Mobile hospitals hailed 'success'
So says one of the headlines in this mornings BBC News that I'm reading off their rss feed. It goes on to say, "Mobile casualty units to help deal with the problem of drunk and injured revellers during the party season were a "huge success", medics said. The field-style hospitals were launched in Cardiff and Swansea for Black Friday - one of the year's busiest nights as many offices shut for Christmas.
All very well and good, except for one thing. Aren't they doing exactly what part of the voluntary sector are doing? Specifically Saint John Ambulance Brigade, the men and women who give their own time, and sometimes money too, to undergo voluntary training in first aid and emergency life-saving skills, are re-examined annually, and then attend various events where they are invited by the organisers and provide 'first aid cover'. They are also trained to use the equipment on board ambulances, which also include defibrillator machines which can help to restart a heart after it has stopped beating, and then crew their own ambulances too. If they think that one of their casualities needs further treatment, beyond their skills and capacity, then they are taken to their nearest Accident and Emergency department. Saint John Ambulance has been providing their skills for over 100 years now, and were the forerunner of todays NHS Ambulance Service
I find it rather strange that the news media should be picking up on the Ambulance Service co-operating with the nurses and doctors to provide 'emergency medical centres' i.e. field hospitals, and talking about it as if it is a new idea. Having spent over thirteen years with Saint John Ambulance, and attending many events and dealing with many different casualties I feel rather upset with the latest 'new idea' trumpeted by the media. Although I am no longer a member of Saint John Ambulance I know that their members will have been out on duty last night, as they will be when requested by the civil authorities come wind, rain, hail, sleet or snow. And I also know it from the NHS side of things too, being a former Staff Nurse in a NHS hospital.
To my mind, Saint John Ambulance Brigade are the fourth emergency service, whatever the Automobile Association would like you to believe in their adverts.