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February 2019

Premature Birth Mum Thanks Lifesaving Ambulance Team

Eli Pic 3

A mum who gave birth three months early has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) team who saved her new-born baby. 

Lucy Knight, 29, went into labour 13 weeks ahead of her due date at home with boyfriend Dean Glover, 27, in Ilminster, Somerset.

Baby Eli Glover was born on 12 July, at just 26 weeks and six days, and weighed only 846g (1lb and 14 oz).

Eli was in a critical condition, but survived and was well enough to go home two weeks before he had been due.

Lucy, Dean, and Eli made a special visit to Taunton Ambulance Station on Thursday 7 February to thank the SWASFT team for helping to save Eli’s life.

To listen to the 999 call made by Lucy to SWASFT, click here.

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Lucy said: “When Eli was born, I didn’t want to look, because I didn’t think he would be alive. But he was breathing and crying, which was a huge relief.

“I remember noticing how tiny be was. But I was in such a state of shock that I couldn’t really feel anything. I was like an empty shell with no emotion.

“We’re so grateful to the call handler for keeping me calm, and for helping us to keep Eli stable and safe until the paramedics arrived. The crew were absolutely amazing. We cannot thank them enough for getting me and Eli to the hospital safely.

“The outcome could have been very different. But so many people played a part in saving my baby’s life, and we are forever grateful to them all.

“Eli is a little miracle, and we’re so delighted he’s alive and at home with us.”

Lucy originally called 999, because she thought she might be giving birth. Minutes later Dean delivered his new son on the bathroom floor.

SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Lydia Gardiner, who took the call, ensured Eli was breathing and was kept warm.

She said: “It’s always a privilege to help deliver a baby over the phone, and this call is one I won’t forget.

“I knew Lucy needed help when she said she was only 27 weeks pregnant but was pushing and felt like she could see the baby’s head. But when she said she was having contractions, we lost phone signal. By the time I managed to reach her the baby had been born. So my priority was then to make sure he was breathing and was kept warm. Even though the baby was struggling to breathe, the paramedics soon arrived and I handed over to them. So I had no idea if Eli was going to survive.

“I was delighted to hear Eli is doing so well, and it’s such a privilege to meet him and his family. We don’t always know the outcome of calls we take, let alone have the opportunity to meet patients.

“Lucy did exceptionally well and kept really calm in what must have been such a scary situation. I feel proud to have been able to help her when she was most in need.”

Paramedics arrived to treat Eli who was so small he could fit into the palm of his mum’s hand. Despite it being a hot day, the crew drove with the heating on to neonatal intensive care unit at Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton.

SWASFT Lead Paramedic, Aaron Doolan, said: “Heat loss is extremely detrimental to a new-born. So when we’re travelling to the hospital in this situation, we always turn the vehicle’s heating on, as well as wrapping a new-born in a baby blanket.”

Eli spent 76 days in the neonatal intensive care unit. During this time he had two bleeds on the brain and a partially collapsed lung.

Eli was allowed home at the end of September, and although he still has some health complications, the infant hasn’t shown any signs of permanent brain damage.

SWASFT teams help out in approximately 300 emergency birth incidents across the South West every year.

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More Tri-Service Safety Officers operational across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Tri Service officers

On Friday 8 February 2019, eight further Tri-Service Safety Officers will officially become operational across Cornwall and Isles of Scilly.

The new Tri-Service Safety Officers will join the existing officers who are currently based in Liskeard and Bude, making a total of 10 across the county and will be visible across towns and villages from 1 April 2019.

The additional officers will be located in: St Just, Hayle, St. Ives, Fowey and Polruan, Perranporth, St. Dennis, Looe, Lostwithiel.

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Tri-Service Safety Officers primarily focus on engagement, early intervention, prevention and reducing demand for police, fire and ambulance services as well as responding to critical incidents on behalf of the fire and ambulance service.

The role is jointly funded by all three emergencies services - Devon & Cornwall Police, South Western Ambulance Service (NHS) Foundation Trust and Cornwall Fire, Rescue & Community Safety Service.

In November 2017 the new Tri-Service Safety Officers began an extensive five month bespoke induction course covering all aspects of the role and on completion are trained to co-responder standard.

