back to article Cycling paramedics in epic rush to save patient who ate stale sandwich

Cancel Independence 3 and put Episode VIII on hold. Hollywood need look no further than the London Ambulance Service’s Cycle Response Team for next year’s summer blockbuster, after its Twitter feed revealed the gritty reality of saving East London while balanced on two wheels. The bike-based team revealed yesterday that its …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Excellent job folks

    I'm sure they're doing an excellent job, like all our wonderful NHS paramedics. Pity about the idiots they have to go to.

    One question though, how do they balance a stretcher on a bike?

    1. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Excellent job folks

      They can fashion something together, get a bit of rope and some skateboards and walla

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Excellent job folks

        Char wallah? :)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Excellent job folks

        "walla"

        I REALLY hope that was part of the troll,

        1. ricardian

          Re: Excellent job folks

          Yes - "Only fools & horses"...

    2. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Excellent job folks

      how do they balance a stretcher on a bike?

      There's obviously no room on the carrier with those monster panniers, so presumably the patient rides on the crossbar, or perhaps the handlebars.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Excellent job folks

      They do not - their job is to stabilize the patient until a proper transportation method arrives. Same as those Landy, Ford Mondeo or Honda CRV ambulances NHS started using lately.

      While they cannot transport the patient they can get to it much faster that the 4 ton re-purposed sandwich van.

      Bicycle (or one of the small cars) can still carry CPR kit, key medications, oxygen, etc. Enough for a good paramedic to keep you alive until the cavalry relieves him.

      Yeah, I know, it is supposed to be a joke :) However, as someone who has been "serviced" by one of these flying stabilization teams on the M25 kerb, when you are on the receiving end you do not quite appreciate the humor.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Excellent job folks

        looks like it will be hard to do a backie so its on the handlebars.

      2. Known Hero

        Re: Excellent job folks

        Yeah, I know, it is supposed to be a joke :) However, as someone who has been "serviced" by one of these flying stabilization teams on the M25 kerb, when you are on the receiving end you do not quite appreciate the humor.

        Umm pedal bikes are not allowed on the M25 ....

        1. Montreal Sean

          Re: Excellent job folks

          "Umm pedal bikes are not allowed on the M25 ...."

          Sure they are, they just have to pedal really fast.

      3. Tabor

        Re: Excellent job folks

        "While they cannot transport the patient they can get to it much faster that the 4 ton re-purposed sandwich van."

        Said sandwich van, upon arriving, would probably also have added to the distress of the first patient...

      4. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

        Re: Excellent job folks

        @Voland Come on are we not allowed to laugh and joke about anything anymore?

        Personally a bicycle can get to areas much faster and I have no issue with that.

      5. NotBob

        Re: Excellent job folks

        This is why we added the "vanbulance". Ambulance shrunk into something like a sprinter or minivan footprint. Crowded as all get out to treat patients, and crap in snow, but great for small roads and such.

    4. Fungus Bob Silver badge

      Re: Excellent job folks

      "how do they balance a stretcher on a bike?"

      Duct tape.

      1. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: Excellent job folks

        @ Fungus Bob

        Duct tape is always the correct answer. To every question.

        1. CanadianMacFan

          Re: Excellent job folks

          Unless you are taping ducts. That's the only exception. Then you use foil tape.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Excellent job folks

      One question though, how do they balance a stretcher on a bike?

      They'd put wheels on the stretcher and tow it.

    6. CanadianMacFan

      Re: Excellent job folks

      They get two bikes and while each one is riding near a side of the lane they have the stretcher tied across the panniers.

    7. WalterAlter
      Coat

      Next: Gardening emergencies.

      Save the orchid.

  2. J. R. Hartley Silver badge

    A stale sandwich?

    Oh crumbs!

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: A stale sandwich?

      Noone mentioned what sort of sandwich. Was it a mayo sandwich? Had it been in the fridge or on the floor? Did they have cold pizza with it? Cold kebab? Details man! Call yourself a journalist?

  3. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    WTF?

    A Stale sandwich

    is the least of this persons worries, it sounds like they have a stale brain.

  4. Tromos

    About time 999 calls were charged at 500 pounds, refundable in actual cases of emergency. It would either stop misuse of resources or fund extra resources, a rare win-win situation.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Tromos

      My heart agrees. My head says that the problem is there are also too many of the other sort, elderly (mostly) people who already don't call an ambulance when they should - and would be further frightened off by the prospect of a big fine.

