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January 2019

Paramedic awarded prestigious Queen's Medal

Rob Horton on Restart a Heart day

We are delighted to announce a Paramedic from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Medal (QAM). The esteemed award goes to Robert Horton, Responder Manager and Paramedic from Devon who joined the Trust in 2001.

In 2009 he joined the Trust’s Community Engagement Team to focus on developing community access to defibrillators. Rob has worked tirelessly, often in his own time, and with his team created over 3,500 defibrillators across the South West, together with an amazing team of 8,900 peoplewho are trained every year by Rob and his team to respond ahead of an ambulance in our communities and businesses.

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Rob created the first 999 Academy for 16 to 19 year olds in the country, a programme to create safer communities, build CV’s and inspire young people to take up a career in the emergency services. Following on from a road casualty reduction programme in North Devon, Rob developed the 999 Academy working with Devon & Cornwall Police, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and Petroc.

Rob secured a grant from the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport and the 999 Academy programme has expanded this year to Bridgwater & Taunton College in Somerset, with plans to create a 999 Academy in each county throughout the South West and to grow the programme nationally.

In 2011 Rob was promoted to head the Community Responders Department and through his dedicated leadership the Trust now has over 450 community groups and more than 1,000 Community First Responder volunteers. These trained volunteers respond to medical emergencies in their communities and businesses, often arriving on scene first to provide immediate care until the ambulance arrives.

Responder Manager and Paramedic, Rob said he is delighted at the news; “It is a real honour to be awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal and I feel immensely proud to work for the Trust.

“I am completely overwhelmed to be nominated for this prestigious medal. The announcement of the award on Friday was a complete shock and the level of reaction from family, friends and colleagues has been humbling. I carry out my role to the very best of my ability, energised by the amazing people I work with and by the volunteers of our South West community.

My ambition to enable Ambulance Service volunteering opportunities for our communities maintains my daily focus to seek new initiatives and programmes. I am extremely fortunate to see first-hand how beneficial volunteering for individual and community health really is. I am immeasurably grateful to the support of the Trust’s Directors who believe in the work I do with the team and the benefit we provide our patients and communities.”

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said; “There is an amazing amount of talent and dedication here in the South Western Ambulance Service and Rob is the absolute testament to that. He has developed the ambulance community voluntary responder scheme to the largest and most progressive in the country with over 8,900 volunteers, responding to emergencies ahead of an ambulance. I believe the 999 Academy has been one of the most significant initiatives aimed specifically at young people in the South West for many years. He has a great deal to be proud of as we are of him for receiving this award.”

Tony Fox Chairman, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust said; “Congratulations to Rob on receiving this very much deserved award in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. It is a very much deserved accolade for all the hard work, effort and commitment to others, particularly engagement of volunteers and education. Rob shows great leadership with what he has achieved and we are very proud of him and grateful for all his hard work for the Trust.”

999 Call Handler Olivia Up for Hero Award

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler has been shortlisted for a national award, after she saved a seriously ill police inspector.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Olivia Molyneux, is in contention to win the Patient’s Choice accolade at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards, following her efforts to help off-duty official Dave George.

Olivia said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been chosen by a patient, let alone shortlisted, for a national award. It’s so lovely of him to make such an effort to acknowledge my contribution towards the lifesaving care he received.

“Staff in the Control Room don’t often get thanked for the hard work we do 24/7, 365 days a year on behalf of the Trust for patients. So, to be recognised in this way is such an encouragement to us all.”

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Inspector George collapsed in hot weather during August 2018 on the South West Coast Path between Penzance and Land’s End in Cornwall.

The 43-year-old had been walking for several hours during a training exercise for a charity walk.

He experienced “crushing” chest pains and was struggling to breathe, but managed to call 999 to get help.

To listen to the 999 call, click here.

Olivia, who joined SWASFT in August 2017, assessed his condition and stayed on the phone to him while crews travelled to the remote location.

Inspector George was transported by land ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with serious heat stroke. He made a full recovery.

