View Full Version : LHR: Third World emergency services.

Hot Wings
11th Nov 2003, 23:55
What is the point of declaring a medical emergency going into LHR, if you then have to wait at the gate for 30 minutes whilst an NHS ambulance arrives from Hillingdon?

I cannot believe that the BAA do not employ paramedics on 24 hour standby at LHR. The use of NHS crews unfamiliar with the gates at LHR, plus the need for them to go through security to get airside, causes delays and puts people's lives at risk.

It is time that the BAA stopped thinking of airports as shopping centres and started providing the emergency facilities that a "modern" airport and our passengers require.

Sonic Cruiser
12th Nov 2003, 01:22
Heathrow being the size it is should really have its own Medical facilities. You wouldn't have a town with a 50,000 population without a Hospital would you.
I did hear a rumour that Ashford Hospital was closing its A & E. If that is true with Heathrow nearby that is a crazy idea.

12th Nov 2003, 01:52
On a similar note, what's the point of declaring a 'Pan', getting a straight in approach to the depature runway, which already has 30+ outbound delay, and then having to wait 35mins before even being allocated a stand. It's either a medical condition which warrants a pan call or it's not. The company involved certainly didn't think it was serious enough to allocate the first stand available, so why was the pan call made in the first place??!!

12th Nov 2003, 01:57
From a personal point of view, I find this very disturbing. When dealing with Medical Pan a/c, we bust a gut to ensure minimal if any delay. Yet, to hear this, I have to think why effin bother. We always trat anything like this with the utmost priority, to the point of breaking things off final........I'd be really p*ssed to hear this is the case!

12th Nov 2003, 04:41
Jeezz.. is it still happening? It must be 20 years ago.. I was on watch as the Tower Supervisor and a 747 at 10 miles declared a medical emergency. I went through the standard procedure and was put through to the London Ambulance Service in Waterloo. I gave the operator the stand number at Heathrow which had been allocated to the a/c and I was asked "which road is that in?" The ambulance eventually turned up about 20 minutes after the a/c had parked.

Considering all the gyrations both ATC and crews go through to help medical emergencies it really beggars belief that ground backup leaves so much to be desired.

12th Nov 2003, 04:42
Firstly Heathrow does have an Ambulance Staion, its in the Old Fire Station on the Northern Perri. At Some stage, by the nature of things all the ambulances there will be on calls elsewhere, its a fact of life. The BAA used to have an Ambulance manned by the Airport Fire Servide, it was a good service but just like the LAS it was unavailable at times. The LAS took it over in the 1980's and rest assured that things are better now then they were then, I spent 45 mins pumping on someones chest waiting for an ambulance in 1983.

12th Nov 2003, 04:46
I had a similar incident approx 1 month ago. The ATC was fantastic, an outstanding job. Direct from North Wales to BNN, allocated frequency and a very short, perfectly judged approach.

Get on (remote) stand T3. No stand guidance, no steps, no buses and the ambulance got lost! 20 minutes on stand before the pax could be taken away.

P*** poor and not isolated from what hear from my colleagues. :yuk:


12th Nov 2003, 05:03
I was captain of a flight that went to manchester with a 6 month pregnant woman who had suddenly developed severe cramps.

We busted a gut to get on stand quickly (ATC WAS fabulous) got right up to the stand and had to wait about 10 minutes for an ambulence.

Because the ambulance drove up to the gate the blokes driving the ambulance didn't want to bring the litter up the stairs and somehow talked to the woman into walking down the stairs to the ramp. She hemmorraged on the way down the stairs baby and mommy lost in tansit during resultant ride to the hospital...

To this day I believe had they carried her out like we had arranged for and planned for (all pax in seat and whatnot) instead of having her walk down the steep iron stairs to the ramp she would have lived and maybe the baby too... That was early in my time in the Uk. I couldn't imagine someone doing that in the US... It was an eye opener. They were lazy, and she didn't want to inconvienience them or make a fuss.


12th Nov 2003, 16:17
Wino, what a sad incident.

But it seems to sum up the point of the original post perfectly. :(

Hot Wings
12th Nov 2003, 16:55
A terrible story, Wino.

The experience at LHR is so different from, MIA, for example, where I was followed to the gate by the paramedics, who the entered the aircraft as soon as the door was opened.

Once the BAA get sued a few times, things might improve.