      Or the people who aren't sure if they are having a heart attack, when they get chest pain.

      And OTOH there are the ones who won't give a toss because they haven't got any assets.

      1. Chris Harden

        If you did a blood test and charged £1000 if you found booze you would get the same effect, but limit the splash damage.

        Of course having an ID and linking the test to said ID, then charging £1000 on the SECOND time would probably generate the same income but limit the splash damage even further.

        1. Alan Ferris

          Err....

          Do you think that there's never been a case of someone having a heart attack over dinner, when a glass (or even two) of wine has been imbibed?

        2. Alan Ferris

          Err...

          Do you think that no-one has had a heart attack after a dinner that included a glass of wine?

          Could be one of the most expensive glasses of wine that Tesco ever sold.

      2. H in The Hague Silver badge

        "My head says that the problem is there are also too many of the other sort, elderly (mostly) people who already don't call an ambulance when they should "

        Yup. Got a call from an elderly friend last Friday. Dashed over there, discovered he was having a heart attack (not sure about the technical term), called an ambulance. When an hour later in the cardiac unit (artery defurred and stent placed) I asked him why he hadn't called an ambulance the response was "I didn't want to be a bother." Anyway looks like he'll make a full recovery.

    2. Andy Non Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Well it would certainly eliminate the calls from those who are elderly or those living on very low incomes; just in case their "urgency" wasn't regarded as such. Just think how much it would save the NHS if more of these people simply died in their homes.

      1. d3vy Silver badge

        Actually, if you die at home it costs MORE.

        Not just for transportation but you would be considered an unexplained death and the police would investigate (even if that was resolved in 5 minutes and a "he was 90 years old and died in his sleep, its not suspicious" they still need to get involved.

        Same in care homes, in casses of unexplained death the police have to attend and investigate.

        So its cheaper for the NHS if you can roll up, declare your intention to snuff it (Preferably with a DNR in hand) then keel over somewhere near the mortuary.

    3. DailyLlama
      FAIL

      There needs to be proper communication though - my girlfriend has twice rung NHS direct about something, and was told to go to Accident and Emergency to get it seen to. After being treated, she was sent letters both times telling her that A&E was for emergencies only, and that she should ring NHS direct for treatment next time.

      1. Locky Silver badge

        I believe they are known as "NHS Divert" within the industry

      2. Adrian Midgley 1

        NHS Dire is a bit antique ...

        and was actually beginning to get the hang of it when it was closed and 111 was intermediated into all ways of seeking help.

        I suppose in 5 years the cycle may repeat.

      3. MrXavia

        "After being treated, she was sent letters both times telling her that A&E was for emergencies only, and that she should ring NHS direct for treatment next time."

        I've had similar incidences, but not actually been given a letter... just said why did you come to A&E, to which my reply was "NHS direct told me to"

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          we had a similar thing. Wife had an asthma attack, blue inhaler wasn't working. Phoned 999 as I'd been drinking so couldn't drive (she hadn't). Ambulance had nebulizer so after 30 mins she wasn't doing too bad, but they took her to hospital anyway. They had supposed to do the handover at hospital but she sat (walking patient) in the corridor waiting. Eventually after an hour she was sternly told that it wasn't an AnE thing and didn't accept an ambulance brought her. The £500 thing would be a fecking disaster.

          1. IsJustabloke
            WTF?

            @danny 14

            As a life long asthma suffering and having had many trips to A&E both under my own steam and in the back of an ambulance, I do not believe you.

            In fact more often than not I have been told the exact opposite ie "do not hesitate, call and ambulance and come to A&E"

            An uncontrolled asthma attack is life threatening and is considered a perfectly valid reason to call an ambulance and visit A&E.

      4. d3vy Silver badge

        "There needs to be proper communication though - my girlfriend has twice rung NHS direct about something, and was told to go to Accident and Emergency to get it seen to. After being treated, she was sent letters both times telling her that A&E was for emergencies only, and that she should ring NHS direct for treatment next time."

        Conversely my mother in law called them back in 2006 and was advised to wait and make an appointment with her GP because they determined her symptoms to not be an emergency. She died of meningitis a few days later.