Whilst the role doesn’t have police powers as such, they do have powers under the community safety accreditation scheme and are able to give community safety and prevention such as advice on anti-social behaviour, installation of a smoke alarm, or any medical referral/advice.

The new Tri-Service Safety Officers will operate within, and around a five minute response area of a fire station where they have instant access to police, fire and ambulance IT systems to enable a better immediate understanding of incidents.

In addition, a new Tri Service Safety Manager role to support and manage the team is currently being piloted.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Alison Hernandez, part-funded the development of the role as a direct result of the £12 increase paid by council tax payers for policing.

She said: “A huge amount of work has gone into making these roles a reality. Tri-Service Safety Officers make sense for the emergency services when it comes to covering rural areas, and more importantly a lot of sense to the communities across Cornwall who are welcoming them with open arms.

This shows how innovative work in collaboration with others can deliver real opportunities to keep communities safe and put extra boots on the ground.

Last year the public backed my plans to invest in new ways for our communities to become safer. I promised people that if they paid more they would get more in return and the roll-out of Tri-Service Safety Officers across Cornwall is the start of that, as is the development of community responders in Devon. I expect to see more of both being deployed in the future.”

Chief Superintendent Jim Pearce from Devon and Cornwall Police said: “We are so pleased to welcome the new Tri-Service Safety Officers to Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. We have had such success with the pilot and it’s great it’s being expanded to cover more areas. We have already seen the existing Tri-Service Safety officers provide support to the local neighbourhood teams with anti-social behaviour cases and low-level crime, as well as responding to incidents for the fire service and ambulance calls.

It is really positive to see the officers in the communities and the work and relationships they can achieve. We really look forward to seeing what difference the additional officers will make.”

Paul Walker, Chief Fire Officer from Cornwall Fire, Rescue & Community Safety Service said: “I am immensely proud of what our new Tri-Service Safety Officers have achieved throughout their training. They all recognise the significant difference they can make in rural areas, the benefits of understanding rural communities, the risks, the geography and the people.

Adopting and embracing flexible ways to work, engaging with vulnerable people and supporting community needs in a 999 and Safeguarding context is a challenging, worthwhile and rewarding role. We have the right people passing out here today to make a genuine difference, I look forward to monitoring their progress and wish them all every success with their new careers.”

Robert Horton, Responder Programmes Manager, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said: “This initiative is the only multi-service role in the country which focuses on prevention. The attention to prevention reduces the long term impact on emergency response and demand to our emergency services. The opportunity to expand this initiative is fantastic and demonstrates the commitment made by the Emergency Services in Cornwall to do things differently for our communities.

The Trust is delighted to be part of this unique initiative which has demonstrated in Hayle, Liskeard and Bude that this really does work. We are excited for these new locations to see the benefits of the role.”

To find out more about your local Tri-Service Safety Officer visit the Devon and Cornwall Police website.

Frequent Caller demands on the Ambulance Service

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are reminding people to only call 999 in an emergency and to use other more appropriate services for less urgent conditions.

It is estimated that one in ten calls into the ambulance service are from ‘frequent callers’ taking up over 200 hours a day of vital emergency team’s time - putting a huge strain on the Trust. 

Across the South West patch over the past year there have been 15 court convictions against frequent callers who have abused the system calling 999 ambulance control. One was a court order after a lady from Devon made 129 calls in a three month period to emergency services when none of the calls were to life threatening emergencies. Penalties range from Criminal Behavioural Orders, Community Orders, Fines, Court Injunctions and Custodial Sentences.

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SWASFT has a dedicated frequent caller team that works with patients and other health care services to manage the demand on the ambulance service. The team follows a four-stage process from identifying a frequent caller through to an evaluation and review and, ultimately, a possible court hearing.

Paramedic Jonathan Hammond-Williams the Frequent Callers Lead, said: “The Trust takes the issue of frequent callers very seriously. Those who are not in genuine need can use precious resources that should be allocated to those who are in a life-threatening time critical condition.

“Callers can be found guilty of abusing the system and causing annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety through the Misuse of Communications Act for repeated inappropriate calls to 999 services. We seek prosecutions of people found to be abusing the system because it can, and does put other people’s lives at risk.”

