New initiative allows blind and partially sighted people to identify ambulance crews

Post date: 
Tuesday, 23 August 2016
London Ambulance

Blind and partially sighted patients who seek emergency medical help will now be able to verify the identity of crews before inviting them into their homes.

RNIB has worked with the London Ambulance Service to introduce a safer scheme when sending response crews to calls from blind and partially sighted people. The idea came from Mr Dean Buttery, an ambulance crew member who experienced an incident when off duty with a distressed elderly blind man who needed help.

Mr Buttery, said: “People were trying to help him, but they were pulling him in different directions and trying to get him to the side of the road. He was swinging his cane about and trying to get people away from him as he felt vulnerable and threatened, and this added to the danger. I walked over and tried to help him, explaining that I worked for the ambulance service, but had no way to prove it.”

Blind and partially sighted people who require assistance from the London Ambulance Service, can ask medics for their unique code, which can then be checked over the phone if the person calls the emergency operations centre.

When Mr Buttery previously worked as a police officer, he would carry a warrant card with the word ‘police’ in braille. “I realised the [Ambulance] Service had nothing similar. If I could have identified myself to the patient, I’d have been able to gain his trust.”

Michael Page, RNIB’s New Business Manager, said: “We’re pleased to be working with the London Ambulance Service to improve accessibility for blind and partially sighted people across a number of areas.

“It’s really important that blind and partially sighted people have confidence in the identity of any person who comes to their door, and this new initiative is another tool to help people to check this. We look forward to continuing to work with London Ambulance Service to improve services for people with sight loss.”

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