Deployment of Ambulances To Stand-by Locations

As far as Unison Health & Safety is concerns there has been no consultation, engagement, conversations or agreements of late with regard to changing the existing agreements. Other than base stations and reporting posts the only two (2) alternative locations that ambulance crews can be assigned in order to provide stand-by cover are Response Posts and Dynamic Activation Posts (DAPs).

DAPs have very limited facilities and crews must have access at these locations to refreshments and toilets.

There is no requirement for any rest or relaxation facilities eg easy chairs because the maximum length of time a crew can be assigned to a DAP. Is 45 minutes.

The reason behind 45 minutes is down to the computer predicting that cover in that location might be needed. If the crew have not been assigned a call by 45 minutes the dispatcher must assign them to a response post, base station or reporting post where the crew can freshen up and prevent musculoskeletal injuries happening. If the crew are not contacted by control then the crew can contact control to identify which location with facilities EOC would like the crew to move to.

It is NOT acceptable under these circumstances to send the crew to a far-flung remote location passing other stand-by facilities on route because this is no different than a Roaming Stand-by which Unison and the Trust has agreed will not be acceptable.

If a crew have been at a DAP and get assigned to a call, when they come clear from that call, the next stand-by location should be a base station, reporting post or response post with full facilities which the crew were denied access to at the DAP unless the crew are agreeable to remaining at a DAP.

The same rule applies if the crew at a DAP are assigned to a call and before reaching the patient, are stood down from that call. Their next location should not be another DAP. The new system of dispatch allows additional time to triage calls so that should prevent “premature” assignments to call that are cancelled within a very short time.

If a DAP is co-located within a shared facility eg a Supermarket, respite centre or hospital, there may be limitations restricting the hours when the facility can be used. In these circumstances, ambulance crews cannot be assigned to them until after the facility has opened or after the start of the agreed start time. This is to prevent crews travelling to a facility that is not available on arrival. Likewise, a crew should not be assigned to a DAP that will have closed or no longer be available on Arrival. Both these situations are to be avoided because they amount to Roaming Stand-by which The Trust and Unison agreed is not acceptable and crews should not be pressurised into these situations.

Response post must have adequate and sufficient facilities for crews to be assigned there for an unspecified length of time and the facilities include adequate tables and chairs to enable crews to go there for their meal breaks. It is not acceptable to assign a number of staff to a response post that has fewer easy chairs or less space per person based upon the number that will be there at any one time regardless of whether meal breaks will be taken there or not.

The requirements at Response Posts include but are not limited to:

1. Free & safe access / egress and good security
2. External lighting, off road parking for DSA & RRV & shoreline
3. Crew room to accommodate up to four (4) staff
4. Sufficient easy chairs for the staff on standby there
5. Meal table and four (4) chairs
6. Microwave(s), Fridge, kettle and 4-slice toaster
7. BT incoming line, PC installation and network access
8. Risk assessments and Fire Instructions
9. NOBO notice board and wipe clean board
10. Fire extinguishers and wall clock
11. TV, DVD player, radio and TV licence
12. Disposable cutlery, plates and cups
13. Bread knife, paring knife, can opener and chopping board(s)
14. Swing-top waste bin and liners
15. Water cooler from main
16. Tea, coffee, sugar and UHT milk
17. Cleaners kit (broom, pan, vacuum, mop & bucket)
18. Detergent, road salt for winter

On arrival at a response post, if the staff find that items are broken, non-functioning or missing, they are required to inform their duty manager / EOC immediately so that the fault can be rectified, repaired or replaced.

The amount of space per person in the workplace is 11 cubic metres based upon a floor space of 2.0 x 2.3m).

These rules have not materialised out of thin air nor have they been dreamt up in order to thwart the Trust or hamper dispatch. These rules were mutually agreed during joint meetings between management and Unison and they form the basis of trust, transparency and partnership working (Response Post Criteria and Facilities Check List 2009). Should either party willingly or maliciously undertake acts or omissions to subvert this agreement it could be viewed as an intentional act to destroy the very principles of co-operation that partnership requires in order to succeed.

My comments may come across as somewhat formalised or even harsh, but it is absolutely vital that management and Unison do not allow any form of wedge, barrier or divide to be created or to exist between our call takers, dispatchers and crews. We must take every possible step to ensure that we work jointly as a united team for the benefit of our staff and our patients.

In order that The Team remains united it is crucial that all players abide by the rules.

The documents that were sent out specifying the facilities required at DAPs and Response Posts are unchanged, still current and employees should notify their managers if, when they reach the stand by facility, they find any items missing, damaged or not working.

Jeff Pittman

Senior Paramedic

Unison Health and Safety Officer

2 February 2020