Not everyone defined as a frequent caller is ‘abusing’ the system. There are legitimate cases where someone may be at the end of their life or have a complex, ongoing medical condition meaning that frequent access to emergency care is required.  The circumstances surrounding each individual identified as being a frequent caller are reviewed to ensure support can be put in place to prevent the regular calls.  

The definition of a frequent caller is defined nationally as an adult (18 years +) who makes 5 or more emergency calls related to individual episodes of care in a month, or 12 or more emergency calls related to individual episodes of care in 3 months, from a private dwelling.

One previous frequent caller, who was helped by the multi-agency team, but wants to remain anonymous, said “I have come to my senses as to how busy they [the ambulance service] are, I was calling unnecessarily due to anxiety and my health worries.”

Another frequent caller said; “I was going round and round in a circle and I had had enough of going in and out of hospital with the same story. I haven’t had any alcohol since February and my life is different, much better, I can live again and enjoy myself.”

“If they are not medically unwell people should seek help from someone else like the AA or GP.  It’s hard when you are scared and don’t know what to do.”

There are around 2,000 active frequent callers? in the ambulance service across the South West. Most of them fall into the more vulnerable groups, such as mental health, dementia, drug and alcohol or social care. 

SWASFT is reminding people to only call 999 in an emergency and urging them to choose well.

999 Call Handler Sarah Up For Nation Award After Beach Rescue


A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler has been shortlisted for a national award, after she helped to save a young man’s life.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD), Sarah Fisher, has been named as a finalist for the Control Room Call Taker of the Year at the APD Control Room Awards 2019.

It comes after she convinced a dog walker to do CPR on a lifeless body he had found on a beach. The patient survived, and made a fantastic recovery.

To listen to the call made by Police to SWASFT, click here. To listen to the call made by Sarah to Richard, click here. These recordings contain audio some people may find distressing.

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Sarah, who works at the SWASFT Control Hub near Bristol and lives in the city, said the incident showed that people should “never give up” trying to help someone.

She said: “The call has always played on my mind.

“I didn’t know why the patient was there, how long he’d been there, or what had happened.

“The caller was convinced the young man was dead and beyond any help. But I really wanted to get him to do something for the patient. It was an amazing outcome.

“Being an EMD can be very challenging. We can only deal with the information we are given, and we don’t tend to know the outcome of calls. Sometimes we get shouted at and abused by callers. This one call restored my faith in what we do.

“I’m delighted to have been chosen as a finalist for a national award. It’s such an encouragement for all of us in the Control Room, and an inspiration to anyone never to give up trying to help someone. We really can save lives.”

Police initially told Sarah that a member of the public had found what appeared to be a dead body beside the Severn Estuary in January 2018.

She called the informant, Richard Gaman, back and asked him to return to the patient.

It soon became clear that the patient’s heart had stopped beating, he was not breathing, and he was extremely cold.

The situation appeared hopeless, but Sarah refused to give up on the patient.

She encouraged and supported Richard to do CPR for more than 20 minutes, as a multi-agency rescue operation began.  

Responders treated the patient at the scene, and then took him to hospital where he made remarkable progress.

The patient made a special visit to the Control Hub to meet and thank many of those involved in the rescue, including Sarah.

She received a letter of thanks from Chief Executive Ken Wenman for the way she handled the incident.

Her team leader, Michelle Charles, said: “Sarah is a truly dedicated professional who goes above and beyond to provide outstanding care for patients.

“Whatever the circumstances, Sarah treats patients and callers with respect and dignity, and is fully committed to improving lives.”

The Control Room Awards were launched in 2018 to celebrate the “unsung heroes” of the emergency services. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Nottingham on 7 March.


1. The photo shows Richard with Sarah during the meet-up with the patient at the Clinical Hub in October 2018.

2. Emergency Medical Dispatchers (999 Call Handlers) deal with emergency calls from the public and enable other staff to organise for help to get there as soon as possible. For information and to apply for the vacancies within the Trust, visit NHS Jobs.

About cardiac arrests:

1. A cardiac arrest is a time-critical, life-threatening event that occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body effectively.

