A taste for the high life and increased demand for space in urban areas has prompted the development of more high-rise buildings than ever before. While the upward trend in the UK may help to alleviate the population boom, there are concerns that the increase in the number of tall buildings will cause the delays in getting seriously ill patients to hospital. As cities across the country and indeed the world continue to grow vertically, it begs the question, are high-rise buildings problematic for ambulance crews?
With the demand for housing going through the roof, high-rise buildings offer a tenable solution. However, an upper floor residency presents a unique challenge in a medical emergency. When lifts are broken or patients are in ‘carry chairs’ or stretchers, crews may have to carry patients down stairs. Additionally, delays can occur at the ground floor entrance, particular when security personnel at the building are untrained or unaware of the impending arrival of an ambulance crew.
It goes without saying every second is precious in these situations. With heart attacks and cardiac arrests in particular, it’s critical for paramedics to get to the top floors quick enough for defibrillators to be used effectively. To that end, there are calls for defibrillators to be installed in cabinets on the higher floors of all high-rises, so that residents themselves can use these life-saving machines should the need arise. It’s a sensible, feasible option, but also raises questions about whether cabinets should be locked or accessible to all. After all, who would be liable if something went wrong? We have some useful guidance here on the issue of defibrillators.
In response to these concerns, we have seen some councils react. For example, we’ve seen police officers, firefighters and paramedics given the keys to access 26 tower blocks across Hull in case of an emergency. These are perhaps the kinds of measures that could be applied across the country to ease emergency staff’s access to high-rise buildings.
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Risk Management Partners Limited is authorised and regulated
by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Registered office: The Walbrook Building 25 Walbrook, London EC4N 8AW.
Registered in England and Wales. Company no. 2989025.