HC 1456 Home Affairs CommitteeWritten evidence submitted by Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel

I feel compelled to write to you as a national officer of Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel (APAP) and a front-line paramedic with over 30 years experience, with the intention of offering an ambulance perspective from our union to any planned enquiries/investigations into the civil disorder that took place in our city centres over the last week or so.

Only today, in an interview for BBC radio Berkshire, I highlighted the contrast in the provision of the personal protective equipment (PPE) that ambulance crews in London have had at their disposal, in comparison to those working in other parts of the country.

London Ambulance (my trust), is the only trust that affords its crews body armour as part of the package of PPE that they carry with them at all times and crews were required to wear it at all times during the height of the civil disorder that blighted our capital city.

The public disorder was obviously not confined to London, but ambulance personnel in the rest of the country were not given the “privilege” of this enhanced protection as London Ambulance continues to stand out as a beacon of common sense in an otherwise barren landscape. You may find it surprising, but body armour is conspicuous by its absence in virtually every other trust other than in Dorset and Essex where provision is a legacy from the premerger of ambulance trusts in 2006.

APAP has campaigned tirelessly since 1997 for body armour provision to be made available to all front-line personnel in England, and we have received the same tired arguments about why this goal should not become a reality.

I am writing to you to offer to give oral evidence to your committee on this and the wider issues surrounding the terrible events that occurred over the last week or so.

As something of a bit of background, I am attaching a synopsis of our union and one of a number of articles I have written on the subject of body armour. I am also attaching two recent press releases for your perusal with some press copy from the BBC. I did give oral evidence on behalf of APAP to the Health Select Committee in 1994, when it investigated the London Ambulance computer crash of 1992.

I felt this correspondence was important considering recent events and look forward to hearing from you soon.

September 2011

Prepared 22nd December 2011