Tension between ambulance centre and Lake District rescuers
Last updated at 14:15, Tuesday, 03 July 2012
Tensions between mountain rescue teams and ambulance call operators need to be addressed as a “matter of urgency”, a new report claims.
Eighteen months ago, the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSAMRA) commissioned an appraisal of mountain rescue in the region.
It was hoped Rescue 2020 could develop a “forward-looking appraisal” of mountain rescue in Cumbria, to help develop it.
The report, published yesterday, identified tensions between the rescue crews and ambulance service as one of the top priorities to be resolved.
It says: “There is a need to ensure much speedier deployment of mountain rescue teams when an off-road or mountain incident requires their expertise.
“The repeated delays and inappropriate tasking of ambulance assets that have taken place for several years, and the resulting tensions that clearly exist, especially between the ambulance and mountain rescue services, have to be eliminated.
“This is a multi-agency problem and one that requires a multi-agency solution. It is timely that, under the chairmanship of Cumbria Constabulary, CSAR (Ops) has been established, which can pursue the issue.”
It concludes: “We recommend this committee takes these matters forward as a matter of urgency.”
Richard Warren, chairman of LDSAMRA, said the review highlighted a problem which had been ongoing for a number of years, but quickly pointed out that it was with call operators, not paramedics.
“We get on very well with the ambulance crews,” he insisted.
“The area where the tension lies relates to when we have an incident that is away from the road. We know that theambulance service is a statutory body and has certain things it has to do by law relating to response times.
“They have had a difficulty though over many years intrying to understand where the casualty’s location is.”
Mr Warren said this has meant mountain rescue teams are sometimes not alerted until an ambulance has arrived at a scene, or the air ambulance realises it cannot land.
“In the worst case scenario,” he added, “this could be a delay of 20 minutes.”
It had been questioned by some mountain rescue volunteers whether the problem came about following the centralisation of the ambulance call centre operation.
LDSAMRA and the North West Ambulance Service have been meeting, and the service has agreed to trial a system called SARCALL.
This is run by the mountain rescue organisation and is already used by Cumbria Police. It allows call operators to input the patient’s area into a computer and immediately be told the mountain rescue team which covers that area, and the ability to mobilise that team.
A spokeswoman for the ambulance service said: “The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) is aware of the Rescue 2020 report and has met with representatives of LDSAMRA to discuss its findings.
“The belief that ‘tensions’ exist between the two parties is a perceptual one and has not been evidenced within NWAS.
“We agree that if this is the view of some LDSAMRA volunteers, then we must assist in changing that perception and this was the focus of our recent meeting with the organisation.”
However, the spokeswoman said the relocation of the control centre was nothing to do with this issue.
Overall, the review identified nine areas where it felt recommendations could be made.
First published at 11:28, Tuesday, 03 July 2012
Published by http://www.newsandstar.co.uk
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