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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 22:13 
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http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-e ... e-17842413

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A transplant ambulance driver has been found guilty of speeding while travelling from Edinburgh with a human organ on board.

Andy Thomson, 46, from Blyth in Northumberland, got three penalty points and a £60 fine.

He was taking a child's liver from the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh to St James University Hospital in Leeds.

Haddington Sheriff Court heard the incident happened on 8 October 2011.

Mr Thomson was asked by the transplant surgeon to use the marked ambulance's blue lights and sirens to get the liver to Leeds as quickly as possible.

Travelling south on the A1, Mr Thomson triggered a speed camera at Gladsmuir in East Lothian going 84mph, 14mph above the speed limit for the road.

Mr Thomson said: "I was aware of the speed camera flashing as I passed but wasn't really that concerned as I knew my speed was anything but excessive for the nature of the task.

"The good news was that I was able to deliver the organ to the hospital in Leeds in time for a successful transplant to take place later that day."

His employers contacted the police but were told they did not consider the vehicle, a marked ambulance, as being exempt from normal speed laws.

In other parts of Scotland drivers of private ambulance vehicles, when being used for emergencies, such as transporting donor organs, submit a section 87 exemption.

The exemption allows drivers to exceed the speed limit.

Mr Thomson said: "Lothian and Borders Police have made it very clear that they will not accept a section 87 exemption from private ambulance operators, despite the fact that the exemption is only ever used in emergency situations when we are working under contract to NHS Blood and Transplant."

A spokesperson for the Department of Transport in London said: "Existing laws exempt vehicles from speed limits if they are being used for ambulance purposes and where exceeding the speed limit is necessary for those purposes."

The Crown Office said: "Ultimately it is for the procurator fiscal to determine whether it is in the public interest to take action by taking the circumstances of the individual journey into account.

"We can readily accept that in some cases where the purpose of the journey is the swift delivery of transplant organs then it will not be in the public interest to take proceedings for a speeding offence."

A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "We work closely with the NHS to establish the authenticity and credibility of any agency claiming to be carrying out work on their behalf when caught speeding.

"The decision to prosecute a driver for any motoring offence is made by the procurator fiscal."

What a bunch of obnoxious jobsworths :x

Surely it was not in the public interest to prosecute in this case.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 23:09 
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Perhaps some parent depending on a transplant ,and not getting it on time because of these jobsworths might decide to sue the area responsibly .Money might talk a lot more than the decisions of the SCP .

(Excessive quoting deleted by PeterE as moderator)

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 25, 2012 23:49 
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Clearly not in the public interest to prosecute in this case whatsoever. If it was their organ for a relative I bet they would think differently. The ambulance (we are led to believe) had on B&T's it has a clear purpose and proven route and delivery.
It is an utter disgrace to act this way, how can they possibly justify this ?

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:41 
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BRAKE said "This driver was clearly a potential killer. If it saves one child's life..."

Oh, hang on a minute.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 21:03 
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Quote:
"The good news was that I was able to deliver the organ to the hospital in Leeds in time for a successful transplant to take place later that day."


Not at all essential to speed and more importantly not an exempt vehicle or indeed an ambulance. I don't believe it has the authority to carry blue lights either.

It is effectively an organ taxi.

If they have difficulty then they should lobby for legislation change.


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 21:49 
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I dont think for one minute that we have heard the full story,only the sympathy for the driver side of the story,what I would ask is the following questions.
1.What blue light training has the driver done.
2.What exemptions was he using
3.Who gave him the Authority to drive under B+Ts (is the surgeon authorised to give permission)
4.If the Organ was so important why did the NHS Ambulance not transport
5.If this vehicle was involved in a serious or fatal collision who would take responsibility.
6.Who carried out the Dynamic risk assessment on the actual task to carry out.
7.Just because a vehicle is liveried in certain colours does not mean it is an exempt vehicle.
8.What type of vehicle was it and was it the best vehicle for the job.

I would assume that all these questions were asked prior to any proceedings taking place and from what has been wrote by the failure to accept the section 87 exemption suggests that the vehicle and driver were not authorised under the present laws. After all if something had gone wrong and the job didn't get done then I bet we would be reversing the role now why this why that etc etc.
Not defending or criticising any one here just playing the devils advocate it's bad enough when it all goes wrong with a driver and vehicle that is above board let alone with driver and vehicle who should have been no where near blue lights and sirens.
Stephen


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2012 22:41 
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Last two posts ask a lot.
1) -We all know his opinions .Better a failed organ than someone getting the job done. I wonder ,having heard his background what he'd have done if a crewman had appendicitis on a tour in foreign waters ,with no capacity to operate ,or surface and evacuate the casualty?
2) - When all the risk assessments have been done, has the driver any chance of meeting medical deadlines .

