Tall orders and defibrillators

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, in April 2018 the Local Ambulance Service blamed the increase in the number of tall buildings for 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 2017, NHS England introduced new ambulance standards. These set the target for response times to more serious illnesses at seven minutes. The surge upwards in cities look set to continue, so ambulance crews, not to mention fire, police and local authority services, have a challenge towering over them, now and for the future.


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https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/ambulance-chief-blames-delays-in-patient-transfers-on-highrise-living-a3804311.html

https://www.england.nhs.uk/2017/07/new-ambulance-service-standards-announced/

 

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.