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Welcome to SWASFT

September 2019

Salisbury 999 Emergency Services Day

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) will be joining a ‘999 Emergency Services Day’ in Salisbury to give people a taste of life on the front line.

Paramedics and ambulance crews will showcase their vehicles, equipment and skills in Guildhall Square on Saturday 7 September from 9am and 3pm.

They will be accompanied by partners from Wiltshire Police and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

The event will feature frontline resources including rapid response cars, ambulance vehicles, the air ambulance, and motorcycle response units.

Volunteer Community First Responders will also be available to talk about their role within SWASFT.

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People will have the opportunity to chat with crews about their high-pressured emergency jobs, and how they go about treating patients in the community.

They will also be able to have a health check-up, take part in CPR skills sessions, and learn other first aid.

It will be second 999 day in Salisbury following the Novichok incidents in Salisbury and Amesbury last year.

Operational Officer Ian Parsons, said: “We’re looking to build on the massive success of last year’s event which illustrated how we serve the local community.

“Once again it’ll be a fantastic family-orientated time with plenty of hands-on opportunities guided by our frontline ambulance staff.”

Paramedics Begin Hazardous Environments Degree

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are beginning a brand new university course to help them to manage patients in hazardous environments.

SWASFT has been working with Plymouth University to create the Masters degree in Hazardous Area Response Paramedicine. This month, 16 paramedics will be the first to take up their places on the postgraduate course.

The Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) is a specialist unit that provides paramedic care in hazardous environments where previously clinicians would not be able to enter.

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The types of situations that a HART Paramedic can be expected to operate in include: firearms, chemical, water, confined spaces, at height, mud and unstable structures such as collapsed buildings.

Bianca Thomas-Mourne, HART Paramedic, said: "This is a really exciting opportunity for the HART speciality to acquire the academic accreditation that it deserves and to align with it's urgent and critical care counterparts in the ambulance service."

Each HART paramedic is already highly trained, having completed their basic HART training, which can take up to six months of intense training. They are then equipped with personal protective equipment relevant to the disciplines which can include items such as a drysuits, respirators, ballistic vests and ground kit.

The role and scope of practice for a HART Paramedic has expanded hugely since the role was created in response to the London bombings in 2005, with additional disciplines and clinical skills growing over time. Since 2016, SWAST HART has acquired additional clinical skills and began delivering enhanced care skills. This includes ketamine administration, finger thoracostomies and surgical airways. Furthermore, HART also provide cardiac arrest support for frontline paramedics across the South West, offering extra staff, equipment and skills for managing a cardiac arrest.

This will be the first level 7 bespoke further education course for HART in the country, which will provide the academic foundations for the skills and knowledge that HART paramedics possess, thus aligning HART with other specialist paramedics within the Trust.

Staff undertaking this course will also provide the HART teams with research opportunities through their university work. This will enable South Western Ambulance Service to begin a programme of research in relation to the work of the HART teams – something that has not yet been embarked upon.

For more information on the course, click here:

Mum of toddler thanks ambulance team

Would you know what to do if a child stopped breathing? When Zoe’s little boy turned blue and stopped breathing last month the mother of two needed urgent help for her toddler Toby.  Although Zoe had completed a first aid training course - when it came to the dreadful moment she went blank and felt helpless.

Zoe Larter, whose day job is Head of Charity for South Western Ambulance Service, said; “We called 999 immediately and the Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) was incredible.  She was calm, clear and explained exactly what I needed to do to help our son while the ambulance was on its way.”

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Zoe was instructed to lie Toby on his back and check his airways.  Then when he started breathing again Zoe was asked to say 'now' every time he took a breath. “The lady in the Control hub stayed on the phone with me until the crew were with me in the house - this gave me so much reassurance.”

When the emergency vehicles arrived four crew members came and took control of the situation treating Toby before taking him onto hospital.  It appears that Toby had suffered a febrile seizure which had stopped him breathing.  After a short spell in the hospital the toddler returned home and has made a full recovery.

On Wednesday 11 September Zoe met-up with the ambulance team who came to her rescue that day to thank them in person. “I’m so grateful to the team as in my role as Head of Charity for the Ambulance service I hear stories every day about how incredible our teams are and that weekend I saw it for myself, I couldn’t be more proud to be working in the same organisation as these heroes.”

The team who came to Zoe’s rescue were:

Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Control Hub – Natasha Pike
Paramedic Kirk Renshaw-Ralph, Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) Jason Davey
Paramedic Ricky Davies and Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) David Brook.

'Good Samaritan' App Saving Lives

More lives are being saved thanks to a new mobile app being used by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).

The GoodSAM app alerts trained responders to cardiac arrest incidents in their local community, so that they can provide lifesaving support before ambulance crews arrive.

For every minute that a cardiac arrest patient doesn’t receive CPR or defibrillation, their chance of survival falls by 10%.

The GoodSAM app is intended to increase the number of people who survive an out-of-hospital arrest.

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Rhys Hancock, SWASFT Clinical Lead (pictured), said: “The GoodSAM app is a fantastic innovation, which means our community of volunteers can reach the most seriously-ill patients sooner and help to save lives.

“Every second counts when it comes to cardiac arrest. That is why it is vital for these patients to receive intervention as early as possible.

“The app does not replace our ambulance response, but is an additional response to enhance the chance of survival for these patients. Once they arrive on scene, our crews work alongside the GoodSAM volunteer to provide lifesaving treatment.