End of day - driver delivered. That's when common sense should have come into play.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 01:24 
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GreenShed wrote:
Quote:
"The good news was that I was able to deliver the organ to the hospital in Leeds in time for a successful transplant to take place later that day."

Not at all essential to speed and more importantly not an exempt vehicle or indeed an ambulance. I don't believe it has the authority to carry blue lights either.
It is effectively an organ taxi.
If they have difficulty then they should lobby for legislation change.
BBC News wrote:
Mr Thomson was asked by the transplant surgeon to use the marked ambulance's blue lights and sirens to get the liver to Leeds as quickly as possible.
We do know that it was one of the hospitals Ambulance's, beyond that, and only using this article, we know little else.

But the questions asked are valid if they have not already been addressed by the Hospital Transport Department and other authorities.
The Police have implied that they don't consider it to be an Ambulance. Just because other areas of Scotland require a section 87 exemption, does not mean that this particular hospital required it, although the way that the article is written implies that this is the case, but it does not state it.

The article shows contradictions :
BBC News wrote:
His employers contacted the police but were told they did not consider the vehicle, a marked ambulance, as being exempt from normal speed laws.
Implies that his employers believed that he was exempt. So one can assume that they too thought the vehicle was authorised to use B&T's and that this journey was crucial and necessary. The surgeon gave the urgency and it looks like the Hospital backed him up.
Now perhaps a section 87 exemption should have been filled out but if that is the only error then it is one of paper work by his employers not one of 'action' by the driver.
Then we have :
BBC News wrote:
Mr Thomson said: "Lothian and Borders Police have made it very clear that they will not accept a section 87 exemption from private ambulance operators, despite the fact that the exemption is only ever used in emergency situations when we are working under contract to NHS Blood and Transplant."

But he was - wasn't he ? If not then who was he actually working for and under what authority does the ambulance come ?
Then :
A spokesperson for the Department of Transport in London said: "Existing laws exempt vehicles from speed limits if they are being used for ambulance purposes and where exceeding the speed limit is necessary for those purposes."
The Crown Office said: "Ultimately it is for the procurator fiscal to determine whether it is in the public interest to take action by taking the circumstances of the individual journey into account.
"We can readily accept that in some cases where the purpose of the journey is the swift delivery of transplant organs then it will not be in the public interest to take proceedings for a speeding offence."
Which tells me that they see that this journey was necessary, he was in an ambulance fitted with B&T's, that it was a journey for a crucial organ transplant, that he was therefor exempt, that a swift journey was required, and that therefor he ought to be exempt and that it will "NOT be in the public interest to take proceedings for a speeding offence."
Then :
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said: "We work closely with the NHS to establish the authenticity and credibility of any agency claiming to be carrying out work on their behalf when caught speeding.
"The decision to prosecute a driver for any motoring offence is made by the procurator fiscal."
So even the Police who claim to work closely with them - implying that they try to "establish the authenticity and credibility of any agency" has failed in this instance - s- again one of paperwork not one of action against the driver.
Also that this all ends up resting with the PF (procurator fiscal).
So why might the procurator fiscal then facing this official line of 'don't proceed' then decide alone to go against this approval and proceed 'anyway'? :scratchchin:

I can understand and recognise that there are 'proper procedures 'that need to be followed. Google shows that it is 201 miles and (approx) 3hrs 55mins ([urlhttp://maps.google.co.uk/maps?saddr=Royal+Hospital+for+Sick+Children&daddr=St+James+University+Hospital,+Beckett+Street,+Leeds&hl=en&sll=54.873595,-2.267085&sspn=3.401135,7.69043&geocode=FZqNVQMdh1fP_yF7RoXTIwLY0inFmooSeMeHSDHwLQ3ykky10w%3BFQcKNQMd-8jo_yGJZhkPMiGQMQ&oq=St+James+University+Hospital+in+Leeds.&t=h&mra=ls&z=7]here[/url])
I know that it used to be that after 4 hrs an organ was starting to 'suffer' and deterioration occurs on a downward trend so speed is of the essence.

