Sat-Nav Madness

Brentwood is in Essex – not Manchester

When I first applied to become an ambulance man I went through the application process with LAS. One of the tasks we were set was to demonstrate an ability to read a map. From what I recall we had to devise a route from Putney Common to St.Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton. Now I have no trouble with maps but this was a particular ‘no-brainer’ as I used to live in Putney and my dear, beloved grandmother lived in Roehampton; I could describe the route in detail without the aid of a map.

Nowadays we have satellite navigation; locally known as Doris-the-bitch. With the inevitable ‘push’ to meet our ORCON response times we are now discouraged from ever looking an address up in the map book but encouraged to rely blindly on Doris: The Times today carries an extreme example of what can happen:

Ambulance crew’s sat-nav howler

  • They drove 200 miles off course
  • Pair told to take geography lessons
  • P.S. For those who are curious, the LAS process took me 18 months. Before it was concluded my present county, who conducted all the application processes on the same day, offered me a job so I declined the offer from LAS.

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    5 Responses to Sat-Nav Madness

    1. kevinmillhill says:

      We do not have sat nav; it’s on the cards, but – like everything else in the ambulance world – don’t hold your breath. The EMDC have sat nav plotting of us, and postcode navigation. (Of course, things such as RTAs and fields do not have postcodes, so you’re on your own there anyway.) I’ve seen the plotting screens; they will put up OS Grid References no bother at all, and I make sure that we’ve always got the local maps in the cab.

      A constant problem, though, is trying to get someone (usually the younger female despatchers) just to GIVE ME A BLOODY GRID REF! Instead, the conversation goes:

      “Have you got Applethwaite Cottage plotted, Control?
      “That’s affirmative.”
      “Can you give me a grid reference, please?”
      “It’s along the B12345 towards Hackthorpe Wood”
      “I don’t know where the B12345, or Hackthorpe Wood are either; can you please give me a grid reference?”
      “Well, it’s about three miles north of where you are now.”
      “Can you just please give me a grid reference?”

      And so it goes on, tying up the dispatcher, and trying my patience. I think it arises from the fact that a lot of people aren’t that good at map reading. (In fact, one dispatcher actually told me so.)

      But you don’t have to be any good at map reading; all you have to do is to read two letters and eight digits off the screen.

      And one lass, bless her socks said “Oh, is that what they are!?”

    2. Adam says:

      Surely after about 30 minutes driving they should have realised something was wrong with their directions? Or their control, when they hadn’t arrived at their destination after a reasonable amount of time?

    3. As a local to Brentwood, I must say that Mascalls Park Hospital is not terribly well known.
      That being said, I am familiar with King George’s in Ilford, and because of its location on the outskirts of London, and the potential to travel from it to a number of other hospitals in near-ish vicinity, you’d think someone would have said “So, then. This Mascall’s Park, then. How long will it take us to get there?”

      I hate sat nav. It lies.
      Much prefer the map books.
      And I’m a woman!

    4. I’ve just looked up Mascall’s Park Hospital. I now understand why I’ve never heard of it. Round these parts its known as Warley Psychiatric Hospital, or more usually “Warley”. As in, “They’ve put him in Warley”.
      How very strage that in a town which belongs to Essex County Council, it has a North East London NHS Trust. Weird.

    5. BananaHammock says:

      Sat Nav sucks…our particular system thinks that there are two M1 motorways…one of them being the real M1, and the other being the A1(M)…

      “Please turn left at the junction you passed five seconds ago…”

      The only thing it’s fit for it to freak out the map-illiterate trainee Techs with, by changing the language to French…

      “S’il vous plaît tourner la gauche prochaine, et a continué à suivre la route…”

      (Although “she” sounds quite sexy in Italian…)

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