Control Loses the Plot

How it should be done.

I had another ‘set-to’ with the control manager the other night. He’s one of the few people in the service that I genuinely dislike. He thinks I’m an opinionated, unhelpful, obstructive, git (true) and I think he’s a useless twerp (a sentiment shared by many of his staff according to the ones I’ve spoken to).

It all started in the early hours of the morning. I was down at the local DGH when Control rang. Would I start heading off to rendez-vous with an out of town crew coming in from Smallwood village.They’re a double EMT crew with a possible STEMI (ST elevation myocardial infarction) patient and have requested paramedic backup; you’re the only para available.”
“No problem”. I screeched away from A&E in a blaze of flashing lights and screaming engine hoping to impress the punters in the waiting room and those outside having a fag. I don’t suppose any of them even noticed. About 2 miles across town the bat phone rang.
“Cancel your current call and start heading on an ‘A’ cat ‘breathing difficulties’.”
“What about the rendez-vous?”
“We have the Poshtown vehicle ‘green’ at the DGH.”
“But they were still handing over in resus when I left. Besides I’m 2 miles ahead of them.”
“Negative, the control manager says you’re to go on the ‘A’ cat.”

I did a four wheel drift around the next roundabout; more due to the fact that the road was wet and the front tyres needed changing rather than any great feat of driving on my part. So off I headed to call number 2. I was just coming up to the road in question when the bat phone rang again. “Cancel your current call and start heading on another ‘A’ cat.”
“But I’m nearly at the address.”
“Negative, the control manager says you’re to start heading on the new call, we’ve got a nearer crew to do this job.”
HTF can there be a nearer crew when I’m almost there? To be fair this was not a great time for me to be arguing; it’s dark, the roads are wet, I’m trying to drive on blues, concentrate on Doris-the-bitch telling me where to go, the adrenaline’s pumping and now I’m trying to talk on the phone as well – multi-tasking gets me stressed. Very stressed.
“Can’t you lot make up your minds. You’re making me look like an idiot.”
I know, I know, I should have kept my big mouth shut. I slammed on the anchors, executed a crap 5 point turn, f-ing and blinding the whole time and headed off again. Half way down New Street I passed the ‘nearer’ crew heading off to the job I’d nearly got to. We waved at each other and shook out heads. Those guys in control don’t have a clue what’s going on!

I reached the required destination; the call was given as an unconscious patient by the zebra crossing. There was no one around. I drove up the road a little way; not a soul. I headed back to the crossing and checked out the nearby shops; no sign of anyone. I parked up and called Control; the line was engaged – now there’s a surprise. While I was waiting a young man, looking slightly the worse for wear, staggered up the road.
“Did you call for an ambulance mate?”
“Nah. Not me.”
“Are you ok?”
“Yeah, I’m just off home. I only live up the road there.”
Eventually Control answered. I explained the situation. The dispatcher said the call was from a passer-by who’d seen someone collapsed at the crossing.
“Have you been lying down near the crossing mate?”
“Nah, I sat down for a bit coz I felt tired though.”
“Seen anyone else around?”
“Nah, I’m just off home”.
I checked around. There was no one else. Our inebriated young man must have been the ‘unconscious’ patient. So while I’m chasing ghosts a STEMI patient is going un-thrombolysed and a ‘breathing difficulty’ is gasping for breath. I wasn’t best pleased and was even more pumped up by now.
“This is all a complete waste of time. Can you get the the duty manager to call me please.”

At night, when there is no local management about, we have a county duty manager based at HQ who’s there to sort out problems. Rather than have a barney with the control manager at least I had the presence of mind to ask for the duty manager first. As there were no other calls waiting I headed back to the DGH and met up with all the other crews involved in this fiasco.

Call 1: The Poshtown crew had indeed still been in resus and were never given the call. Instead a Churchend crew had been on cover at Poshtown station, which was only a mile or so from Smallwood and much nearer than me, and they met up with the STEMI patient crew. The patient wasn’t having an STEMI so no thrombolysis, but the paramedic travelled with the crew anyway. To top it all Control then rang the Churchend crew to ask them where they were when they got the call. “Do’h. You rang us at Poshtown station dope-heads, where do you think we where?”

Calls 2 and 3: The crew I passed had been assigned to my ‘unconscious’ patient and were nearly there when they got re-assigned to the ‘difficulty in breathing’. That’s why we passed on New Street. To make matters worse, the fact that I was now a solo responder going to a ‘collapse in a public place’, meant there should automatically have been a back-up crew assigned. There never was. The whole thing was a shambles.

