Author Topic: Blue light use by private companies  (Read 12021 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline penfold1968

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Respect: 0
Blue light use by private companies
« on: March 09, 2010, 10:56:15 PM »
0
Hi all,

Been reading a few of the older threads re blues and twos on private ambulances, whether they need to be removed if on non emergency work etc etc, and thought i'd share my experience / interpretation. My company operates event medical & rescue cover as well as critical tissue transport. We have a liveried Freelander fitted with blues and siren, which as it has no stretcher facility we've had to tax as a PLG after many many discussions with those lovely people at DVLA. We also operate a rapid response motorbike, again liveried and fitted with blues and siren. This again has had to be taxed as a motorcycle due to the stretcher requirement.

Although a fair proportion of our work is on private land, we do cover events on the public roads, and do sometimes require to get from A to B in as quick - but safe - a way as possible. We have never covered or removed any of the emergency lights from either vehicle, as it's my understanding that we are using the vehicles 'for ambulance purposes', or for the 'transport of human organs' (which does include blood).

All our drivers hold advanced motorist qualifications, and the 2 bike riders hold IAM qualifications. All our vehicles are fully insured for blue light use, and carry public liability insurance.

The only time we've ever had an issue was in Newcastle last year when traffic police pulled our bike over more out of curiosity than anything else i think.

As far as I can see, there's no requirement in the RVLR that says an emergency vehicle stops being such when not actively engaged on the run.

We are actively considering seeking an Action of Declarator from the Court of Session up here in Scotland as to where our vehicles stand, and i'll obviously keep the forum posted about that.

I would finally say i'm all for bringing in a minimum standard for all blue light users, particularly in the ambulance sector, which i agree has more than its fair share of bad press over the years.

Offline Luke

  • Moderator
  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 7612
  • Looking at my wage slip,I pay most of my own wage!
  • Respect: +11
    • Free Text Messages
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2010, 10:34:36 AM »
0
Just out of curiosity what exemption would you claim for speed / lights / keep left bollards if you do any of these?

I may be an idiot;- but one thing I am not, Sir, is an idiot.

Offline Cresh

  • Moderator
  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 8624
  • Pretender of the Faith
  • Respect: +10
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2010, 11:16:13 AM »
0
Just out of curiosity what exemption would you claim for speed / lights / keep left bollards if you do any of these?

That's the biscuit.

From memory:

Exemptions as stated: "being used for ambulance purposes and observing [exempted activity] would hinder use for that purpose"

Blue lights fitted: "normally used for carrying sick/injured people"

Two different things.

Also note for exemptions, it must be currently used for ambulance purposes, but for blue lights, it just normally needs to be used for the purpose stated, so if it's not usually used for anything else I can't see any reason to cover them up.

Again, all from memory.
"Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, 'Hang the sense of it,' and just keep yourself occupied." ...  "I'd far rather be happy than right any day."

Offline swyddog ambiwlans

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
  • Respect: +26
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #3 on: March 10, 2010, 11:44:42 AM »
0
There was a case stated recently (can't find it at the moment) where the Police attempted to do one of these idiots who set up an "events" ambulance service.

He wasn't even a qualified Ambulance person, but a knob head with a FAAW certificate.

He had marked up a crappy old car with hi viz and blue lights.

He was caught using the car on the school run, picking up his daughter and the Police duly reported him.

It was thrown out of court and he continues to live in his dream world driving around with his "marked" vehicle.

It was a shame really, because WALTS like him are bringing the whole private Ambulance market into disrepute.


If someone were to stick blue lights on a private car with the words POLICE on them, then their feet wouldn't touch the ground.


It is high time that the same was made true for Ambulance vehicles so that those private services attempting to live by the same standard as the Emergency services are recognised and rewarded.


Wanabees and walts like this one are bringing the whole PRIVATE services into disrepute, there are just too many cowboy outfits out there unfortunately!
ALL MY OWN VIEWS BTW, so please don't bother looking for any stats!
 ;) ;)

Offline Standard Dave

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 1771
  • Respect: +14
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #4 on: March 10, 2010, 12:27:42 PM »
0
It's an interesting subject which has been debated many times before both here and on other driving, police and ambulance/ first aid forums.

The police markings and wording are protected by law like a number of other titles the problem with the Ambulance/ first aid sector is the lack of regulation a few titles doctor, nurse, Paramedic are protected but with no regulatory body for technicians, EMTs, first aid etc anyone can set up a company and claim to be an ambulance service.

The security sector is very similar except the option to add blue lights isn't there and the SIA was set up by the government a few years ago to licence indivduals and regulate companies involved in 6 specific areas of security work.

The Road safety act could have had to ability to sort all of this out by bringing in an exemptions training course but was watered down to the extent that it will only cover speed exemptions and has never been inacted and at present isn't going to be.
My opinion unlikely to be fact unless stated.
"all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing" Edmund Burke.
"the world is a dangerous place place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who do not do anything about it" Albert Einstein

Offline penfold1968

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Respect: 0
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #5 on: March 10, 2010, 03:06:07 PM »
0
Just out of curiosity what exemption would you claim for speed / lights / keep left bollards if you do any of these?

