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Old 08 December 2023, 13:20   #1
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Ambulance Crews attending a marina

I was doing an RYA first aid course yesterday and one of the students on it noted that they had witnessed an incident at a local marina where an ambulance crew refused to treat a casualty on the pontoons because they had not done a H&S risk assessment to walk down the pontoon?

Does anyone have any insight into this?
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Old 08 December 2023, 13:37   #2
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I was doing an RYA first aid course yesterday and one of the students on it noted that they had witnessed an incident at a local marina where an ambulance crew refused to treat a casualty on the pontoons because they had not done a H&S risk assessment to walk down the pontoon?

Does anyone have any insight into this?
If its true it sounds like the guy is in the wrong job, surely in that job you would expect to find yourself in situations that might make normal folk uncomfortable, you'd expect anyone taking up a career like that to have enough sense to be able to quickly assess a scene & ascertain they are safe without doing a risk assessment score card .
World has gone crazy
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Old 08 December 2023, 17:25   #3
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If its true it sounds like the guy is in the wrong job, surely in that job you would expect to find yourself in situations that might make normal folk uncomfortable, you'd expect anyone taking up a career like that to have enough sense to be able to quickly assess a scene & ascertain they are safe without doing a risk assessment score card .
World has gone crazy
Before joining the ranks of the "economically inactive" I used to do a fair bit of Confined Space work. When I started around 30years ago, the default position in the event of an incident or emergency within the Confined Space, was to call the fire brigade. That all changed around 15 years ago, the Fire Brigade deemed it too dangerous to carry out rescues in Confined Spaces. It was fine for us to work in them after a 4 day course, but not for the "Professionals". Consequently, the industry had to hire in professional Confined Space Rescue teams at around £3-£6K/day, to basically sit around waiting for something to happen. It never did, as the jobs were Risk Assessed & Method Statemented to the Nth Degree. This cost was obviously passed on to the customer, who passed it on to the public. It wasn't even a cost saving exercise by the FB, as they rarely, if ever got called out, it was purely a H&S reaction.
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Old 08 December 2023, 19:29   #4
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I can understand the risks to personnel working a case on a narrow pontoon - plenty of chances of getting pushed in the drink - tricky in full gear if you can't swim. There's a pontoon near me with a 2kt+ current. You fall in, you're a dot.

That said, a friend of mine was helo'ed off a beach because the ambo crew "don't carry over sand".

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Old 09 December 2023, 14:33   #5
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Ambulance crews rarely carry these days. Certainly not for any distance. Too many injuries. It's not while you carry it's months later having done multiple carries.

I suspect the "we can't go down the pontoon" is a bit of mythical thing... ...they dynamically risk assess. Broken leg, not life threatening... May be better to make sure you have the right people. Cardiac arrest they ain't standing round debating if it's safe to walk down a jetty.

They have access to their Hazardous Area Response Team. They can call in CG or Lifeboat depending what's occurring.

There will be risk of taking an ambulance trolley along a pontoon. (If it falls over the edge it certainly doesn't float!)

There will be risks of using a carry chair because there are trip hazards (power lines, ropes, pipes, cleats etc) all along the pontoon.
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Old 09 December 2023, 20:56   #6
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This is often the case.

We had somebody on a boat, tied to the shore on a pontoon and the London Ambulance Service refused to go on the pontoon until the casualty was on the shore. We called the RNLI in the end who took the candidate up the pontoon and handed over to LAS.

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Old 09 December 2023, 21:19   #7
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In their defence, I've handballed loaded bodybags down staircases while assisting ambo crews - to be fair that was a few years back, now it's "No Wheel - No Deal"
If you want heavy lifting done, call an Undertaker. The Mounties can eat their hearts out - the undertakers ALWAYS get their man...


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Old 10 December 2023, 11:18   #8
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Originally Posted by Matt View Post
I was doing an RYA first aid course yesterday and one of the students on it noted that they had witnessed an incident at a local marina where an ambulance crew refused to treat a casualty on the pontoons because they had not done a H&S risk assessment to walk down the pontoon?

Does anyone have any insight into this?
Coast Guard Rescue Teams would normally carry out this type of activity on behalf of the Ambulance Service
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Old 14 December 2023, 13:21   #9
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IOW ambulance service boarded the boat and took a relative off when they couldn't get out of bed by themselves last year.

Case by case basis?
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Old 23 January 2024, 18:38   #10
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Case by case basis?
Almost certainly - they'll have been trained to dynamically risk assess the situation and decide if they need reinforcements, be it CG rescue team, fire service, more amb crew, police etc. Dynamic risk assessment is what we used to call common sense until we realised that its not that common and so having a moment where you take a deep breath and consider if what you are about to do is wise is actually just the first rule of first aid "don't become a casualty yourself"

"Pontoon" is also a very broad term which can be anything from quite wide, well lit, well maintained marina with staff around who may even provide lifejackets to a rickety, rusty, icy, narrow pontoon with various trip hazards in the dark which is a very different prospect. Add in an angry drunk or mental health case and you might suddenly be less keen to go help yourself! If you are not used to wobbly pontoons (and some marinas are better than others in that regard) if the casualty can come to you that might be more reassuring than a paramedic carrying a giant bag of kit trying to help the patient. Dunstaffnage Marina said the pontoons were so dangerous the night before last they has decided they couldn't actually go check everyone's boats at the height of the storm.

I can say that its definitely not a "universal approach" as ambulance service were definitely on the pontoons at JWD Marina last year - although by the time they left with the casualty everyone in a 20 mile radius with some HiVis seemed to be on the pontoon potentially creating increased risks!

With all these sort of stories they quickly get blown out of proportion. If someone tells you a story that seems incredible - its always good to ask yourself if the source is actually credible. Unfortunately there will probably be one or two people who read this thread and next time they are on a first aid course cite this story as though it were 100% fact. Of course it could be true - there's thousands of paramedics which means there's thousands of interpretations on what "acceptable risk" means - but the obvious questions is so what did they do? I think its very unlikely they got back in their ambulance and drove off, but that's what the story implies.
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