Please, please, help our paramedic heroes

Fallen down stairs
Always there when we need them – just call 999

Temperatures are plunging, but the NHS is in meltdown.

There’s massive and unprecedented demands on the service all over  – ambulance services, A&Es, treatment centres stretched to the limit as if it’s New Year’s Eve.

It might be an ordinary week in the run up to Christmas, but more people are feeling the sudden cold and succumbing, more victims are being felled in norovirus attacks, and more people are drinking themselves silly – more arguments, more fights, more injuries, more accidents.

Pre-Christmas crisis

With 11,008 call outs last week, London Ambulance Service has raised its service status to critical.

The rest of the country was equally scary – West Midlands 3,550, North West 3,973, East of England 3,278.

Scarier still is that around 1 in every 10 call outs is alcohol related – a legacy of low prices that encourage drinking at home before a night out – straight into a drinking culture fuelled by festive season bonhomie and extended opening hours.

Many other calls are unnecessary, paramedics responding to patients who should have gone to their GP.

But many people can’t get to their GP. With many surgeries only open during business hours, waiting times for an ordinary appointment can be a week or more. Not good when you’re hurting and need attention NOW.

Going to A&E has the same problem. First priority is of course to more serious cases – but even for acute pain you can expect to be triaged to a standard 4-hour wait.

Paramedic superstars

So it’s the ambulance crews who take the brunt – long 12-hour shifts with no let up from pressure.

The stress is amazing. Response time for a life-threatening emergency is supposed to be eight minutes. Not easy when traffic congestion alone could make journeys ten times longer.

A bottle-neck in many A&Es ramps up the pressure. They’re busy in there.

Backed up when they should be on the road, ambulances might queue four and five deep to reach a hospital bay – and during that time the patient is the crew’s responsibility – along with pressure to cope with still more incidents happening out there, round the clock…

Across the board the NHS is receiving £700 million to cope with this year’s pressure. It’s not enough and all of it should go to the ambulance service urgently.

Because in case you hadn’t noticed, life isn’t as easy as it once was. GPs no longer make house calls. And when you finally do get through to an appointment, five minutes consultation time is your lot – next please, there’s people waiting.

But call 999 and the ambulance service comes running. Which means that paramedics are way more than the frontline emergency teams they’re trained to be. And as the sharp edge of the NHS, their work takes the heat off right through the whole system , not least through overworked A&Es.

In safe hands

You see, to Tom, Dick or Harrys like us, getting sick or having an accident is a major drama. We’re scared, we don’t know what’s happening to us, we anticipate the worst.

Which is where the training of our paramedics is so amazing. And why they get called so often.

Theirs is the calm, confident voice of the professional. Reassuring. Soothing. You’re obviously in the hands of experts. You can relax.

You’re in your own home too. Not the daunting environment of a hospital. Familiar things surround you while practiced hands provide care. You’re going to be OK. No panic attacks. No nervous reactions. No complications.

If you’ve ever been cared for by an ambulance crew you’ll know the quiet sureness, the easy confidence – already three-quarters of the way to feeling better.

Meet your new GP

Which makes them our new GPs – and then some. And every year 1 in 20 of us will call urgently for their services.

Not for “take two aspirins and call me in the morning” either – but for serious needs like segment elevation myocardial infarction – a type of heart attack.

Anything in fact, from minor injuries to cardiac arrest, to multiple casualties from serious road accidents. How many GPs can handle that?

Our paramedics are still in the hot seat though. The NHS is a big place and £700 million doesn’t go very far in a country that needs expert care 24/7.

More ambulances, more crews, more systems to handle them, they’re urgent now.

Because come rain or shine, our paramedics are always there when we need them – no matter how tired, hungry or rushed of their feet they are.

Genuine heroes.

And they deserve better than 10p in the pound for saving our lives.

Originally posted on 6 August 2018 @ 8:18 am

Why soap and water will soon be saving your life

Teddy in washer
So simple – soap and water is a lot easier than going to the Doc all the time

Count on it, in the very near future, your life will depend on soap and water.

They will be the only thing between you and certain death.

Good old lifesavers

So how you use them  – or whether you use them at all – is already a lot more critical than you might ever imagine.

Because in your lifetime – and sooner rather than later – our wonder-drug antibiotics will no longer work. Bacterial superbugs will have mutated to become totally resistant to them.

Which means – going back to the dark ages before penicillin was discovered – that no longer will we be protected from our own adventurousness, recklessness, clumsiness, or foolhardiness.

Our new killers

Overnight, almost everything and anything could be the death of us.

  • Eating meat — bacteria in meat is increasingly resistant to antibiotics and can kill us.
  • A cut or scratch — before penicillin, 1 in 9 skin infections killed.
  • Any surgical cut or incision — openings for even minor ops leave us open to infection.
  • Dialysis or blood transfusion — any open blood vessel is susceptible to sepsis.
  • Insect bites — especially the itchy ones, leading to infections from scratching.
  • Colds or flu — even mild infections cause pneumonia. Without antibiotics, 30% of cases kill.
  • Childbirth — which used to kill 5 mothers out of 1000, and more by Caesarean.
  • Any cannula, ventilator or catheter.
  • Surgical implants like artificial hips or pacemakers.
  • Burns of any kind —the most infection-prone type of wound.
  • Cosmetic surgery — without antibiotics, even Botox injections is no longer risk free.
  • Tattoos — even the slightest skin blemish is open to infection.

So if anything happens to us, anything physical that is, about the only thing we’ll be able to do is wash it clean with soap and water. And properly, not just waggling around under the tap. Because if we’re suddenly socked by bacteria threatening enough to need antibiotics and soap and water is our defence, we’ve got to relearn everything there is about proper hygiene.

And here’s why. Right now:

Make no mistake either, it’s ONLY soap and water that will do the job.

Why wipes wipe out

Antibacterial wipes are out of it – for the simple reason that bacteria are able to resist them too, as researchers at Cardiff University have recently demonstrated.  And if MRSA, clostridium difficile and acinetobacter are able develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR), so can others. Worse, the wipes transfer resistant bacteria from one place to another, SPREADING contamination further.

Antibacterial soap suffers the same defect.

Why?

The triclosan ingredient mostly widely used to deter bacteria is shown by the US Centers for Disease Control to be itself prone to AMR, to the extent that major manufacturers are voluntarily withdrawing it and hunting for alternatives.

How about antibacterial gel?

Same only different. The active ingredient is alcohol, which breaks down the proteins of bacteria and some viruses, but not all of them. And without antibiotics to protect us, we don’t want something which does half the job.

Low tech and easy

Which brings us back to soap and water. Low tech, yes, but maybe cleverer than we think.

For one thing, most bacteria are either harmless or benign. So although we’re surrounded by them, we don’t want to wash off all of them – some of our usually resident “citizens” might actually be doing us some good. Soap and water action lets us keep these guys, but gets rid of the toxic “tourists” who might be threatening us.

Yeah, so rediscovering hygiene is not exactly going to kill us. Quite the opposite.

And as we’ve probably heard endlessly from our grandmothers, a little soap and water never hurt anyone.

Picture Copyright: kalcutta / 123RF Stock Photo