LBWF’s ‘traffic calming’ measures again in the dock: an expert paramedic argues they worsen ambulance response times and so may increase fatalities in health emergencies

In a previous guest post (see links, below), a local resident examined the ‘traffic calming’ measures which LBWF is installing across the borough, and pointed out that they have a severe impact of those living nearby, producing amongst other things noise pollution and household damage.

What follows casts light on another aspect of the problem, the way that the measures slow London Ambulance Service (LAS) call outs to serious cases like cardiac arrest and severe allergic reaction.

The author has worked as a LAS paramedic, and deserves to be taken very seriously indeed.

Waltham Forest Matters is grateful for such a detailed and comprehensive contribution.

‘1. I attended meetings with local authority traffic committees which included conversation about the installation of speed humps or cushions etc..

2. At one such meeting a Metropolitan Police Service Traffic Officer commented that it was believed that each speed hump added some six seconds to response journey times to emergency calls for all the emergency services.

3. So the installation of ten speed humps can add at least one minute to response times.

4. From a health care perspective, research has shown that every one minute of delay in the start of resuscitation and the use of a defibrillator reduces a patient’s chances of survival by 10 per cent.

5. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence website states in an article “What is the Prognosis” that:

(a) fewer than one in ten people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest;

(b) around 7–8 per cent of people in whom resuscitation is attempted survive to hospital discharge; 

(c) immediate initiation of CPR can double or quadruple survival from out hospital cardiac arrest;

(d) only 40 per cent of people receive bystander CPR in the UK;

(e) defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can produce survival rates up to 50-70 per cent;

(f) each minute of delay reduces the probability of survival to hospital discharge by 10 per cent; and

(g) fewer than 2 per cent of people have an automated external defibrillator deployed before the ambulance arrives.

6. From this you can see that with defibrillation the maximum chance of survival is 70 per cent, so the drop by 10 per cent per minute of delay reduces the survival rate to zero in just seven minutes.

7. A House of Lords research paper of January 2022, which summarises “NHS emergency call categories and ambulance response time targets”, states that as regards “Category 1 Life-threatening” calls the response target is “7 minutes on average, and 90% of calls in 15 minutes”.

8. The issue now is not only speed humps/traffic calming measures, it is also the narrowing of roads to one lane in each direction which causes traffic tailbacks, and the inability on occasion to use the “wrong side of the road” to move around traffic congestion, thus adding further delays to response times.

9. In addition the imposition of one-way traffic management and now other traffic restrictions have also complicated journey times’.

Thus, there seems to be a certain irony at play here, and it’s not a pleasant one, for though speed humps are claimed to reduce traffic-related accidents, and so the potential for fatalities, their impact on LAS response times may act in the opposite direction, and increase the likelihood of death from other, more mundane, killers.

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A local resident writes in about LBWF ‘traffic calming measures’ that do the opposite! UPDATED

LBWF in Private Eye yet again, this time over dodging key questions about whether it consulted the emergency services prior to implementing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods