An extra minute for ambulance call staff

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EMERGENCY call handlers for the ambulance service in the East of England are to get an extra minute to obtain details from 999 callers.

From June 1, staff in the East of England Ambulance emergency call centre will get the extra 60 seconds ‘triage’ time on Red 1 calls, which currently have to be responded to within eight minutes. At present the countdown to the response time target starts immediately the call is answered.

The move means there should be fewer incidents of two vehicles being dispatched to a single emergency.

Currently, an ambulanbce and rapid response vehicle can be sent out at the same time as the response vehicle can arrive more quickly. However, one fifth of these responses end up with one vehicle being cancelled en route wasting vital resources.

However, in cases where time is vital, such as cardiac arrests, ambulances will be dispatched immediately.

The new timeframe has been introduced by the Department of Health, which has also said that ambulance services must show by next April that they are reaching 80 per cent of Red 1 calls within eight minutes instead of the current 75 per cent target.

The move is expected to save 500,000 wasted ambulance journeys nationwide and potentially 150 patient lives.

Gary Applin, Unison branch secretary, said this was a welcome move enabling staff to make better use of their time and skills.