I would expect that as an ambulance driver that he has received all appropriate training for just these purposes. He also thought that he was exempt. And by that I would take it to mean (and obviously this ought to be backed up with appropriate paperwork from his employers) that he thought everything was in place for him to be exempt, when such occurrences took place, and he needed to travel above the legal limits.
I can see from the statements made that there has been no advantage served nor benefit to the public by the prosecution now served. What will happen is that ambulance drivers will become so nervous and so protective of their licenses that they will no longer go above the limits, and people will die, and so the public will suffer.
That is all negative for the public. Creating a system of paranoia is not one that serves the public just an over bureaucratic system that has forgotten about the real world, that it is meant to serve, not one that it is a slave to.

When Police have accidents it is bad, as they have failed on some level to adhere to their training or if they have had none then that is a failure of the whole system. Yet we do have police out there I standard police vehicles that are expected to travel as fast as possible to attend emergency situations, with no additional training whatsoever.
Now this is very bad IMHO. When Police are expected to travel quickly whether it be in PC Plod car, or their highest spec RPU then they need additional training to learn how to deal with the emotional and physical stresses, and (obviously) the additional requirements of skills and judgements that will be required of them to arrive safely.
When it is carried out in only very exceptional circumstances, then that training is what will help them to arrive safely and keep calm and confident. This was a long emergency journey that needed to be done at a rapid pace.

I would have thought as this was a Transplant vehicle that it clearly informed everyone that he came across that he was in a rush with precious cargo it seems to me that it was the best road vehicle. Why a plane wasn't right I don't know but maybe it was longer to organise and perhaps if they just got going it was the best overall. I am sure also as he will have been completely kitted out with all the necessary fridges and back ups and other necessary equipment too that it was in the safest place for that length of journey too.
Whilst this might serve as a nasty warning to all other emergency vehicles who now may wait to ensure that their bosses have all the paperwork in order before they set off, what will that do to public safety long term?
I already see police held up now by the public who are stuck with red lights and feel they have no where to go than through a red light and a camera flash. so the police leave on the B's and turn off the T's then when the lights go green back on with the T's !!!!! lets hope the person in trouble weren't worse off by the time they arrived having been delayed at various lights !
It has to be one of safety first. and in this case it looks like he was competent to do the job but not one where the paperwork matched the requirements. Perhaps the PC should have apportioned blame to his bosses.

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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 19:25 
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Was getting the organ there quicker of benefit? Yes

Did the driver believe he was doing the right thing? Probably yes

Would the man on the clapham omnibus complain if this prosecution had not proceeded? No

Are the prosecutors pleased with themselves! You bet!


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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 23:25 
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GreenShed wrote:
Quote:
"The good news was that I was able to deliver the organ to the hospital in Leeds in time for a successful transplant to take place later that day."


Not at all essential to speed and more importantly not an exempt vehicle or indeed an ambulance. I don't believe it has the authority to carry blue lights either.

It is effectively an organ taxi.

If they have difficulty then they should lobby for legislation change.


That's a risky assumption. Although he might not have run into the operating theatre and plopped it into the hands of the waiting surgeon who was standing there with his team twiddling their thumbs while waiting for his arrival, that doesn't mean speed was of the essence. They have better facilities in hospitals for preserving AND PREPARING organs for transplants than they do in any vehicle (ambulance or otherwise). It could easily have been critically important to get it to the hospital reasonably quickly, but prior to starting the operation. You also don't know how long the operation took. No surgical team in their right minds would start a transplant operation before the donated organ has been delivered and cross-checked, prepared etc. If anything had gone wrong, what would they have done with the patient? Put his old organ back in?!


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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 20:36 
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GreenShed wrote:

It is effectively an organ taxi.

.


Dedicated to SAVING lives. Can those persons advocating the use of Cameras to reduce speed actually provide proof that

1) Lives are saved by the cameras.
2) speeds outside of the range of the camera are reduced .
3) Cameras PREVENT accidents


For the defence --

Image

For those with oprital problems ( i.e folks that can't see farther than the end of their nose ,when presented with safety facts, the sign says "ACCIDENT HERE")

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Drivers are like donkeys -they respond best to a carrot, not a stick .Road safety experts are like Asses - best kept covered up ,or sat on


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