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April 2019

Heroic Teenager, Molly, Teaches Dad Lifesaving Skills

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are asking – ‘would you know what to do if a friend or relative collapsed and stopped breathing?’

Teenager Molly from North Devon knew exactly how to do CPR chest compressions when her stepfather collapsed at home while she was getting ready for school. Molly who was 14 at the time had received medical training with her cadets and has since received a bravery award from the St John’s Ambulance and met Princess Anne.

Click here to listen to the dramatic 999 call.

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The family were reunited with the lifesaving paramedic team in the bright sunshine at Bideford Ambulance Station this week, and got to see Molly in action doing a CPR demo on a dummy. Molly even got to teach her stepdad Pete Conners how to do the vital life-saving technique that she used on him when his heart stopped.

Teenager Molly said: “Everyone should learn how to do chest compressions as you never know when you might need to do them. Chest compressions keep the blood pumping round the body. I’ve enjoyed meeting the team and I’m looking forward to looking around the inside the ambulance. I hope to go into a career involving medicine – maybe a midwife.”

Paramedic Rich Meddings was first to arrive on scene that day and remembers it well. He said: “It’s so good to meet patients when they are looking better like Pete. That morning we were called to a cardiac arrest and the patient was only 38 years old. Pete was upstairs in the bedroom, not breathing and not responsive, and he’d turned purple. The family had done a great job starting chest compressions and giving him the best chance of survival. So we could step in and take over to get his heart started again. It took three shocks with the defibrillator, and then he was taken in the air ambulance to hospital.”

Steve Mayne, Emergency Care Assistant, said: “Molly was very impressive. You don’t get some adults stepping in to help with CPR. So it was amazing to see Molly doing chest compressions. Only one in 10 people will survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; so Pete is a lucky man.”

Every year more than 3,600 people are resuscitated by paramedics in the South West. For every minute which passes following an arrest the person loses 10% chance of survival.

NB: The attached photo show: Molly, with mother Sara and Pete Conners, and the paramedic team

#Unacceptable Abuse on Emergency Staff

Emergency services from across the South West are working together to highlight the unacceptable rise of violence and abuse towards their 999 Emergency Hub staff, with the continuation of the #Unacceptable campaign.

With Easter being one of the busiest times of the year for emergency staff, the services are expecting a sharp increase in incident calls over the holiday period with many extra visitors to the region.

Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks including serious injury, verbal abuse, spitting and biting, and even sexual assault from those they are trying to help.

It’s not just the frontline paramedic teams that face the violence, 999 Control hub staff are finding that they are increasingly subjected to abuse when taking emergency calls. In some cases emergency call handlers have had abusive rants with death threats to them and their families, and these are innocent staff who are trying to get emergency care to patients. 

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Natalie is an Emergency Call Handler in the Bristol 999 Control hub, she says her abuser has since been taken to court, fined and she has received compensation for her experience. “I am pleased this case went to court and wanted to highlight the problem we face in the 999 Control hubs, it is unacceptable to treat Emergency staff in this way. It is so frustrating for us in the Control hub as we are trying to triage and assess the patient over the phone with questions but sometimes we can’t even get an address out of the caller if they start to rant and get personal with their threats and swearing”.

Ken Wenman, of Chief Executive SWASFT, said: “Like all our emergency services colleagues, our crews and control staff work in extremely difficult circumstances and are often under threat of attack or abuse. This is totally unacceptable and we will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that our staff are protected and those responsible for such attacks are prosecuted.

“We are very proud to be part of this important ongoing campaign and hope that together we can make a significant impact in reducing the number of assaults and abuse on our staff so that they can continue to provide an excellent service to the public without fear of attack or abuse.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Davies on behalf of Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police said: “It’s not just frontline paramedic teams and police officers who face violence, 999 Control hub staff are finding that they are increasingly subjected to abuse when taking emergency calls.  In some cases emergency call handlers have had death threats to them and their family and these are innocent staff who are trying to get emergency care to patients.

Our officers and staff, along with other emergency services colleagues, demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis. They signed up to helping and protecting the public, not coming into work each day with the risk of being assaulted. The impact this can have on them, their colleagues and their families can have lasting effects long after physical scars have healed.

“Together, the emergency services want to ensure our personnel can deliver the best possible service to our communities; but in order to do this we need injury-free and healthy work forces. We will not tolerate assaults on our emergency services and will seek to bring criminal proceedings against offenders. I welcome the new law to double the maximum sentence from six months to 12 months for assaulting an emergency services worker.”

Choose Well this Easter Bank Holiday

Ambulance demand increases

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging members of the public to choose appropriately this Easter Bank Holiday as demand for the ambulance service is expected to increase.

Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include; visiting your local pharmacy, visiting a minor injuries unit or NHS walk-in centre, or calling NHS111. You can also find a whole host of information and advice online at

The Trust is expecting more than 11,000 incidents over the Easter Bank Holiday weekend with many visitors to the region. Devon is expected to be the busiest region with almost 2,600 incidents.

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Expected incident volumes by region between Good Friday and Bank Holiday Monday:

Bristol, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire














SWASFT is making more staff and vehicles available to combat the increased demand and is also advising members of the public to stop and think before dialing 999 for an emergency ambulance and to consider alternative treatment options if appropriate.

Examples of when to call 999 include choking, chest pain, stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness. Using the ambulance service in the correct way helps the Trust ensure that the most appropriate response is provided to those with a genuine clinical need.

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, says: “As the first busy Bank Holiday weekend in the south west approaches, we are predicting increased levels of calls to the 999 emergency ambulance service. With extra staff on duty, round the clock, we’re ready but the truth is we have a finite number of ambulances and highly-trained staff available. This means we will, as always, prioritise and focus on those patients in a time-critical life-threatening condition.

“We’re committed to delivering the right care, in the right place, at the right time for the 5.5 million residents plus the 23 million visitors we serve in our region.  But over the Easter break we’d like to ask the public to stop and think ‘is this an emergency’ before dialling 999.”

Paramedics are also reminding the public to take care if they are visiting coastal regions, and to be coast aware when taking families to the beach.

People visiting the south west this Easter should also remember to bring any essential medicines and stock up on repeat prescriptions before they travel as many pharmacies will have reduced opening hours across the long weekend.

Ken Wenman added: “All our staff out on the road and in the clinical hubs are working extremely hard to deliver the right care to our patients. This Bank Holiday weekend we want to ensure that residents and tourists alike know where to access the most appropriate treatment depending on what is wrong with them.

“There are a wide variety of healthcare services available for a range of conditions and it is really important that people choose well, especially during periods when the demand for the ambulance service is high.”

Girl, 9, Praised for 999 Call

A nine-year-old girl has been officially commended for her “brilliant” response when her pregnant mum became seriously ill.

Catherine Camara, 30, was five months pregnant when she collapsed and was struggling to breathe at home in Stoke Gifford, Bristol.

Massa Sow called 999 and told South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler Jonathan Leaton exactly what was wrong.

To listen to her 999 call click here.

Massa made a special visit with her mum to the SWASFT Control Centre in Bristol on Wednesday 17 April to be formally acknowledged for her actions.

She was presented with a certificate from SWASFT Chief Executive Ken Wenman to congratulate her.

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Massa, who learned at school how to call 999, said: “I felt scared, but I knew what I had to do. Now I am pleased mummy is better.”

Catherine said: “I had tears in my eyes listening to the call. I am not surprised she managed to call 999, but I didn’t expect her to do so well. She was perfect.”

Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Jonathan, also praised Massa.

He said: “Massa was brilliant. She provided clear and helpful information throughout the call. She did everything I asked perfectly. It must have been traumatic for her, but she remained calm throughout. I was so impressed by her.”

Catherine was 22-weeks months pregnant when the incident happened on March 25. She began to feel unwell, had severe pain, and was unable to breathe properly.

Massa dialled 999 and was able to describe in detail what was wrong with her mum.

She provided updates on her mum throughout the call.

When Catherine appeared to stop breathing, Massa was instructed to do chest compressions on my mum, which caused her to regain consciousness.

Paramedics assessed Catherine and found her condition was not life-threatening. She was taken to hospital as a precaution, and then continued her recovery at home.

SWASFT encourages parents to teach their children what to do in an emergency.

That includes showing them how to call 999, making sure they know their address, and ensuring they are aware of any known health problems in the family.

Dad Reunited With Lifesaving Team

A dad has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) team who saved him when his heart stopped.

Rob Chowdhury, 44, had a sudden cardiac arrest when he was at home in Salisbury, Wiltshire with his family in February.

At the time of the emergency, he was running on a treadmill in a competition with his children to see who could run one kilometre fastest.

Without warning, Rob lost consciousness and stopped breathing, and it was a race against time to save him.

Thankfully Rob’s family called 999 straight away and gave him chest compressions, which helped to restart his heart. He has gone on to make a remarkable recovery.

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Rob and his family made a special visit to Salisbury Ambulance Station recently to thank members of the SWASFT team who responded to the family’s 999 call.

Rob said: “I am incredibly lucky to be alive. If it hadn’t been for the speed, experience and professionalism of the paramedic crew who responded to the 999 call, I undoubtedly wouldn’t be here today. My family and I will be eternally grateful.

