Selfishness and/or Ignorance…!?!?!?


This report on a woman blocking in an Ambulance on an emergency call prompted me to relate some of the things I have personally had to endure. The gentleman in the report died of a heart attack whilst his neighbour blocked the ambulance in. She was fined £5oo!

In my job most of the time people do get out of our way and will make reasonable efforts to help us. But, and this is getting worse, more and more seem to be in their own little world where everybody else is not to be considered. I have to contend with idiots who will not pull over to let us past when on ‘Blues & Twos’ and with drunks who get in the way of us treating  patients who havebeen assaulted.

A Good Public Information Film

(Although I cant understand why the Paramedic is being treated by a Fireman and then put into a fire engine?)

I had the not so nice experience of being shouted at and sworn at by a taxi driver to get my ambulance out of the way whilst I and my crew mate were doing CPR on a patient in a house! Only when the taxi driver actually walked in to the house to continue his verbal attack on us did he realise what we were doing…and he still then walked off muttering and grumbling!!! 

We are now covered by the  ‘Emergency Workers Obstruction Act 2006’  which gives us some protection but until people start getting prosecuted and it gets made public we are still going to see an increase in this sort of behaviour. As I said earlier most of the time people are good…but it is noticeable that more and more are becoming less tolerant towards us. Is that as a result of the culture we are now living in? This country is becoming increasingly more and more angry and frustrated. This leads to more assaults on us…and sooner, rather than later, one of us will be killed!

But that will be okay…just so long as the taxi driver gets to his next job, or the woman gets to walk her dogs, or the car being driven by the businessman is not delayed, or the customer can get his newspaper whilst we continue CPR on the floor of the newsagents, or the middle aged man can reach over us and get his tin of beans off the shelf in the supermarket whilst again we are doing CPR on a patient!!!

Another Good Public Information film (we don’t see enough of them)

We need more patience from people but that has to be thrust into some peoples faces…just to make them take notice! By that I mean we need more prosecutions and more education. Just to reinforce the selfishness and ignorance of some people that we come across…I was actively resuscitating a baby in my arms trying to get past the crowd of people in the A/E department but was hindered by a couple who were complaining of having to wait so long to see a doctor! They could see me struggling to get past them whilst performing mouth to mouth and nose on the baby! Luckily another member of the public dragged them out of the way!

I would like to hear your thoughts and suggestions on how to deal with this and if you have come across this culture of selfishness yourself?


21 Responses to Selfishness and/or Ignorance…!?!?!?

  1. Bendy Girl says:

    Hey Big Bro,
    That 1st video isn’t working, but is it from Mischief Night in L’pool? If so it was something to do with expected attacks on emergency services, although apparently the PR work the fire brigade have since done has greatly reduced the problem.
    I think you’re right, some ppl are being more selfish. Whilst my new neighbours put my wheelie bins out and bring them in for me every week, and washed my car windows at the w’d, I was crossing the road last week and for the 1st time a (female) driver looked at me wobbling and deliberately increased her speed. Like that’ll help anyone get out of her way!
    I think this attitude comes from the idea that ‘everyone does it’ which is what I was told by the hospital today about having an ambulance I don’t need. Sigh.
    Keep safe out there, lil sis Xx

  2. piratedani says:

    this is awful. come of living in a ‘me first’ culture, being told that ‘we are worth it’ and that ‘we deserve it’ all the time.
    Bring back old british values I say. Others first and no meddeling. Open doors for others and say thankyou to other road users. Interestingly enough, I had a speeding police man say thanks to me yesterday. I was dead grateful. He had been speeding towards me on the wrong side of the road, and I had stopped with no where to go. One of those awful moments where you know there isnt a thing I could do if he didnt slow down. Anyway, hes passed his adv drivers ed, I havent.

    Reading your post, I have come up with LOADS of great comebacks you could come out with. Unfortunatly, they are all heavely laced with sarcasm, and insinuate that the party to whom they are directed are selfish, stupid, unintelligent, chavs, dirty, inhumane, scum of the earth, and generally a horrible person. Obviously, not in so many words. But, I have the feeling that your boss may not be pleased with such comebacks, and some of them could end up with law suits. Not good at all. Darn americans.

    so… just smile sweetly and say ‘sue me’ then ignore them.
    Then come here and tell us all about it so that we can all mentally beat them for their stupidity.