The bat-phone rang.”Ah, this’ll be the duty manager.” Wrong! It was an irrate control manager. Given that I was still in ‘Mr Angry’ mode, starting the conversation off with “I hear you’ve got a problem with my decisions” was like waving the proverbial red rag at the bull. I told him what I thought. He shouted back so I shouted at him.
“We based our decisions on what the system was telling us.”
“Well the system was wrong.”
“No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.” “No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.” “No it isn’t.” “Yes it is.”
“You’re only worried about response times not patient care.”
“No we aren’t.” “Yes you are.” “No we aren’t.” “Yes you are.” “No we aren’t.” “Yes you are.”
“Admit it, you got it wrong.”
“No we didn’t.” “Yes you did.” “No we didn’t.” “Yes you did.” “No we didn’t.” “Yes you did.”
And so it went, on and on, like most arguments, with each of us just restating our position but in slightly different terms. It ended with the inevitable macho stand-off, he’s going to report me to my Divisional Manager and I’m going to put in an official complaint about his decisions.

I’m not back on ‘days’ for a while so we’ll see if I get called into ‘the office’ for a dressing down. In the ambulance service all the managers stick together. It’s the weight of all those ‘pips’ on their shoulders; produces kyphosis which in turn causes compression of the logic circuits in the brain resulting in idiotic decisions. We’ve all seen it.

Rant over. I’m off for a double dose of my medication.


9 Responses to Control Loses the Plot

  1. kingmagic says:

    Oh how I recognise that!!!
    Sometimes “Control” is a contradiction in terms!
    You are right….”patient care” is coming a poor second to “response times”!!
    Get rid of AMPDS, and we might have a better chance of doing our jobs properly.
    I think every control in the country employs at least one numbnuts specifically to balls the job up!

  2. big-ashb says:

    wow, that sucks! and to think i actually want to leave the rat-race of big business to be an ambulance tech!

    as for arguments, you need to see the film “thank you for smoking”. it’s all about how to win an impossible argument, not by forcing your point, but by just proving that they’re wrong or discrediting their opinion.

  3. ecparamedic says:

    So it’s not just me then……….?

    The last time I had a set to with Control like this I suggested the DM went through the SOE on my call sign and requested the tapes.

    It went quiet after that…. I had been sorely dicked about that day by an EMD with PMT and even a half blind baboon could see it.

    Sadly we seem to employ some completely blind ones in amongst the good staff.


  4. Mart says:

    The thing is on this occasion it doesn’t sound like patient care came second to AMPDS times as if they hadn’t swapped you off the DIB to the U/C patient, and swapped the crew vice versa, then both jobs would have had a faster response!!

  5. Lol, you sounds like a paramedic mate of mine, always getting into trouble. You have my sympathy on the situation. Some people are just inadequate eejits, and oddly enough they are usually found in managers posts, I have no idea why…

  6. ecparamedic says:


    You see, that’s the silly thing, we get into trouble. We (mainly) joined the Ambulance service to provide the best possible standard of care for our patients. When we are prevented from doing this by numpties with a few dots and a computer programme we get frustrated.

    Because we get frustrated and try and change the situation we are in for our own mental health we are labeled as ‘negative’, ‘troublemakers’ or ‘resistant to change’.

    The irony is that generally we are none of those things, we just don’t happen to agree with people who have no idea about our jobs telling us how to do them.

    I would personally list a comittment to patient care, high standards of care and a desire to see my service do the job well, as characteristics that should be regarded as positive. Sadly in this world of ‘Alan Sugar Management’ such qualities are seemingly frowned upon.


  7. neenaw says:

    Poor Control! Actually, I do sympathise, there seems to have been some dicksplattery there with all the swapping around and saying the first crew were green when they weren’t. But in defence of Control, we don’t like AMPDS either and we’d prefer to use our common sense when giving out the calls… but we have the powers that be standing over us blathering about response times and if we put a lower priority call over a higher priority one, we get called into the office and given what for. If you could listen in to our conversations in Control, you’d know we’d be making much same complaints about AMPDS etc that you are…

  8. BananaHammock says:

    # Lola Cherry Cola Says:
    November 30th, 2006 at 9:59 pm

    Lol, you sounds like a paramedic mate of mine, always getting into trouble. You have my sympathy on the situation. Some people are just inadequate eejits, and oddly enough they are usually found in managers posts, I have no idea why…

    They’re promoted to their level of incompetence… ;o)

    Any chance we can swap Control Managers…? Yours sounds to be better than ours, believe it or not…! Never a working day goes by without me crossing paths with other crews, either green and available, or on the blues…

  9. I’ve basically been doing nothing to speak of. Basically nothing seems worth thinking about. I feel like a void, but that’s how it is. I’ve just been hanging out doing nothing.

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