James Little Ambulance Page
I joined the Scottish Ambulance Service in June of 1995.The position available was full time relief which basically means that I do not have a regular shift pattern but rather I fill in for those staff in my area (and beyond) who are on annual leave or sick leave. This is a mixed blessing as my shifts can, and do, change at very short notice throwing any previously made plans into dis-array but it also means that I am the only staff member in the area who regularly works with every other person and ensures a mix of job types and experiences.
The staff at Lochinver
and Kinlocbervie stations are taken together from an administrative point of view,
although they are about 50 miles apart (by road). There are Five staff at Lochinver
all now full time positions. There are two shifts running parallel to each other which work from a practical point of view but which cause all sorts of problems from an administrative standpoint. These are a 10 day shift which starts with three late shifts 1700 to 0100 on a Wednesday, followed by four 24 hour shifts 0900 to 1700 with 16 hours of Standby. (More on standby later) then ends with three day shifts only, with no standby. Alongside this is a 12 hour shift, the preferred pattern of the Ambulance Service manager except for their own shift ;) which runs from Wednesday to Tuesday and has five 12 hour shifts and two 10 hour shifts which sees the 12 hour staff doing two weeks work in one week and then get a week off. I personally don't like this pattern as I think 12 hours is too much work in one day but, when put in the context of a 24 hour on call station it really doesn't make any difference how you dress it up, 24 hours is 24 hours.
Kinlochbervie station now has five members of staff just like Lochinver due to the employment of a part time relief this year (2010) However, they are all part time and look set to remain that way for the foreseeable future.
There are no station buildings in the remote Highland Stations. All staff
at these locations work exclusively from their homes. On receipt of a call to attend
a casualty one member of staff will have the vehicle at their home and will usually
receive the call first by telephone. The second crew member will then get called
while the first is, hopefully, rushing to the vehicle to get the job started.
Vehicle cleaning is carried out on a daily basis by both duty staff. There was a
problem early on with finding suitable premises for carrying out these cleaning
duty's which was solved initially by joining with the Fire Brigade and using
their existing facility for these activities. This however came to an abrupt end for
some un-disclosed reason and we now use the local Coast guard building in a sort of
symbiotic relationship where the S.A.S have provided a power washer unit for use by
The co-operation with the Coastguard also cam to an abrupt end for undisclosed reasons and we are now storing our cleaning equipment in the cleaning cupboard of the local health centre and cleaning in their car park.
The situation in Kinlochbervie has chnaged also as they were previously affilliated with the Coastguard also and now work out of the Local fire Station! Ever the mystery :)
The current Lochinver Vehicle is a VW LT van. When compared directly to the previous model, a Mercedes Sprinter, it is a little, "Agricultural" being as it is a great deal more noisy both in the Cab and the Saloon. However, it is powerful enough and, although it takes a little longer to get there, it is eventually a little quicker than the Mercedes. ONe or two problems have been experienced with the Electrical system ranging from the Saloon lights suddenly going off to the Talking Petrol flap man (I kid you not) and talking revering warning man (his brother) speaking away to themselves without being asked or talked to!! Other than that this has been a fairly reliable vehicle suffering only one major breakdown and a potential major breakdown in it's first year at Lochinver
In most respects this vehicle has similar spec to the previous one as regards equipment and so still maintains the same desiogn of ramp and winch etc. The ramp and winch system on all front line vehicles are to avoid the need for the crew to lift the already heavy trolley cot with a patient on board. The ramp enables the crew to simply roll the loaded trolley up and into the rear of the vehicle. This system, or a similar one, will be included in all future vehicles in the S.A.S. (This by end 2006) Also still fitted to every vehicle in the Fleet is a satellite vehicle location system which, allow us to be tracked wherever we are!! Good and bad here. It turns out to be nearly impossible to get a meal break as, whenever we are in Inverness we are always closer to any given job than the Local crews!
|Lochinver Ambulance 2005||Lochinver Ambulance rear with ramp down|
|Lochinver Ambulance Offside Saloon||Lochinver Ambulance nearside Saloon|
|Lochinver Vehicle Power or An hengine|
|Lochinver Vehicle Controls (or The Flight Deck)|
By and large working from a remote station is exactly the
same as working from any station in Scotland with a few significant differences. The
first of these is of course the volume of work. We are quiet! sometimes so quiet
that there will be no work for an entire shift of seven, or ten days. This is a
problem for staff at locations such as these as Emergency Ambulance work involves a
lot of practical skills which require practice to remain fully conversant with.
There seems little that can be done at present to address this problem due to the
usual constraints of time & funding.
The reality is that, when the work comes along, we manage well, usually under very difficult & sometimes unusual circumstances. Rural stations such as ours are where the crew staff spend the most time with a patient of any other areas in the British isles. We can be with some patients for upwards of two and a half hours (which is the average transport time to hospital at Inverness.) If there are difficulties with the patients condition or location then we can, and do, spend considerably longer with each person. This extra time gives us unique opportunities to observe changes in condition (for better or worse) rarely seen by our town based colleagues which will be within minutes of a hospital and therefore limit the time spent with patients. We also do far more work in conjunction with Helicopter crews and with B.A.S.I.C.S GP's and all of this leads to a slightly different mind set and experience base than most in our job. There is nothing quite like the difficult extraction from the tiny Croft house to get you mind thinking and looking for a "Better Way"
That is that for the moment. I amy add further stuff in the near future. such as equipment and, with agreement of course, some staff information/Pictures
But for now thats all folks.
Here's your way out