    4. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      FAIL

      May you never get old

      and frail and have a fall. Then lie in the cold for 24Hours and be unwilling to call 999 in case you get fined more than a months Pension.

      Sure some 999 calls are totally stupid and the people making them should be put in the stocks for a week but when you get old or infirm then calling 999 is all there is between you and death.

    5. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Do you have a life threatening condition?

      Now, let's assume for a second that you have allergy to gluten, peanuts, nuts, shellfish or something else of the sort. Let us for sake of argument assume that you have it at a level where if you do not get professional medical treatment you will be dead in 10 minutes. That can happen from allergy to any one of these (even gluten - a few rye crumbs or someone spraying the roast with beer while cooking can make you violently sick, more can kill you).

      You eat something, you start feeling iffy. You have _NO_ clue whatsoever if it will be so bad in 10 minutes that you will be in a comatose state. You call 112. By the time they get to you, you realize that it is a false alert.

      So, 500£? I would not be so sure. Fining people who deliberately waste emergency services time - yes. This is an offense, can be proved in court, put the evidence in front of a magistrate and nail 'em. Charging a deposit just to deploy an ambulance, police car or a fire engine - that is wrong.

      1. qwertyuiop

        Re: Do you have a life threatening condition?

        On a point of pedantry, if you are genuinely allergic to gluten (actually it's an intolerance not an allergy) then eating something that contains gluten is NOT life threatening. You ARE going to have an unpleasant 24 - 48 hours afterwards and will be unwell for another 3 - 6 months but you are NOT going to die. I speak as somebody who was diagnosed with Coeliac disease 25 years ago and who has been following a gluten-free diet ever since. (Don't get me started on hipsters who choose to follow a gluten-free diet...)

        But otherwise, yes, I agree with you.

    6. splodge

      I love it when you ring 111 and they tell you to ring 999, which is what has happened pretty much every time.

      Then you get a letter telling you you've called 999 too many times...

    7. Smooth Newt
      Mushroom

      RE: About time 999 calls were charged at 500 pounds

      About time 999 calls were charged at 500 pounds, refundable in actual cases of emergency. It would either stop misuse of resources or fund extra resources, a rare win-win situation.

      It would also kill a lot of people. e.g. She seemed a bit confused and started having trouble speaking. I didn't know what it was, but I didn't call an ambulance because I couldn't really afford £500 on the off-chance and I thought it was probably nothing anyway.

    8. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      @Tromos, that would result in: 1) people with less than £500 in the bank would not be able to make use of the emergency services and 2) lots of things that you and I might consider to be an emergency would be rated as a non-emergency by the money-grabbing authorities, which would then result in 3) people with serious injuries or symptoms being too frightened to call 999 in case it turns out to be harmless and they won't be able to afford food for the next 3 months.

      And if I were to see someone climbing through the window of your house at 2 A.M. while you are on holiday, there's no way I would call the police. It might turn out to be a relative returning from a late night party and has lost their key - then I'd be down half a grand.

  5. astrax

    Working title "The Sandwiching"

    Starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr Strange Pedal, Bill Murray as The Man Who Ate Too Little, Hayden Christensen as Hayden Christensen and of course Kristen Stewart as the Stale Sandwich.

    Still a better love story than Twilight.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Sarcasm

    You highlight the idiots that waste the time of paramedics. Good.

    But mostly it reads like you are taking the piss out of the "First responders" ( as the Americans call them) themselves, because they get through the city on bikes.

    I wonder if you'd be quite so chippy if you were stuck out of reach of an ambulance with a broken limb or some other nasty injury.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Sarcasm

      Perhaps they over-egged the tone of the article a bit, but all I took away was that there are rather stupid people who dial 999 for ridiculous reasons (as we all know), and our paramedics have to attend before going back to their "normal" duties of attending more serious callouts.

  7. Chris Harden

    Range of use

    Was that sarcasm there? Don't mock the cycle paramedics - it's about range of facility.

    Sending out a paramedic on a bike is a damn sight cheaper than sending a fully kitted out, expensive ambulance with full EMT crew aboard - better to send a bike to check on the guy who ate a sandwich than said ambulance.

    For example, nut allergy sufferer (me) goes in to anaphylactic shock a motor bike (it was ten years ago, they didn't have the push bikes then) can speed up and apply drugs while we wait for the ambulance. mmmdrugs.

