The coronavirus pandemic has seen the Emergency Ambulance Service adapt to a rapidly evolving situation which has at times seen periods of significant increases in demand.
The ambulance service is at the front-line in the community, but despite the new challenges presented by the current situation the service is coping well and has remained fully functioning, providing a high standard of care when it responds to medical emergencies, some of which are for people with coronavirus symptoms.
Chief Ambulance Officer Mark Mapp said “Although these are exceptional circumstances we plan, prepare and practice for events like this at a strategic, tactical and operational level”
St John has been working closely with colleagues at the Emergency Department, Public Health, Primary Care and Community Service as well as the Coronavirus Helpline at JESCC.
Mr Mapp added “We are also in regular contact with ambulance services in other island jurisdictions and national bodies like AACE (Association of Ambulance Chief Executives) and NARU (National Ambulance Resilience Unit).”
Although demand is always unpredictable and not constant, there have been periods when demand has been up 25-30% and the service has experienced days when several calls have come in at once – meaning several resources are deployed and staff have to be called back.
“I’d like to thank the off-duty staff who have responded to the call to come back to help maintain resilience,” said Mr Mapp.
“We have a lot of built in resilience within our organisation. In addition to the full time staff, we have a number of part time and bank staff and we are unique in that St John provides the statutory ambulance service for the island so we can call on the support of St John volunteers. We have had volunteers coming in day and night to help deep cleaning ambulances – allowing clinical staff to go back on the road ready to respond to the next emergency”
As well as responding to covid related calls the ambulance service is still responding to general medical emergencies and the Chief Ambulance Officer is reminding people they should still call 999 if they need urgent medical help
“If you are experiencing, shortness of breath, chest pain, loss of consciousness, traumatic injuries, severe bleeding, sudden onset of confusion or signs of a stroke – you must call 999. We don’t want anyone to put off calling an ambulance for serious or life threatening conditions.”
Anyone with mild coronavirus symptoms can call coronavirus helplines on 01481 756938 or 756969 – and the call-taker will decide the most appropriate care.
Mr Mapp said “When you call 999 or the helpline, please give all relevant information so you can get the right help. Withholding information or giving the wrong information could result in the wrong resources being sent to you or delay the response.”
He added “Ambulance staff have responded amazingly to the changes that have come about as a result of the pandemic. I’d like to thank all of the team, those on the front-line and all those in support roles for their resilience, professionalism and service to the community” .