03 July 2019
We caught up with HEMS Paramedic Page Chamberlain to find out how our crew are tasked to a job and who actually rings the red phone deciding when the air ambulance needs to be activated?
Page explained that the Cambridge based CCPs, together with colleagues from Magpas and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance, undertake regular 12 hour shifts on East of England Ambulance Service Trust's (EEAST’s) Critical Care Desk in Chelmsford where all the 999 calls come in for East Anglia.
“The desk can get up to 3,000 calls a day,” said Page, “and our task is to scan five computer screens, looking for patients who we think need the support of an enhanced care team.” Page can dispatch an air ambulance team immediately if a caller reports multiple or trapped patients in a road traffic collision, for example. She can also ask more questions of the 999 caller to clarify how sick a patient is, or respond to a request from an ambulance crew treating a patient who may be deteriorating.
Page and her CCP colleagues need excellent multitasking skills for such work: “Sometimes”, she says, “I can have a radio held to one ear, and a telephone in the other, as well as typing instructions to the dispatcher at the same time”. The atmosphere in the control room can be very tense, with spikes during morning and evening rush hours. During her busiest shift, Page dispatched 21 air ambulance teams across the region: “After days like that, I need some fresh air and a break from looking at computer screens,” she says.
Page, you are one of our heroes and we thank you and your colleagues for all that you do!