This Is What They’re Worried About?


Fury as front line ambulance staff ordered to inspect wheel nuts on their vehicles

Ambulance staff must now check the nuts on the wheels on their vehicles before they start their shift.

An internal HSE memo has been sent to workers ordering them to inspect their vehicles and gives detailed instructions on how to do the safety check.

The document is dated February 21 and was drafted two weeks before the wheel came off an ambulance in Dundalk, Co Louth, which had just brought a patient to hospital.

Staff have hit out at being asked to work as mechanics as well as paramedics.

One said: “We don’t mind looking at the wheels but we are not mechanics.”

As Ambulance Driver would say, “Oh, the Huge Manatee!”

Imagine being asked to actually LOOK at the lug nuts.

There is a copy of  the memo in the article at the link. It directs crews to inspect the yellow pointers that are on the wheels during their daily vehicle inspection. If they notice one of the markers is not pointing in the right direction, they are (GASP)  to make sure that the ambulance   is “placed out of service until examined by the appropriate vehicle maintenance service provider”.

Which would entail no more labor than maybe picking up a phone and calling dispatch.

It is not as if they are being asked to grab a lug wrench and tighten the lug nuts themselves. Which is something that we had to do at my service way back when. Along with changing tires if there were no mechanics available.

This is going to turn into one of those “Back in my day” stories. Because in the past history of EMS, more than one emergency repair took place in order to keep an ambulance in service and have to go through the ordeal of changing in to a “spare” ambulance. Or as one of my co workers referred to them, “rentals”. And you all know how loved a rental car is.

Change tires, tighten lug nuts, replace light bulbs, swap sirens with spare ambulances so that we could go back in service. For many years my service made the mistake of leaving spare vehicles where we could get at them. It wasn’t pretty on Monday mornings when the mechanics came in and found all of the parts missing from the spare ambulances by enterprising medic and EMTs intent on keeping their regular ambulance in service.

Not to mention the locker full of spare parts that I had.

And these wimps are complaining about having to look at lug nuts.

I’d bet that there is far less aggravation attached to walking around an ambulance looking for loose lug nuts than there is writing a series of reports about why they fell off while you were on a response.

I won’t say that I was always 100% diligent in doing my vehicle check outs, but there were some things that I checked every shift whether it was my turn to drive or not. Lug nuts were one of those things. I almost learned that the hard way one day about thirty years ago. Doing my walk around I noticed that there weren’t the requisite eight lug nuts on one of the rear wheels. Nor were there an almost adequate seven. Six? No. Five? No. Four. Uh uh. There were two lug nuts, both loose. Where they had gone in the 24 hours since my last shift I never found out, but they were gone. The off going crew swore on a stack of bibles that the had looked at the start of their shift.

From that day forward I never took an ambulance on a call without first checking the lug nuts. More than once I found loose or missing ones.  It’s just one of those mysteries of the universe, I guess. It probably happens in other fields, but less often because they don’t beat the holy crap out of vehicles as does EMS.

All of which is to say that I have no sympathy for the whiny Irish EMS crews who are complaining about this.


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After a long career as a field EMS provider, I'm now doing all that back office stuff I used to laugh at. Life is full of ironies, isn't it? I still live in the Northeast corner of the United States, although I hope to change that to another part of the country more in tune with my values and beliefs. I still write about EMS, but I'm adding more and more non EMS subject matter. Thanks for visiting.


    • “Stupidity cannot be cured with money money, or through education, or by legislation. Stupidity is not a sin, the victim can’t help being stupid. But stupidity is the only universal capital crime; the sentence is death, there is no appeal, and execution is carried out automatically and without pity.”

  1. I find it disturbing the incredulous looks I get from the younger co-workers when I raise the hood, check the fluids, check all the lights and pull a screwdriver out to tighten the screws holding the door pulls and overhead grab rails on before every shift…

    • It seems to be a lost art these days. When I started in EMS there were a lot more motor heads on the job and so doing all of that was the norm. We were supposed to fill out a check out form at the start of each shift, but a lot of people never bothered until the truck was broken down. Periodically management would go on a crusade and threaten discipline. I had a pretty good relationship with the fleet mechanics for most of my career so I’d either call them or send an email when there was a problem. Up until the time I retired, I still did a lot of minor repairs myself. Earlier, I did some not so minor repairs, including the night my partner and I replaced a cracked rear brake drum on a an ambulance. The on duty mechanic was buried with a major repair job on another ambulance, so he said, “You guys know where the parts are and my tool box is open.”, so we jacked up the truck, took off the tires, and replaced the drum. Not only that, but we didn’t get our white uniform shirts dirty!

      Ahh, the things you could do when there were no bosses around. 🙂

      • you can still get away with things if you work for a small enough service. We did our own everything. Gas, oil, batteries, fluids, ambulance washings, everything. The bosses did everything too… boss was just a title for the person who had to accept responsibility for all the icky paperwork. Duties were the same for everyone. Being a small service though it was a catastrophe when the resident mechhead retired. The new guy was sadly inadequate & we got too used to estimating oil levels by observing the size of the puddle on the cardboard under the engine block.

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