  3. Stuart says:

    It’s the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service video – can find it on youtube here:

    I bet if the ambulance staff involved in any obstruction cases were to ask in a rather impolite manner, instead of “Would you mind moving? Terribly sorry to cause inconvenience!” they’d be the ones disciplined due to a complaint…

  4. kingmagic says:

    Lil sis…I thought our mam said to keep the stabilisers on the push iron?

    Your right about the ‘everybody does it’ attitude and thats what needs to be addressed by high profile cases. Big bro x

    piratedani…the normal comeback I have for chavs who say ‘I pay your wages!’ is ‘…and I pay your benefits!’ x

    Stuart…thanks, I did not notice the disable embed bit on the youtube thingy.

    Ask any Ambulance Paramedic/Technician in the country and they will all say that we are easier to get rid of than addressing the real problem of abuse from patients and members of the public!
    It is still a management option at the forefront of their thinking when dealing with complaints. Thats why we tend to make sure we are squeaky clean…or no one sees or hears us when having to deal with a knob head creatively!

  5. I am reading that article about the woman blocking the ambulance in total disbelief. I hope she stews in the joint for a good while, all the time contemplating just how many different kinds of stupid she was. Dumb cow.

    If this had happened in NYC, I know plenty of medics that would have taken their bus (what we called our ambulances) and rammed her car out of the way.

  6. Rob says:

    Deliberately obstructing the emergency services is one thing. I’m sure there are idiots who do it, but I’d also like to think that most members of the public would try and prevent this where possible.

    However, in England, it is illegal to cross a red light for an ambulance. Stupid, but it went to the court of appeals and that was the conclusion. I doubt the police would do anything if they saw you, but you won’t get off a red light camera ticket.

    With this kind of attitude from the state, I don’t see public attitudes changing any time soon.

  7. Rach says:

    Just today I pulled over for an Ambo coming in the other direction, only for the prick behind me to over take me and almost drive head on into the Ambo, obviously Ambo took evasive action and missed him.

    There are too many people on the road who aren’t concentrating on their driving that’s what causes the main problems, when they should be looking all the time and aware of their surroundings then they wouldn’t jump or even miss the big blue flashy thing that’s is making an almighty racket….rant over!!!xx

  8. Petrolhead says:

    So many people where I live (probably all over the UK, actually) just stare straight out of the windscreen, they don’t check mirrors often enough so won’t notice the blue flashing lights. And if they’ve got their music up loud they’ll drown out the siren too – they’ll probably only notice when a big yellow truck zooms past them and everyone else on the road shoots them dirty looks!

  9. nickopotamus says:

    It’s strange how people behave in different towns. In VeryPoshNorthernTown you can barely get anywhere – people in their Chelsea Tractors block you in at every junction, as obviously their mission is far more important than the person dying in the back, whereas RelativelyNormalNorthernTown has some of the best behaved drivers in the area. (But don’t even talk to me about DecrepidNorthernTown where people don’t seem to know how to drive normally, let alone with an abulance behind them!)

    Common one at the moment is as Rach said – people who try and overtake when a car who has noticed us pulls over. Also foreign vehicles (especially lorries) who either completely ignore us or pull up in the most stupid of places. Though my favourite was a guy who almost crashed into us (and gave my a nasty bruise to the shoulder when my crewmate had to hammer on the brakes) as he was too busy eyeing up girls on the corner to see/hear the van 😀

  10. […] did not think it was a real ambulance” Should have gone to Specsavers? King Magic points us in the direction of this story…. A critically ill patient died after a neighbour […]

  11. Louise says:

    It needs to be addressed from several different angles.

    1. Education of learner drivers: It needs to be a part of the test procedures that a driver knows to indicate pull over and STOP when they are faced with an emergency ambulance.

    2. Public information adverts, posters, training schemes going into work places, shopping centres etc. to take the message to the general public. It needs to be given the same level of importance as is given to the ‘Stop Smoking’ and ‘Look for bikes’ Campaigns. It needs to get in peoples faces and MAKE them listen.

    We are coming up against this type of thing fair too much and people just don’t have a clue.

  12. Ben says:

    “This country is becoming increasingly more and more angry and frustrated.”

    With all that’s going on, can you blame them? Unfortunately, anger and frustration tends to carpet-bomb rather than being aimed only at the deserving targets.

    I agree with Louise; how to act when you encounter an emergency vehicle should be part of the driving test.

  13. Decius says:

    I recommend upgrading your vehicles with titanium cow-catchers, and/or a hydraulic forklift on front.

