The Horse’s Mouth

I have just caught the 10am news on BBC Radio 4. One of the topics and one I have tweeted on already today is the further cuts to policing and how some PCC’s have increased the council tax precept in order to try (and I say “try”) to reduce the impact on the great undefined phrase of “frontline policing”.

Policing in the UK has made savings. I’ve no doubt there are more that can be made that will involve not outsourcing but greater collaboration between forces in areas such as uniform, fleet and IT.

On the news a spokesperson was wheeled in. Sadly I didn’t catch who it was*. He commented on police cuts and then talked about making savings. He gave an example of how money could be saved;

When there is an accident on the motorway we send the police, the ambulance crews and fire service to the scene. All in their own separate and very expensive vehicles. If they were to collaborate and save on those vehicles attending then savings could be made

(not verbatim)

Now I don’t know about you but in recent days/weeks/months I’ve not heard such misinformed and ignorant hogwash.

All three services have very separate roles, responsibilities and commitments to such a event.

Just imagine a 3 in 1 vehicle. It would need to be huge because the fire engine will need water. It will need a paramedic bay in order to treat casualties and it will need a large crew cab to carry firefighters, paramedics and police. Picture a fire engine… but longer… much longer, heavier and slower.

Now imagine that heavy, large, cumbersome vehicle attending the scene of a fatal pile up on the motorway with all three emergency services onboard. It arrives on the motorway to find a huge tailback. It heads up the hard shoulder and eventually gets to the scene. There are a car and a HGV involved. The truck driver is out of the cab walking wounded but his truck is on fire. The car is crushed into the central barrier. The passenger is dead and the driver is in a very bad way.

The firefighters rush to the fire, the paramedics rush to the casualty and the police begin the laborious process of trying to piece together what happened, maintain the safety of everyone else at the scene and facilitate the clearing of the stationary traffic.

Tick tock.. 20 mins later. The fire service have put the fire out and made all the vehicles safe. They no longer need to be at the scene. They want to go. They can’t leave.

Tick tock.. another 15 minutes. Paramedics have stabilised the casualty and need to get off to hospital immediately. They need to go. IMG_0564They can’t because the police still need to stay there. The Polambulengine 3in1 vehicle is the only thing between the officer maintaining the scene (a potential crime scene) and the traffic still on the motorway.

There is a large rubbish dump fire in a neighbouring town. The firefighters get a “mate pumps 10” call. They have to get to another fire. They can’t. The paramedics have a casualty that desperately needs to get to hospital. They can’t. The police officer wants to help them both but has a responsibility to the scene, the investigation, traffic flow and everyone’s safety.

I don’t need to say anymore… you already know the example given on the radio this morning was absurd. I’d go further. It’s stunning ignorance of what the emergency services do.

Making such ridiculous statements are unhelpful and contemptuous. If you want to know the truth of a situation you need to get information from the horses mouth. Those who do it every single day. Not those who spout suggestions about what professional police officers, paramedics and firefighters should do with no clear knowledge of our roles.

Get the facts from the horses mouth. Not a jackass.

* Since posting the blog it has been brought to my attention that the spokesperson in question was former policing minister Damian Green

The PolAmbulEngine image is courtesy of @martinwoods on Twitter

(Featured image courtesy of Meg_Nicol on Flickr)

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8 thoughts on “The Horse’s Mouth”

  1. I agree wholeheartedly – Get the facts from the horses mouth. Not a jackass.

    It boils my blood when spokespersons talking to the media aren’t just ill-informed they are totally ignorant to the function of the UK emergency services.

    Save more money by sensible means such as uniforms, fleet & IT – explore other avenues too but before speaking ‘ENGAGE BRAIN’.

  2. I take your point & it’s well argued with convincing examples – but why be so intolerant and vindictive in the process and risk alienation of the man-in-the-street? It doesn’t do you credit. Maybe we don’t know enough of the frontline realities but maybe we do actually want to contribute to the debate and brainstorm. The golden rule of brainstorming and lateral thinking is tolerance. For all the ‘silly’ ideas there is always the possibility of a good idea. And even the silly ideas may spawn the one good idea. I contribute this not to berate but to foster a greater tolerance of those not blessed with professional experience. Thank you for your excellent posts which I otherwi greatly value and respect.

  3. Here, in Germany, every fireman is also trained as a para-medic (They can not be a fireman if they do not pass the Paramedic exam.). They may have to wait for an actual ambulance, but the Fire Bobby on the scene is fully qualified.

    Another note; A “Fire engine” is drawn by horses, and powered by steam.”

    I presume you mean fire APPLIANCES…..?

      1. They have been Appliances since they lost the horses and steam. They were called engines because it was a steam engine.

  4. And when you get a call that only requires one service to attend, what happens to our wonderful three in one vehicle that Mr Green wants us to use?

    Do we drag the other two services along for the ride? They are not needed so No, that is not efficient or effective.

    Or do we let one service take the vehicle, leaving the other two back at the station and hope they don’t get a call whilst you are gone as you now have their vehicle? No that’s not effective or efficient.

    Or do you leave the three in one behind in case the other two need it and just take a single use traditional vehicle instead? That means we need more not less vehicles. Not efficient.

    And then there is the issue of how often all three services attend together. I guess it varies for each service but I suspect it’s a very small percentage of overall 999 calls that require the attendance of more than one emergency service straight from the initial call. Maybe one or two percent? If so then this idea is less efficient for 99% of calls in order to be more efficient for 1%. Doesn’t sound like an overall winner to me.

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