient care, in the right place and at the right time.
“Working in partnership means we can establish clear guidelines for both ambulance staff and police staff and learn from each other in the process through exploring the calls historically made and received. It is hoped that these simple measures will ensure that both of our precious resources will be used much more effectively and will only be called upon when it’s really necessary.”
Superintendent Chris Johnson from Force Contact at West Midlands Police said: “We urge members of the public to think before they call 999 so that they do not place unnecessary demand on the emergency services and the same applies to our own staff.
“As a starting point we are going back to basics by asking our staff to really think about their own reasons for calling 999 and outlining in what instances either service will attend. Ultimately our resources are finite and we want to reduce unnecessary demand so that we can ensure that help is given where it is most needed.”