I have a question for you; what do you do when you have an individual who uses a wheelchair full time, but then needs an emergency ambulance?
I’m not talking the community-type ambulances for patient transport here, but the ones that you see racing along the roads with their sirens and lights going, letting people in front know to move out of the way because they need to get a person to hospital fast.
I bet you’re thinking well, you take the wheelchair with them to hospital, right?
But modern ambulances are like mobile intensive care units; there simply isn't the space for a wheelchair; nor is there anyway of securing the thing while in transit. Sam's wheelchair isn't a run-of-the-mill variety that folds down to fit into a car boot when travelling; it’s a specialist, modular chair made just for him. In a funky lime green colour no less.
And it is *big*. When we travel with Sam in our WAV, Sam’s chair is secured to the floor of the van with four tension straps so that the chair is held firmly in place and won’t move while the van is travelling.
So, while Sam is being rushed to hospital, we have to face the 2.5hr round trip to get to his school and back again before we can join our boy in the emergency unit. It’s brutal.
This means that to change him, Sam needs enough space in the loo to allow his wheelchair and a minimum of one able-bodied carer to be in with him.
Have you SEEN the size of most disabled loos these days?! If it wasn’t such a degrading and distressing experience for all of us it would be comical.
In addition to a lack of basic equipment to allow us to hoist him and change him on a CLEAN changing bench, rather than manhandling him onto a dirty toilet floor, there simply is not enough room for the basics.
Surely in this day and age of equality and diversity, things have got to change?
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