The emergency services (Police, Fire and Ambulance) have to respond to all emergency situations, but they have different roles and responsibilities and they have graded response policies. All emergencies are graded by the call handler according to the information from the caller and not by the way the incident is reported. If a caller dials 999 believing an incident is an emergency the call handler will assess the information and then decide whether it is top priority or if the incident does actually require an emergency response. Call handlers work under the supervision of team managers and incident managers. The standards of fire cover all fire services in the United Kingdom and were set originally in the 1930’s but were established in 1958 by the Home Office.
They were more clearly defined and revised in 1974 and again in 1985. Fire risk assessment, until the current year, has been based upon this guidance, which consists of a prose description of the risk categories and a formula designed to determine a points rating or fire grading of premises. When the risk category of an area had been determined, the criteria set by the Home Office demanded that the fire service response to emergency calls, met minimum requirements in terms of speed and weight of attack. Grading of incidents by the Fire service is split into 5 categories: Category ‘A’
Built up areas in large cities containing large commercial and industrial premises or high rise property where there is a strong chance of fire spread. The recommended minimum first attendance was three pumps, two to attend within five minutes and one within eight minutes, to be achieved on at least 75% of occasions. Category ‘B’
Refers to large cities and towns with multi-storey buildings, including large areas of residential housing as well as industrial estates with high-risk occupants. The recommended minimum first attendance was two pumps, one to arrive within five minutes and the other within eight minutes, to be achieved on at least 75% of occasions.
Refers to the outskirts of larger towns and the built-up areas of smaller towns and extensive areas of residential dwellings such as terraced houses and semi-detached houses, blocks of flats as well as light industry/commercial properties. The recommended minimum first attendance was one pump within eight to ten minutes, to be achieved on at least 75% of occasions.
Consisting of rural property, villages and farms and all areas that do not come under categories A-C. The recommended minimum first attendance was one pump within 20 minutes, to be achieved on 75% of occasions. Rural and remote is a separate category and has no pre-determined response time. The majority of Merseyside (91%) is classed as C or D risk. http://www.gloucestershire.police.uk/foi/Information%20Classes/Policies/item11547.pdf Grading of incidents by the police in England and wales are graded as ‘emergency ‘or ‘non-emergency’ in four grades. Grade 1 is the emergency response. An emergency contact will result in immediate police response. It involves circumstances where an incident is reported to the police which is currently taking place and there is a risk of danger to life, the use or immediate threat or use of violence or serious injury to a person or property.
Criminal conduct will be dealt with as an emergency if the crime is going to be serious and is in progress, an offender has just been disturbed at the scene or the offender has been detained and there is a high risk that he is a threat to the general public. When the incident involves traffic collision it will be classed as an emergency if it involves or is likely to involve serious personal injury and also if the road is blocked due to the collision and if there is a dangerous or excessive build up of traffic. Also if the call handler who takes the call feels strongly that the incident should be classed as an emergency. The urban response time for this Grade is 10 minutes and the rural response time is 17 minutes. Grade 2 is classed as a Priority response. The call handler feels that the incident is important or urgent but does not need an emergency response.
This could include incidents such as a concern for someone’s welfare, an offender has been detained but is not a threat to anyone, a road traffic accident that has injuries or has caused a serious obstruction, a witness may be lost or a person is suffering distress and is believed to be vulnerable. Resourses for a Grade 2 incident should be sent as soon as is safely possible and within 15 minutes. Grade 3 is classed as a scheduled response. This is when the needs of the caller can be best achieved by scheduling a response. This could be when the response time is not critical when apprehending offenders or a better quality of policing can be given if it is dealt with by a scheduled response by a police officer or even by that person attending the police station. Incidents should be resolved to satisfaction level of caller as soon as possible and must be within 48 hours of first call. Grade 4 is classed as Resolution without deployment. This is used when an incident can be resolved through telephone advice, help desk, frequently asked questions or other appropriate agencies or services. The caller is advised of an agreed call-back time and to be as soon as possible and within 24 hours.