12th Nov 2003, 17:40
I was pax on a flight to TPA last year (BA) and during the last hour of the flight another pax developed a problem. Clearly the flight deck had asked for a straight in as the cabin crew were extra busy getting everything stowed (and looking after the pax with problem who was sitting a few rows behind me in coach/World Traveller). We received a cabin briefing requesting us all to remain in our seats as medical personnel would be coming on board...we landed, taxi-ed to gate, and no sooner parked than the door was open and the paramedics plus trolley appeared in the doorway.. oxygen bottle at ready with mask out, they went straight to the pax, assisted him very gently to the trolley which wouldn't fit in the aisle, laid him on it and then at the trot ran off the aircraft up the gangway and, presumably by some other route to the waiting ambulance which had disappeared before the rest of us had even emptied the overhead bins. Most impressive. Does anyone know if this paramedic service would have been provided by Tampa Airport (either directly or as a retained local ambulance company) or would it have come from a local hospital?

I am sad, as a Brit, to hear the LHR does not provide such a service but as the title of this thread suggests the UK is in 2003 sorely lacking any "First World" sense of providing support and service to its population in so many ways ...

What are the requirements for airports to provide emergency first aid/paramedic services - is there some UK/EU/International standard?

12th Nov 2003, 18:31
I can't say with a great deal of certainty, but the only hospital in Tampa that I know of is quite a way from the airport (practically downtown), which makes me think that getting an ambulance to the airport pronto would be quite a task. That said, the roads there are pretty straight, plus it sounds like the crew gave the airport almost an hour's notice so...

In reality I don't have a clue. What a pointless post.

However, it doesn't surprise me that the Americans handled it better, the NHS is indeed third world.

But the passenger probably got billed $2000 for his troubles.

12th Nov 2003, 20:57
In Canada YYZ-YYC I heard a call for a doctor, we taxied to the gate and were met by paramedics who were waiting at the gate.

For most medical conditions, the gate is most practical as elevators are available to take a patient on a gurney to where the ambulance is parked and you don't have to navigate an unfamiliar crew about the apron.

In the tragic case of the 6 month pregnant mother with sudden pain, time and minimal disturbance to the patient is vital. The best tactic would be to use a catering truck to wheel out the patient to the deck and lower her to the ambulance.

Obviously the airport and ambulance need to have a agreed plan and route that all local ambulance crews are familiarised with and a gurney that fits in the aisle must be available.

The airport fire station would be a good place for this, especially as the crews could be trained to safely get the patient to the ambulance and nobody has to worry about gate navigation.

13th Nov 2003, 03:04
Maybe you should come to LGW then....

BAA contribute to the cost of providing dedicated paramedic cover between 0600/0000 here. All the 'Gatwick Solo' staff are free range driver trained, (no escort required), and have unrestricted security clearance. We also many the ambulance based at LGW Mon - Fri 0600 t0 1800 which again reduces the response time as we do not have to wait for escorts. Unfortunately this vehicle is often sent way off into the depths of Surrey and isn't available to the airport..

Of course there will always be a time when there will be more calls than ambulances - blame the NHS funding system for that.

At LGW if 'solo' is unavailable then AFS will always attend even if an ambulance is enroute from off airport. Unfortuntely the failing here is Surrey Ambulance will not mobilise an ambulance until the aircraft is on finals which often means that it isn't on stand to meet the aircraft as it may be some distance away and then has to await a police escort - usually taking longer than the average 10 mins from finals to stand.

Solo's will treat the patient and decide on the best course of action and if necessary mobilise ambulance back up, (in the case of serious/obvious emergencies the ambulance will be mobilised at time of call and may also be in attendance immediately).

Unfortunately despite BAA's and our best efforts certain airlines delay the patient's treatment by either failing to ensure pax are sat down/wait until they are on the ground before requesting medical assistance/pass poor or no details of the emergency/call for idiotic and minor things - possibly delaying the response to a more serious call.

We all work closely with BAA/the airlines and are acutely aware of the customer and commericial pressures on the crews and will do our best to avoid unecessary delays, etc.

Its not a perfect system but works well here at LGW and only funding prevents a 24hr coverage.

Edited to add:

Wino If you feel that strongly that the action of the crew contributed to the patient losing the child or becoming more seriously ill a call or letter to the ambulance service would result in a investigation and hopefully the appropiate action being taken against the crew involved. Ambulance service managers tend to take the side of the public rather than their staff... The system does work - I was in the unfortuate position of having to complain about a crew 2 weeks ago and the matter has resulted in disiplinary action.

It is not usually practical to take a stretcher to the aircraft and often pointless as it won't fit on board. However there is no excuse for not using a carry chair.

Catering trucks are useable but not ideal - many of their drivers will not let you use them. Ambu lifts should be available but the handling agent is responsible for providing them and with the exception of BA who seem to always have one on stand for all emergencies, they often take too long to arrive to be of any use.