Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Solo-Responders: Broadwater Farm and Conservative Cuts

There is something - I'm not sure quite what - about today's announcement of proposed increases in "solo" paramedic ambulances that jogs my memory about the 1985 riots at Broadwater Farm and the ambulancing of PC Keith Blakelock and PC Richard Coombes to hospital.

The pair were unlucky to be separated from their colleagues in very fraught circumstances. Although they were ordinary bobbies they had gone to the riots to assist Firefighters who were under attack.

The nearest ambulance station to the site had been closed under Tory deep slashing of public service budgets.

Blakelock, who died of very serious multiple injuries, was carried to hospital in a private ambulance. This was driven and staffed by a moonlighting engineer and an administrator. Untrained personnel.

Coombes survived but only after a difficult journey to hospital care of a London Fire Service tender. As I recall this vehicle had to stop twice en route and ask directions to casualty.

The riots themselves arguably and certainly these misadventures en route to hospital were a direct result of a Dale-style Bonfire of the Services. Never again.

But in the meantime the case for and against increasing solo-responders - to further improve response times - must be examined carefully. All but one of the regional ambulance services have put forward detailed proposals along these lines. Any and all changes must be monitored closely.

1 comment:

Barnacle Bill said...

Firstly, I think it is very disingenuous of you Chris to throw the Broadwater Farm riots into this argument.
Where the problems lays is with the ambulance services having to meet the government's eight minute target.
Coupled with the under investment in actual ambulances.
Both problems occurring on NuLabor's watch.
For a better perspective of this from the actual front line read Random Acts Of Reality's take on it.