    Think 1st, 2nd and 3rd line IT support - this is an IT rag right?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Range of use

      I had a look at their Twitter feed and there are several cases where they were first at the scene due to having a bike. I think they deserve some admiration, not least for cycling in London being part of their job!

    2. Steve Evans
      Thumb Up

      Re: Range of use

      Not only cheaper, but quicker... I regularly see 4 wheel ambulances stuck in queues of traffic attempting to negotiate a path past drivers who are either deaf, blind or stupid (probably all three, I'm usually in East London). A two wheeler (bike or motorbike) is a lot more flexible, and in the case of a pedal bike, can always use the pavement when confronted by incredibly stupid car drivers.

      (I'm sure a motorcycle could use the pavement at a push too, but they're not so easy to get up the curbs).

      Sure they can't carry as much equipment as a "Big" ambulance, but first on scene doesn't need all that. They can carry enough to stem bleeding, restart hearts, clear airways and get the patient stabilised with plenty of pain relief drugs whilst the "Big" ambulance is still fighting its way through the mini-cabs.

      So to the gallant two wheelers, motorised or pedalled, I salute you.

      1. thegroucho
        Go

        Re: Range of use

        Have you seen that episode of can't-remember-the-name-of-the-TV-programme where the bike paramedic (as motorbike, not as bicycle) got all the way in the middle of Birmingham New Street train station? If memory serves he got all the way to the middle of the pedestrian bridge between the platforms.

        Not to mention seeing them under blue lights splicing 3 miles of rush hour town traffic in 5 minutes (that is jumping red lights, having to wait for drivers who fail to see/hear, trying to do it safely so they don't get hurt themselves or hurt members of the public) - phenomenal!

        I must clarify I am not trying to belittle the bicycle variety - hats off to them too!

      2. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: Range of use

        (I'm sure a motorcycle could use the pavement at a push too, but they're not so easy to get up the curbs).

        Not sure about the first response bikes used in the UK, but over here they tend to be the large allroads: BMW R1200GS, Honda Varadero, Yamaha Tenere. A fairly usable combination of carrying capacity and agility. Add some Advanced Rider courses to that and London curbstones shrink to a minor nuisance.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Range of use

          I propose the following solution for curb hopping:- Yamaha WR250R. Might need a backpack instead of panniers though :)

        2. Steve Evans

          Re: Range of use

          Just for clarity, I do actually ride a motorcycle (a proper big one), my comment about curbs was really that the ease of mounting a curb with a heavy equipment laden motorcycle is very dependant on your angle of attack. If you can approach it at 90 degrees, no problem (just not too fast or you'll wreck the wheel rim!). However, if you've just been squeezed out of space whilst running parallel to the curb, you're not going to get a heavy motorcycle to go up it (a nice light trail bike could be bounced on the front shock, but not a fully loaded paramedic motorcycle!), it'll just glance off. A pedal bike can be manually lifted with a single foot down and a quick *heave*.

          And no, I'm got going to go and experiment with my motorcycle to find at which angle the "easy" becomes "Oh bugger, whoops, oh no oh no oh no" *crunch*

          "Excuse me, can someone help lift this thing off me, it's heavy!!!"

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Range of use

            For sure, straight-on is the way to go, surprising what size obstacles a decent big bike can lumber gently over even if heavily loaded, a little momentum helps to overcome lack of traction over smooth objects like curbs! If anyone ever wanted to know what a big bike does when it is not going fast enough to self-balance, try forgetting about a front disc lock while having a few degrees of steering angle on getting out of a parking space... !

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Range of use

      It is not question of cheap

      Try sending an ambulance to downtown London, Cambridge, Oxford or Bristol in mid-summer.

      By the time it gets to the casualty said casualty is likely to be merrily kicking the bucket.

  8. PhilipN Silver badge

    Swiss Mountain Patrol

    Don't the Swiss Police or Army maintain a mountain bike division (i.e. a bike division up in the Swiss Alps)?** Seem to recall the bikes are solidly built so the bloke in the saddle must have legs like an elephant.

    ** Just checked and the first results threw up a Facebook page or two so I am not going to place the link here. FB can F.O.