    Make it clear that you ARE going to continue on your intended course at your intended speed, even if they fail to clear out.

    Although I do wonder if the reduced response time would be worth all of the “Impaled by an ambulance” calls. One can dream, anyway.

  14. Persephone says:

    Sadly, this selfish behaviour is not limited to any country. It is quite the same here in Germany.

    I think, blocking emergency vehicles should be prosecuted more often and fines should be higher.

    @Louise: In Germany, we have to do a course on very basic First Aid measures before we can get a driver’s licence. During my course the paramedic told us repeatedly, how to behave. And we also discussed various settings. Maybe this certificate should not be issued for life, but need “refreshing” every five years or so.

  15. Major says:

    Not suggesting for a minute that anything like this is the cause of the incidents mentioned about but it does bear thinking about…

    Late last year in Perth Western Australia a driver stopped at a red light when an ambulance came up behind him with red lights on. He pulled in front of the car beside him and allowed the ambulance to proceed. He was technically in the intersection but was not actually far enough in to be in the path of vehicles going the other way.

    Sadly for him
    1. There was a red light camera at the intersection
    2. The police prosecuted him
    3. The ambulance service was not interested

  16. Elliott says:

    In a previous job working for a big retailer beginning with T, all available first aiders were called to an elderly lady who had an epileptic fit in the sweets aisle, on the way to the floor she struck her head on something which had caused a large scalp laceration.

    Understandably the aisle was closed while first aiders did their best to stop the lady bleeding to death, whilst she had her fit. J and P did a fantastic job ending up covering in the old ladies blood.

    A lady walked up to H one of the managers and demanded Jelly Babies. H was known unaffectionately as the Queen of Darkness (that’s by the people who actually got on with her!) H told the woman in a loud voice, in no uncertain terms that she would have to come back due to the obvious nature of the emergency, that you could see the blood from the end of the aisle etc.

    The woman then threw such a hissy fit that P threw a bag of Jelly Babies at her. The woman then pointed and said “Not those, the one’s next to them”.

    The store manager just about got between H and the woman before H sacrificed her to the dark lord… The elderly lady died later in hospital and never regained consciousness.

    Same store… I treated an elderly lady who collapsed at the back of checkouts hitting her head on a checkout on the way down, she had a massive lump on her forehead. I wasn’t prepared to move her and shoppers were directed back through one checkout and then through another checkout so that I had room to work and people could still get out… several people said “I hope she’s okay”, asked “Will she be okay”.. one lady asked if we wanted her newly bought cushions for under her head…

    Then there was a gentlemen in his fifties who decided to ignore the diversion and repeated rammed my leg with his trolley in an effort to make me move out of the way… I was known for my tact, diplomacy and customer service skills.. Not on this occasion. I stood up and told him if he did that one more time I would put him forceably on the floor next to the lady. My old lady was later discharged from hospital.

    Same store… A lady in her later forties early fifties had a fight with her husband, locked herself in the car and decided to put her foot down and drive straight out of the car park. Her plan would have worked except someone was on the crossing, she ploughed into the woman, ran over her leg leaving tire marks in her leg. She then stopped and hurled abuse at the woman, tried kicking her in the chest and head. Security pulled her off. As ambulance service was putting her onto the spinal board she escaped from security by elbowing one of the guards in the face, she then tried attacking the woman she’d run over. Police who were on scene ended up pinning her to the floor to stop her.

    Other examples:

    While putting an eight year old boy on a spinal board, myself and three members of ambulance crew were verbally abused and spat at.

    A car vs. lorry accident outside the store blocked the exit, there were dozens of complaints that people couldn’t get out of the car park, one gentleman narrowly avoided killing a police officer trying to force his way through.

    A fishmonger nearly sliced a finger off preparing a fresh trout, on seeing him bleeding and trying to call for help commented “I suppose I’ll be kept waiting for my fish now. ”

    I could go on but I think that’s enough for now!

  17. kingmagic says:

    Mr. Nighttime…we would love to ram cars/people out of the way but the management would not back us up. Easier to sack the staff than to address the problem.

    Rob…sign of the times and the country we now live in. Income generation and pure laziness/apathy on the behalf of the ambulance service in not backing up well intentioned motives.

