1 The worrying kidnapping of Red Cross aid worker Khalil Dale in Pakistan. The profile showed someone who has spent his whole life working in war zones. He had taken part in a BBC documentary where he talked of watching people starve to death in Somalia. Let's hope he is released safe and well, soon.
2. And I'll accept that my reaction to this second story is exacerbated in the context of the above. Ambulance workers have turned down a settlement which would have given them a one-off payment of £1500 then £100 every time their meal breaks were disturbed by a call out. These discussions came about because of the death of Tomintoul woman Mandy Mathieson from a heart attack. The ambulance called for, even though it was not far from her house didn't leave till the staff has finished their break.
I have to say I find that one hard to understand. I barely had a lunch break in the 4 years of my last job, simply because that's when people tended to come in to see me because that's when they were available. It was just how things were. I have no doubt I could have asked them to wait, but that didn't seem right especially as most people had serious, stressful issues to deal with.
It makes me wonder what life as ambulance crew is like if they can turn down what appears to be a generous offer. Is there an unpleasant management style in the Service? What lies behind it? I had a look at the rates of pay for paramedics and I have to say I was surprised that they earned so little given the level of skill they have to have and the diverse range of trauma, from heart attacks to delivering babies to horrendous road accidents they deal with. They seem to get between 21 & 34 thousand, but that higher figure is only for senior paramedics.
I am not sure it's wise, though, for ambulance staff to conflate the meal break issue with other grievances. If more lives are lost, the public will find it hard to sympathise with the service. However, flexibility on this will reassure the public and more likely win support for the other stuff. In an emergency, every minute matters. Nobody knows that more than paramedics. If they show no flexibility on this, they put lives at risk. That's the bottom line.
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