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

      The Swiss Army had a bicycle regiment until 2001, but it was decided that the gains in mobility weren't that great compared to the overhead in maintaining such a force. The bikes weighed 65kg with all equipment, so they weren't that fast. They were notionally air-transportable, but there weren't enough helicopters available to move the whole regiment. Vehicle transport was faster and more efficient overall.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1325485.stm

    2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

      Not forgetting the British Army Cyclist Corps in WW1, which had 14 battalions. And they didn't get sexy lightweight carbon fibre mountain bikes with a zillion gears.

      1. collinsl

        Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

        The first British soldier killed by enemy action (disputed) in WW1 was a reconnaissance cyclist - John Parr:

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Parr_%28British_Army_soldier%29

        The dispute is whether he was killed by friendly fire or by enemy action.

    3. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

      Driving down the Swiss side of the St Bernard Pass (IIRC) a few years ago, we met the cycling Swiss soldiers coming up. I was stunned with admiration.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Swiss Mountain Patrol

        did you get your d and b mixed up? That brings up a whole different set of "swiss army"

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Use your loaf don't dial 999 unless it's an emergency.

    1. astrax

      Go to the bloody walk-in centre, it's their bread & butter.

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Only go to the walk-in centre if you want to catch something.

  10. Chris G Silver badge
    Pint

    Got to admire

    Anyone who is willing to race through London on a bicycle to save a life while risking their own.

    Many emergencies don't require much more than an experienced person with some training and a basic kit , plus the knowledge to know where to refer a patient if necessary.

    Have a beer when you get off your bikes guys!

  11. Unep Eurobats
    Happy

    Love it

    More power to their pedals.

  12. Dave 32
    Pint

    Be Careful Out There

    Be careful out there, guys and gals. We lost one of our paramedics not too long ago in a tragic traffic accident. The dangers of being on a bicycle must multiply that significantly.

    http://www.lex18.com/story/30466581/jessamine-county-paramedic-dies-escorted-home

    Dave

  13. ben kendim

    You'll take any kind of ambulance - when you need it urgently

    My wife fell and broke her ankle in Positano on the Amalfi coast, right down by the beach, 200 feet below the main roadway. The Italian Red Cross showed up in a "Triporteur Piaggio Ape 401" (think Inspector Clouseau as phone repairman), put her on a stretcher across the back, with me next to her, and we went put-putting in the labyrinths up to the road - where there was a big ambulance waiting... A lot more efficient (and quicker) than a boat or helicopter...

    (You haven't lived until you have ridden in an ambulance on the Amalfi coastal highway to the hospital in Sorrento. On arrival you will see "Game Over" flashing in your mind...)

  14. Agincourt and Crecy!

    Those were the days

    I used to be a Paramedic and nothing surprises me any more.

    The drunk dad who called 999 on a bank holiday because his son had been stung by a wasp. The son was fine and very apologetic.

    The couple who called saying the husband had chest pain and wanted to be taken to a specific A&E close to their home, nothing on his ECG so we took him to the nearest A&E to where they called us from, 10 miles further away from their home address and costing them much more for the taxi home they thought they would avoid by getting a lift to the A&E near their house.

    Every one of these were wasting time and potentially risking the life of someone really ill. Would I charge for an ambulance to prevent time wasters? Not a chance, too many vulnerable people would simply not call when they needed to out of fear of the cost. Charging is a stupid idea that ranks with the idiots making stupid calls.

    1. NotBob

      Re: Those were the days

      That's part of why insurance here only pays mileage to the nearest hospital (or nearest 2 when between them)

  15. Havin_it

    Own up:

    You latched onto this story as it gave you an excuse to make (and photograph) a double Decker fried egg and ketchup sarnie, didn't you? Or do you expect me to believe you had that on file waiting for the perfect story?

    #Need a "chinny reckon" icon

  16. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    So, these twitter accounts...

    ...that all our "services" seem to be running, do anyone other than journalist actually follow them? Or is this for their own benefit to save them writing up reports when they get back to base. Eg, end of day report "See Twitter account".

    I don't have a twitter account so can't "follow" any of the thousands of businesses and organisations I deal with over a year, no matter how many times they ask me to in adverts, catalogues, newsletters, websites etc, but if I did, would I have any time left over to have a life? If it's anything like our company Yammer, it's rare for there to be anything actually useful in the feed, in amongst all the daily inanities and general "I'm doing my job everybody, look at me!" (Yes, I'm looking at *you* sales and marketing people. With a very stern look!)

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