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

Boy, 6, Saved in Swimming Pool Drowning Scare

Riley reunion

A young boy who survived a near-drowning at a Devon swimming pool has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) crew who saved him.

Riley Broome, 6, was at the Riviera International Centre, Torquay, in September with his younger brother and great grandmother when he went underwater.

Riley was unconscious and not breathing, and needed urgent medical help.

A pool lifeguard and an off-duty nurse began CPR after he was pulled from the water.

Off-duty SWASFT student paramedic Joe Cartwright stepped in to continue the resuscitation effort and support Riley until ambulance crews arrived.

Riley, who is now seven, and his mother, Tash Munro, went to Torquay Ambulance Station on Thursday 21 February to thank Joe for coming to his aid.

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Joe said: “At the time my training and adrenaline took over, but once I had time to reflect I realised the magnitude of what had just happened.

“It’s been lovely to meet Riley again. He was very poorly, but now he’s much livelier.”

Riley and Tash also thanked Lead Paramedic Kate Butler, Paramedic Hannah Guest, and Emergency Care Assistant Robert Dale who treated him as well.

Riley was driven by ambulance to hospital where he stayed for the rest of the day.

Tash, who was at home with her new-born baby at the time of the incident, said: “A normal Saturday morning almost turned into the worst of my life. I got a call to say Riley was face down in the deep end. But the lifeguard, the off-duty nurse, and the off-duty paramedic were amazing. They brought him back to life. I’m so thankful.

“Having seen the CCTV footage, this seems to have been an example of silent drowning, because no one realised what was happening to Riley until someone bumped into him.

“When you go swimming with young children, you’ve got to have eyes in the back of your head, because you never know what might happen.”

Joe, who is also a retained firefighter, said: “I was told that a boy had been pulled from the water and was not breathing. When I arrived to help he was grey, but then he began coughing up water and breathing for himself.

“At first he was barely conscious. I kept talking to him, and tried to keep him calm and warm. I monitored him and checked his breathing until the crews arrived. Then I carried him into the ambulance.

“The nurse and the lifeguard did an amazing job with the initial CPR. I’m pleased I was able to help with the CPR and the post-resuscitation care. At the time my training and adrenaline took over, but once I had time to reflect I realised the magnitude of what had just happened.”

If you suspect someone is drowning: attempt to rescue them if safe, begin CPR if they aren’t breathing, and call 999 for an ambulance.

Paramedics Raise Funds And Awareness For Homeless Charity

Paramedics sleep rough for charity

Big-hearted Paramedics and Emergency Care Assistants from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) Swindon Station are set to sleep out rough for 24 hours to highlight the issue of homelessness this week. If you would like to donate please click here

On Thursday 28 February 2019, Paramedic Chris Kirby will be joined by colleagues in support of local charity ‘The Swindon Night Shelter’ which provides emergency accommodation, food and clothing for homeless people.

The SWASFT team are doing the 24-hour sleep-out on the steps of Swindon Ambulance Station for the second year running. They are hoping to beat last year’s total of £2,000 which they raised for Shelter.

Paramedic Chris Kirby said: “Sleeping out last year opened all of our eyes as to what it must be like for those homeless patients we treat, and how the thought of being homeless as a continuous cycle rather than a one off might affect an individual’s mental health.”

“It highlighted things that you would never even consider such as road noise when you are trying to sleep, foxes coming for a sniff, how cold a pavement gets after a few hours, and the absolute boredom of staying in one place for fear of losing your spot if you move.

“The passing public were very supportive and kindly gave us several rounds of free coffee and food. This year, inspired by our new neighbours, the Swindon Night shelter, we shall be raising money for this local charity with a target of £3,000. We have built good relationships with the shelter, and hope to create a referral pathway to them within the coming months. We would actively encourage people to run similar events - it definitely creates an understanding for those who have no option but to sleep rough.”

The SWASFT team sleeping out this year will be: Chris Kirby, Ollie Dalton, Charlie Goldsmith, Adrian Sawyer, and two new faces: Lee Stagg and the Wiltshire Deputy County Commander Jane Whichello.

DONATE HERE: To contribute to the Swindon paramedics page see link:

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