“My visit to the ambulance station really helped me and my family to understand what happened. My children who were still struggling to process the events found the visit both reassuring and fun.”

The paramedic team praised the family for their quick and effective actions on the day of the emergency.

Ben Channon, who was the first SWASFT Paramedic to treat Rob, said: “Thanks to the early recognition of the emergency by his young sons, the immediate and effective fundamental life support delivered by his wife, and the calm advice given by the clinical hub team – we were able to successfully resuscitate Rob, and restore a normal cardiac rhythm with two shocks delivered by a defibrillator.”

After he was taken to hospital, Rob went from strength to strength, and returned home with an internal defibrillator intended to stop a repeat scenario.

Ben added: “The team were exceptionally proud to be a link in the chain to Rob’s survival despite all odds. They were very pleased to have the chance to explain events to the family in a much happier environment. The children were delighted to have a tour of the emergency response vehicles and impressed the team with their recently learnt knowledge of the heart. We wish Rob and his family all the best in their road to a full recovery.”

If you suspect someone is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a public access defibrillator if one is available.

Heart attack and cardiac arrest:

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency when in which the supply of blood to the heart is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot.

A sudden cardiac arrest is an urgent medical emergency when the heart stops beating, abruptly and without warning. If this happens, blood stops pumping round the body, and the brain is starved of oxygen. That causes the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing.

If you think someone is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a public access defibrillator if one is available.

Around 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year. Just 9% survive, but their chances increase significantly when CPR and defibrillation is administered early.

For more information on SWASFT First Aid courses, including CPR training, visit: If you have a specific query: call 0300 369 0350 or email

Train Named in Honour of Bristol Paramedic, Kathryn Osmond

Group Kath Osmond train naming

Kathryn Osmond, who died two years ago at the age of just 41, was nominated as part of Great Western Railway’s 100 Great Westerners.

Kathryn worked as a paramedic for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for 16 years and passed away aged 41 on her 41st birthday on 18th April 2017 after a battle with melanoma.

While coping with her illness Kathryn fought tirelessly to raise the awareness of melanoma and to find the "magic bullet" to beat it.

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Melanoma UK CEO Gill Nuttall said: “Kathryn was such a pleasure to have known. She was a very popular character in the melanoma patient community and her efforts to support others, were widely acknowledged.  Kathryn attended a NICE appraisal on behalf of other patients and because of her help, NICE was able to make a positive decision on a treatment that was pivotal for both patients and clinicians. She is sadly missed and the Melanoma UK team is delighted she has received such wonderful recognition.”

Alongside colleagues, she helped to raise tens of thousands of pounds over the course of a year through various challenges, one of the most memorable was when dozens of her colleagues took to the Clifton Suspension Bridge to do the Running Man Challenge. 

The train naming took place in front of members of Kathryn’s immediate family, friends and former colleagues at Bristol Temple Meads this week, and the name was unveiled by Kathryn’s partner Sara.

Executive Director of Nursing and Governance for the South Western Ambulance Service, Jenny Winslade, gave a short speech about Kath’s career as a Senior Paramedic. "Looking back across her career, Kath stood out as a dedicated clinician, passionately caring about the patients she treated, as well as caring for her work colleagues.  She courageously went onto inspire thousands of people sharing her experience online - as she then became the patient – helping others whilst going through treatment for an aggressive form of malignant melanoma.  Kath was an excellent paramedic in every aspect.  She was always calm and reassuring during moments of crisis and could bring her highly-skilled professional qualities to help any situation.  Even in her last moments Kath’s dignity and composure never waivered, coming in to work when she was clearly poorly and never complaining, this just shows what an amazing lady she was.  Kath has left a hole in the lives of so many people she worked with and we were all devastated by her loss, it was an honour to know her and to have worked with her. "  

GWR Business Assurance Director Joe Graham said: “Kathryn epitomises the spirit of the Great Western in so many ways, and achieved so much in trying to help others. It is an honour that we are here today to name a train in her memory, and in so doing continue to raise awareness of this terrible disease not only here in Bristol, but across the Great Western network that we serve."Kathryn studied emergency care at the University of the West of England in Bristol and worked in Bristol and Weston-super-Mare.

GWR’s 100 Great Westerners were nominated by the public through the region’s media and are a mixture of well-known and less celebrated figures who have made a significant contribution to the West Country.

The fleet of Intercity Express Trains first started to be seen on the GWR network in October 2017, and each trains covers approximately 800 miles every day across the Great Western Railway network.

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: Donate to South Western Ambulance Charity | Give as you Live Donate