Inspector George later wrote a letter to SWASFT Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, in which he expressed “sincere thanks and praise” for Olivia’s role.

He then made a special visit to the SWASFT North Clinical Hub near Bristol in October to thank her in person.

“I knew I was in trouble,” he said. “I was on my own in a remote location, and needed help. My chest pains were quite intense. So it was a desperate situation. But the response from everyone was amazing.

“Olivia was totally exceptional. She dealt with a very difficult and challenging call in the most superb way.

“I wanted to thank her personally, because call handlers don’t tend to get the recognition they deserve.

“The kindness and calm professionalism that she showed deserved special praise. I don’t think I could have got through that hour alone without her staying on the line and talking to me.”

The Unsung Hero Awards are intended to shine a light onto the hard work that non-medical staff and volunteers of the NHS strive towards on a daily basis.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on 1 March.

Paramedic's advice ahead of cold weather warning

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are reminding people to take care over the next week as another Yellow weather warning has been issued for the South West.

The Trust sees an increase in cases of slips, trips and falls during icy conditions as well as an increase of road traffic collisions due to black ice and people driving too fast in the cold weather. If you do need to go out, try and wear the appropriate footwear and warm clothing and make sure you take care and respect the roads.

It is also time to stock up on any prescription medicines and visit your pharmacy so you can self-medicate. Look in on your vulnerable neighbours and relatives to check they are safe, warm and have enough food.

NHS guidelines suggest that if you are 65 or over, or have a health condition, such as heart or lung disease it is best to heat your home to at least 18C (65F). Cold weather can be a problem when the temperature drops to below 8C, some people are more at risk of heart attack, stroke, flu, pneumonia, falls and hypothermia.

Using the ambulance service in the correct way will help us ensure that patients with a time-critical, life threatening condition are reached as soon as possible. Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include, visiting your GP or local pharmacy, visiting a minor injury unit, a NHS walk-in centre or calling NHS 111.

Young Boys Praised For 999 Call

Elliot Isaac 999

Two young brothers have been commended for knowing what to do in an emergency.

Their dad, March Le-fey, had a seizure caused by hypoglycaemia (low blood sugar) at the family home in Whipton, Exeter.

He had collapsed, was unconscious, and needed urgent medical help.

Six-year-old, Isaac, called for help from his nine-year-old brother, Elliot who dialled 999.

Elliot told South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler Lucy Frith exactly what was wrong.

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The boys and their family made a special visit to the SWASFT Control Centre in Exeter on Thursday 31 January to be formally acknowledged for their actions.

They were presented with certificates on behalf of SWASFT Chief Executive Ken Wenman to congratulate them for what they did.

Elliot said: “Issac came sprinting up the stairs. It was scary, but I knew I had to call 999.”

March, who has regular seizures, said: “I can’t remember the incident, but I became aware of what had happened when I came round.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the boys. They were so brave; they were phenomenal.”

Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Lucy, praised Elliot and Isaac for their response to the emergency.

She said: “Both boys were outstanding. Isaac knew it was serious, and ran to tell his brother. Elliot was so grown up and knowledgeable on the phone. They acted so quickly and maturely in a life-threatening situation. Afterwards I was speechless.”

SWASFT urges 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.

The incident happened in November when March, who is Type 1 diabetic, was preparing breakfast for Isaac.

March realised he was having a hypo, and alerted Isaac who woke-up his brother.

Elliot first called his step-dad Ashley Curtis who works as a SWASFT paramedic, and Ashley told him to call 999.

Mum Liv, who is a registered nurse, returned home from a night shift moments later to find March lying on the floor and Elliot on the phone.

Paramedics soon arrived to assess March, who stopped fitting and didn’t need to go to hospital.

Elliot wrote a letter to SWASFT on behalf of him and Isaac thanking staff for “saving” their dad.

He said: “I called you and told you that my dad has Type 1 Diabetes, and was having a hypo. I told you where I live, and my name and age. Then you came and saved him. Thank you for saving our dad.”

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