Grading of incidents by the Ambulance Service are placed in three categories, this grading also applies to urgent calls from GPs and other health professionals, as well as calls from the general public. Category A is Priority. This is when an incident is considered to be immediately life-threatening examples are when a person is suffering with chest pains/cardiac arrest, unconscious/fainting or has breathing problems. The response time for a category A is within 8 minutes or less. Category B is where an incident is serious but not immediately life-threatening, examples are when someone has fallen or has serious bleeding, a sick person with no priority symptoms or overdose/poisoning. The response time for category B is within 14 minutes in urban areas and within 19 minutes in rural areas. Category C is when an incident is not serious or life-threatening, examples when someone has fallen over and assistance is required, and a sick person with a range of non-serious conditions such as diarrhoea or someone with abdominal/back pains.
In 2000 the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) became responsible for assessing the training and standards of all drivers who drive emergency response vehicles which are fitted with blue lights and sirens. When talking to other agencies the DSA drew up the Blue Light Users Working Party Expectations Document. This document contained a list of the expectations that drivers of emergency response vehicles should meet before being allowed to drive these vehicles. This document was accepted by the three main emergency services (police, fire and ambulance). This document includes performance criteria and knowledge and consists of these three elements. All emergency drivers need to be over the age of 18 and in good health also must not have any motoring convictions against their name and this is checked every three years. Element one is the ability to assess the need for an emergency response.
Element two is the ability to drive the vehicle safely to emergencies and element three is the ability to show the correct attitude when responding to emergencies. Police Service Drivers have to meet the standards set by the DSA but the police service also have their own driving centres. At the driving centres police are trained and graded according to National Training Standards, which is then approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The type of driver training depends on the job role of that police officer. Police drivers can be graded as Standard response drivers, advanced drivers or pursuit drivers. Advanced drivers and pursuit drivers have intense training and they use high powered vehicles and advanced techniques for responding quickly and safely to emergencies. Fire Service Drivers The fire service also has its own driver training centres where drivers are trained to the standards met by their Fire Authority.
To drive an Emergency Fire Appliance drivers must hold a Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) Licence and have received the necessary training and assessments. Only then can they be allowed to drive when responding to emergency situations provided the vehicle is fitted with audible/visual warning devices. Ambulance Service Drivers need to hold C1 (medium sized vehicle) and D1 (minibus) licences and receive the appropriate training by the DSA. Although some Ambulance Services especially in London state that ambulance drivers must hold a LGV licence. Ambulance driver training and assessments are usually carried out by independent driver training centres and not the Ambulance Service. Drivers of emergency vehicles also have to understand that bad driving can cause accidents. Drivers of emergency vehicles are not above the law even when attending emergencies they have to show that whilst going to an emergency they drove with care and attention and did not drive in a dangerous way, if they were found to have driven dangerously then they can be prosecuted in the same way as a member of the general public can.
Also if the driver is convicted of a serious traffic offence they may be disqualified from driving both emergency and privately owned vehicles. To reduce the danger to themselves and the general public the drivers of emergency vehicles must use their sirens and blue flashing lights to warn other road users as well as pedestrians and cyclists that their vehicle is responding to an emergency. Flashing blue lights and sirens should only be used when attending emergencies although police drivers can use flashing blue lights and sirens when attempting to stop another driver. Drivers of emergency vehicles have to follow the same traffic laws as everyone else, but when using flashing blue lights and sirens they are exempt from a number of motoring rules which means they can go through a red traffic light, pass to the right of a keep left sign, drive on a motorway hard shoulder even against the direction of the traffic and not follow the speed limit.
The Highway Code is a book of rules which all drivers have to abide by the Highway Code makes no special rules for the emergency services other than for members of the general public to listen for the sirens and look for the blue flashing lights and to let them pass safely but still taking notice of all traffic signs. During unsociable hours consideration is given to the use of sirens especially around residential areas, unless conditions are bad and they need to use their siren. Blue lights would only be used as they are visible to road users at night. When there is an advantage to a silent approach then driving is altered and speed reduced.
Members of the Public service are often judged harshly from the public, when it comes down to the pursuing of stolen vehicles. Although the public services do a good job when they pursuing stolen vehicles or on their way to an emergency incident there have been cases where their have been incidents where it has affected the public services. Example
At 11.20 on the 19th of May 2008, Haley Adamson a 16 year old school girl was struck by a police car going 70mph whilst she was crossing a road in a residential area in Newcastle which had a 30mph speed limit. Hayley died immediately from the impact of the police car. The police car was being driven in pursuit of a vehicle that had just been registered on the police number plate recognition system. At the time of the incident the driver Pc