Whilst under blue light use, our drivers / riders are, just like any other emergency vehicle, allowed to pass on the wrong side of a keep left bollard and to treat a red TS as a give way. The speed issue is quite clear in law - only vehicles used for police, fire brigade or ambulance purposes are permitted to exceed the speed limit, though in practice we expect our crews to use their professional judgement.

We did look at licensing our vehicles as 'fire service vehicles', as both carry a variety of rescue equipment, including hydraulic cutters, but we felt since 95% of our work is medical this would be missusing the legislation.

I also share your frustrations cysgod-du - all our guys are qualified EMT's as a minimum, and most are qualified technicians. Each also holds a fire service RTA operator qualification. We're a reputable, professional organisation,  and it really pisses me off that any old joe bloggs can set themselves up as an ambulance service. Our kit and training cost a fortune, but to me there's no other option, peoples lives and welfare are far too important to take shortcuts with.




Offline Luke

  • Moderator
  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 7612
  • Looking at my wage slip,I pay most of my own wage!
  • Respect: +11
    • Free Text Messages
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2010, 10:41:49 PM »
0
And would you be satisfied that a court would hold your vehicle as an ambulance, or being used for ambulance purposes on the open roads if the poo hit the fan and someone was seriously injured and / or killed?

If it was an emergency that warranted blue light use and exemptions on a public road would the public ambulance not be contacted?

I may be an idiot;- but one thing I am not, Sir, is an idiot.

Offline mercury

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 586
  • Motorsport rescue escapee!
  • Respect: +3
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2010, 08:21:23 AM »
0
If it was an emergency that warranted blue light use and exemptions on a public road would the public ambulance not be contacted?

When I was doing rescue work we had planned ambulance meeting points where we would transfer a casualty to a 'normal' ambo - but if this would cause a delay in the eyes of the event doctor we were instructed to blast all the way to A&E. (it never happened to us, fortunately!)

Offline swyddog ambiwlans

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
  • Respect: +26
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2010, 08:50:34 AM »
0

We have encountered some nightmarish scenarios involving PAS and VAS covering events, but to be fair. most are now very compliant with IHCD principles, although we do get the odd "cowboy" handover now and again.

I had to recently investigate an instance where a "Private" ambulance stopped at the scene of an RTC and took a female patient to a local rural cottage hospital which did not have a trauma unit and was not equipped to deal with the patient.

The first we got to hear about it was when the hospital rang 999 panicking!

I rang the sister in charge back and she told me that the SINGLE manned private ambulance told her he had been flagged down by the Police and told to take the patient to hospital.

The Police however told a different story and said that he happened to stop at the scene and they actually thought he was an NHS "paramedic" but did think it odd that he was single manned and did not immobilize the patient, (It was a rollover RTC)


PAS and VAS can and do transport over public roads, but mainly from an event, but many will not convey past the gate of the event due to implications concerning patient liability and the fact that they have to continue to provide cover for the event.

 We currently have SJAB crews conveying GP urgent calls into hospital, but if the patient takes a turn for the worse, then they stop on the side of the road and we have to send an EMS crew to them.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 09:06:45 AM by cysgod-du »
ALL MY OWN VIEWS BTW, so please don't bother looking for any stats!
 ;) ;)

Offline swyddog ambiwlans

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
  • Respect: +26
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #9 on: March 11, 2010, 09:12:32 AM »
0
 I mean't to add too, it is all very well for an "event doctor" to dictate terms to crews, but it is NOT his licence that is at risk!  >:( :cop: :cop: :cop:
ALL MY OWN VIEWS BTW, so please don't bother looking for any stats!
 ;) ;)

Offline penfold1968

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Respect: 0
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #10 on: March 11, 2010, 10:09:35 AM »
0
And would you be satisfied that a court would hold your vehicle as an ambulance, or being used for ambulance purposes on the open roads if the poo hit the fan and someone was seriously injured and / or killed?

If it was an emergency that warranted blue light use and exemptions on a public road would the public ambulance not be contacted?

Luke, I take it from your responses that you're of the opinion that no-one but NHS trust AS should be allowed to use blues and twos? There are many properly and professionally run private ambulance and medic companies in this country, but the industry has unfortunately received criticism - some deserved, some not - for the cowboys in it. We're not all cowboys! If there was an accident involving one of our vehicles i would feel just as bad as the driver of a trust ambulance would! there are countless accidents every year involving 'public' ambulances, so I can only take it that you're saying we are somehow more likely to have an accident, presumably down to our 'sub NHS' standards? what about the bloodrunner charities, presumably you feel this is a job only the national blood service should carry out? would this also apply to non local authority fire services? if so, every airport in the country would have to shut and the taxpayers would be hit with the cost of siting a LAFS station at dozens of chemical plants, refineries, etc etc to replace the 'private' on site stations (and before anyone says 'but they're only on private land', thats often not the case as many sites are spread over huge areas with public roads and areas spread between them)...

