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Tough decisions

Posted Oct 29 2010 5:03pm
I’ve been asked to comment on this article . Of course, being there on the day and having an active role in it, I have been following the enquiry very closely. I am used to hearing that we weren’t there when we were needed or that we were ‘too slow to arrive’ but, like every other mass casualty situation, there are elements in the event of the day that will never be understood by the general public, or in this case, supposedly panicking fire crews.

Now I wasn’t there to witness this particular exchange but if the paramedic has recorded it, then I have to assume it happened as he said. Nevertheless, regardless of the alleged arguments, the medic was correct; the first crew on scene must stay put and report back with casualty estimates, resources required, etc., otherwise, as they spend precious time dealing with injured people, others begin to die for lack of ambulances and paramedics. This a difficult task in the face of such a horrifying incident, so the paramedic who stuck to his guns deserved praise, not abuse. It must have been very hard for him to say no.

The military operate a system in war that saves those that can be saved – we do the same in scenarios like this; patients need to be triaged – sorted out in priority and if one patient is going to die while another could die but can be saved, then the higher priority is the latter, not the former. Otherwise ten dead people arrive at hospital because they could never have been saved, despite the best efforts of the crews, while ten more die needlessly because they lay waiting for immediate life-saving intervention. It’s a harsh reality.

Let me know what you think of the article and please, don’t get offended if you are a fire-fighter; this has nothing to do with the alleged exchange of words – the debate on the table is whether the Incident Officer role is fully understood, now that I’ve outlined it. Do you think the general public should be told all this? Do you think they’d want to know?

Be safe.
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