Rail passengers are being asked not to pull the emergency cord if there is a medical emergency on board a train after new guidelines were introduced.
Train company Greater Anglia and the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) have just agreed a new process for their control rooms to work together to go to the aid of sick passengers as quickly as possible.
If a passenger pulls the emergency cord, the train might stop between stations and become inaccessible for a conventional ambulance.
Medical help will arrive more quickly at a station, where the passenger can be taken off the train and treated.
If someone becomes ill on a train and it’s a life-threatening emergency, passengers should dial 999 for an ambulance.
Passengers should also alert any staff on board or contact Greater Anglia via Twitter.
When the train arrives at the next station, unless staff are already dealing with the ill person, passengers should alert the station staff. The ill passenger should be helped off the train.
Greater Anglia Control staff will liaise with the ambulance service to work out the best place to take the ill passenger off the train, taking into account access and availability and location of ambulance staff.
Pulling the emergency cord or pressing the emergency button to stop the train not only means that the ill passenger has to wait longer for medical assistance, but it also causes delays to the train service, which can sometimes lead to people on other delayed trains becoming ill.
Last year, trains were delayed by the equivalent of seven days due to passengers becoming ill on trains on the Greater Anglia network.
Richard Dean, Train Service Delivery Director at Greater Anglia, said: “We want the best for our customers – and this includes making sure that if they fall ill on a train they get help as soon as possible.
“This is the first time we’ve worked in this way with the East of England Ambulance Service. I’m sure this new way of working will be much better for all of our customers – those who fall ill as well as those caught up in consequent delays.”
Gary Morgan, Deputy Director of Service Delivery for EEAST, said: “During a life-threatening emergency it is important to stay calm and take actions that will help the patient. Pulling the emergency cord and stopping the train between stations will make it more difficult for ambulance staff to reach the patient.
“If you call 999 for a medical emergency, please listen to and answer the questions asked by the emergency call handler as this will enable us to send the nearest and most appropriate response and provide advice on what to do until the ambulance service arrives.”
“The ambulance service is for emergencies such as cardiac arrests, patients with chest pain or breathing difficulties, traumatic injuries, severe allergic reactions, chokings, severe burns and unconsciousness.”