    Rach…one of the problems we have is cars following in our ‘wake’ when we are responding to an emergency. they think they will get to where ever quicker but put everybodys lives at risk. x

    Petrolhead…I am amazed at the amount of people who see others pulling up in front and then they pull out without using their mirrors. far too many times and I have hit one car that did just that…it delayed the response to a seriously injured man (who died later as result of injuries).

    nickopotamus…we should be using on board cameras same as the police. Once evidence is collected the driver could be charged. Only problem would be the gov would see it as another money making scheme.

    Louise…it does seem to be getting worse. Education and robust deterent sentencing (except the ‘moving from red light ‘ scenario with good intent.)

    Ben…with more ambulances and RRVs flying around on blues and twos than ever before (thanks to call connect) there should be more training in the driving lessons for learner drivers on how to react.

    Decius…I like your style, I will put forward your suggestion to management…anonymously of course!

    Persephone…sounds like a good scheme in germany.

    Major…similiar to earlier commenters post. If it happened to me I would appeal and kick up a storm in the local papers to shame the ambulance service into support.

    Elliot…******g h**l! I’m not going to that big store that begins with the letter ‘T’ anymore! The ‘Queen of Darkness’ sounds formidible! People just dont seem to be able to fathom out their own morals at times. Fortunately there are still more good than selfish people…although the latter seems to be growing in numbers!

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  19. Cole says:

    It’s sad that all these stories just don’t surprise me much. I really think it ought to be illegal to even curse at emergency personnel. You ought to carry around a cop who just writes tickets to jerks.

    And about firemen putting hurt people in a firetruck: in America we have these rescue unit trucks that look like fire trucks but are essentially toolboxes on wheels and are meant to be an all-in-one rescue unit that can put out a burning vehicle, rip the occupants out, and take them to the hospital, all in one vehicle! But I’ve also seen them used for just one of these tasks, either at a fire, or just as an ambulance when none of the regular ones are available. They probably have those in Ireland too. Either that or it was a “Who’s left to rescue the ambulance people”?

  20. Sam says:

    Just stumbled across your blog. Had a similar incident once when two cars crashed near my house at 2am. Threw on my dressing gown, rushed downstairs to find three teenagers in fine fettle yelling at each other about who decided to steal the car and why one of them (who turned and walked off the moment I called an ambulance) was driving so fast. Not so lucky was the girl on the ground, half conscious, spitting teeth and blood, with facial injuries and the inevitable chest injuries from being flung across a small car on impact.

    Her best friend decided to kneel down, grab her and wail “you’re going to die, you’re going to die” as I arrived, so despite the crowd of people who had gathered, only one person had the brains to get a blanket (thanks to the nice lady) and only one person was willing to try and keep her with us (me, with rusty first aid skills). I knew I wasn’t going to be able to give her cpr very well with crushed ribs, so I cleaned her mouth of teeth, told her to spit any out which she needed to, took her vitals, relayed them to the ambulance and at that point her mate returned, along with a lad who had been in the car, she stood behind me, he stood in front of us and she proceeded to hit him whilst kicking me (hopefully by mistake). I had to get up, physically restrain her, yell in her face to go forth and multiply and let me get on with helping her friend before pushing her away.

    I then managed to persuade an old guy from the crowd to hold the victim’s head steady as she was nauseous and then explained how we should turn her if she started to throw up as I believed she probably had back and/or neck injuries. The crowd then decided to disagree and shouted me down saying I was going to cripple her. I yelled back that if she threw up and I didn’t turn her, she was going to inhale vomit and die, and they quietened down (amazing how many were able to give advice but none would help).

    By now, the poor girl was drifting in and out and coming back only if I spoke to her continually and asked her questions.

    The ambulance had trouble getting to us (took about 20 mins and three calls) and when it did get there, it had to get through a crowd and then over the debris from the accident.

    The crew walked straight up to her, ignoring me and I got out of the way. Went home bruised, covered in blood and wee and glass. It did give me an insight into what you guys go through but it would have been nice to have a thank you for keeping the patient going!!!

    I tried to find out what had happened to her but nothing was reported in the papers and the hospital wouldn’t give me any info or pass on a get well message to her from me.

    She was only fourteen, a nice kid mixed up with a bad crowd and I hope she made a full recovery. It did make me get myself on a refresher first aid course and I wouldn’t think twice about doing it again, this time mindful of the stupid people who seem to abound at times!

  21. kingmagic says:

    Good skills and drills Sam.
    The crew might not have ignored you intentionly, at least I hope not.
    I’ve said to people that I’ve taught first aid to that one day they will use their skills…maybe today, maybe tomorrow, maybe in ten or twenty years time but one day definately.

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