Where you've got an event involving thousands of participants spread over a wide area, its unrealistic to expect a trust AS to have the equipment and manpower to respond to dozens of incidents, thats why we assist in managing the response. We have FULL liability and road insurance, and I would absolutely welcome an organisation similar to the SIA for licensing ambulance services and crews, it's long long overdue.

Don't tar us all with the same stick







Offline swyddog ambiwlans

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
  • Respect: +26
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #11 on: March 11, 2010, 10:54:49 AM »
0
I know that Luke can speak for himself, but I can’t see anywhere in his responses that could lead you to your conclusion that he has said that only NHS services should run on” blues and twos!”

I would suggest that as Luke is a VERY experienced Traffic Officer, you think carefully about the implications of his questions of liability before becoming defensive.

There is no getting away from the fact is that there are a number of well run PAS outfits out there, but because of the lack of regulation, there are an awful lot more BAD outfits.

One of the major problems is lack of standardisation of training and qualifications.

You mention that ALL your staff are trained to a minimum of “EMT” standard, but is that the same minimum IHCD standards required of the NHS services or as is more likely, is it a course tailored to the Private sector involving a minor FAAW qualification?

The IHCD is a MINIMUM of a 6 weeks course and a THREE weeks driving!


Because the “EMT” title is not protected, most PAS call their workers EMTs after a 5 DAY course with a half day driving course, or even call staff with nothing more than a first aid certificate an EMT. The standard falls well below that required of the Public sector EMTs, and that is a real concern.

Due to the "novelty" effect, many PAS staff use blues and twos in inappropriate circumstances, putting everyone at unnecessary risk, and this is what concerns Traffic Police like Luke, and believe me after a few weeks on front line duty, the "novelty" of using blues soon wears off!
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 11:05:17 AM by cysgod-du »
ALL MY OWN VIEWS BTW, so please don't bother looking for any stats!
 ;) ;)

Offline Cresh

  • Moderator
  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 8624
  • Pretender of the Faith
  • Respect: +10
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #12 on: March 11, 2010, 11:17:51 AM »
0
Whilst under blue light use, our drivers / riders are, just like any other emergency vehicle, allowed to pass on the wrong side of a keep left bollard and to treat a red TS as a give way. The speed issue is quite clear in law - only vehicles used for police, fire brigade or ambulance purposes are permitted to exceed the speed limit, though in practice we expect our crews to use their professional judgement.

I thought, and I can't check now, that all three exemptions were worded as "police, fire or ambulance purposes".  Except red light which is bomb disposal and blood service too. ???
"Perhaps I'm old and tired, but I always think that the chances of finding out what really is going on are so absurdly remote that the only thing to do is to say, 'Hang the sense of it,' and just keep yourself occupied." ...  "I'd far rather be happy than right any day."

Offline swyddog ambiwlans

  • TA Guru
  • *****
  • Posts: 2276
  • Respect: +26
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #13 on: March 11, 2010, 01:04:18 PM »
0
Yes Cresh, you are quite right BUT, it does not distinguish between publicly owned Ambulances or Privately owned therefore both PAS and VAS can claim exemptions under the "used for Ambulance Purposes."

There is no exclusivity for NHS Ambulance services alone!
ALL MY OWN VIEWS BTW, so please don't bother looking for any stats!
 ;) ;)

Offline penfold1968

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 27
  • Respect: 0
Re: Blue light use by private companies
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2010, 01:05:05 PM »
0
I have given the points Luke raises a great deal of thought, as it's not the first time they've been raised, not with regards to my business but to the industry in whole. It wasn't my intention to dismiss his opinion or experience, which i've no doubt comes from years of being on the front line. If i appeared defensive, it was mearly because I am sick and tired of the private industry getting a generalised bad name - some of us would welcome regulation and standardisation!

cysgod-du you asked what the qualification is. 3 of our staff are ex NHS technicians (1 Lecestershire and 2 Scottish Ambulance Service), 1 is ex SAS paramedic. The other 2 staff have completed the full residential 9 week technician course, including driving, but as you'll be aware, the IHCD (Edexel) qualification can only be awarded following 12 months service with a emergency call responding service. This makes it physically impossible for anyone who isn't working for an trust to gain the full qualification (thats my understanding anyway, and it was something I looked at extensively prior to starting the business). Additionally the RTC ops course is a weeks residential course at the fire service college. In addition to all of this, every 1 of them has an advanced driver qualification.

I do appreciate there are responsibilities that come with blue light use (which is used under strict guidelines), but i feel we've done all we can to make our staff as competent and safe as possible, and FAR more than we're required to by law.

I thought there was talk a couple of years ago about bringing in a minimum standard for blue light users anyway? or am I imagining it...

Apologies again to anyone if it appeared i was being dismissive.