“We continue to strive to improve the care we provide, and as GoodSAM responders continue to rush to the aid of their fellow citizens, more and more people will survive cardiac arrest.”

The system automatically alerts off-duty frontline staff and community first responders to a cardiac arrest within 500m of their location.

If they accept an alert, the responder is given directions to the scene of the emergency, as well as information about the location of the nearest defibrillator.

Following its launch by SWASFT earlier this year, GoodSAM has contributed towards various patients surviving cardiac arrest. These include:

A man surviving a cardiac arrest at home in Exmouth, Devon in July after a volunteer Community First Responder (CFR) received an alert through the app.
A man being resuscitated in central Bristol in July with the help of a GoodSAM responder.
A man being kept alive by a team of ambulance responders, including a GoodSAM responder, in August when he stopped breathing at home in Cheltenham. Following treatment at the scene, he was taken by land ambulance to hospital for further care.


1. The GoodSAM apps connects those in need with those willing to help by sending an automated notification about a medical emergency to nearby trained responders.

2. Good SAM is a community of people – Good Samaritans – happy to assist if they are the closest person to a medical emergency. They are trained in first aid and may have additional skills. They can maintain an airway, help stop bleeding and, if necessary, perform life saving, high quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or use a defibrillator.

3. The "SAM" in the name not only refers to Samaritan, but is also an acronym for “Smartphone Activated Medics”.

 For more information about the app visit the GoodSAM website.

Royal Opening of Air Ambulance Base

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) was delighted to support the official opening of a new purpose-built emergency operations base.

His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester officially opened Great Western Air Ambulance Charity's (GWAAC) new site in Almondsbury on Wednesday 25th September.

Among the 80 guests were SWASFT staff including Executive Officer, Neil Le Chevalier, and Head of Operations, Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response, Wayne Darch. 

For more information and photos, click here:

Body Cameras to Protect Ambulance Staff

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has agreed to trial body worn video cameras to better protect our ambulance crews against violence and aggression.

Crews in Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol will wear the cameras during the three-month trial starting in October.

The use of cameras is intended to deter abuse and obtain evidence of offences against our ambulance crews.  

If the trial is successful, the cameras could be rolled out across the Trust.

There were 1,285 recorded incidents of violent or aggressive behaviour towards SWASFT staff between August 2018 and August 2019, which is an increase of 24% compared to the previous year.

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Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “Like all our emergency services colleagues, our crews and control staff work in extremely difficult circumstances.

They are often under threat of attack or abuse, and staff members are assaulted every day. That is totally unacceptable.

“We want to take every possible measure to ensure our employees are safe at work.

“Using body worn video cameras will discourage people from abusing and assaulting our staff. They will also enable us to provide evidence of abuse or assaults when they do happen so the police can bring more prosecutions against people who assault our staff.”

Any recording not used as evidence will be automatically deleted after 30 days.

Emergency services across the South West launched the #Unacceptable campaign in October 2018 to highlight the increasing levels of abuse against crews and control room staff. 

The NHS Violence Reduction Strategy 2018 aims to reduce the number of assaults by giving staff more training to deal with violent situations and prosecuting offenders more quickly.

The Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 means those found guilty of attacking emergency services staff can be given a maximum prison sentence of 12 months. Those convicted of more serious cases of assault emergency workers can face up to two years in prison.

A recently study published by West London NHS Trust showed the wearing of the cameras led to a reduction in the seriousness of aggression and violence in reported incidents and modified patient behaviour in a positive way.

Motorola Solutions are supplying the Edesix* VB-300 body worn cameras for the trial. 

Fergus Mayne, country manager for UK and Ireland at Motorola Solutions, said: “South Western Ambulance Service joins a number of organisations around the world that are looking to video and in particular body worn cameras to improve public safety. We’re extremely proud to be a part of this important trial that will play a vital role in protecting ambulance staff who are on the frontline every day, saving lives.”  


1.    The attached image is of the Edesix VB-300 body worn camera. For more information, click here:

2.    In this video, produced by Devon and Cornwall in October 2018, emergency services staff share their experiences of abuse:

Smartphone App Helping Save Lives

Three simple words are helping South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) to find patients - and even save lives.

The what3words app divides the world into 57 trillion squares, each measuring 3m by 3m (10ft by 10ft) and having a unique three-word address such as ‘///slower.civil.twice’.

SWASFT adopted the mobile mapping system in its Control Room earlier this year to locate patients faster and more precisely.

Hundreds of 999 callers are using the free app to pinpoint their exact location, so crews can be sent to the right place.

David Fletcher, Head of SWASFT Clinical Hubs, said: “What3words is helping us to find patients more easily and quickly than ever before.

“Our callers are using it on a daily basis to tell our Control Room staff exactly where they are, so our frontline crews can pinpoint the location of patients in need of emergency care.

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“We cover 10,000 square miles, including many rural and remote areas, and we can spend vital time trying to find patients. This system means we can narrow down that search within seconds to a three-square metre area. By having a three-word address we are saving time, resources and lives.”

The what3words map shows callers their exact location with a corresponding three-word address, which they give to the call handler so help can be dispatched to the precise location. It is being used in addition to the existing computer system.  

SWASFT is encouraging people to download the app, so they can use it in an emergency.

The app uses GPS signal to identify the user’s current location and provide their three-word address. It means that once the user has the app on their phone, they don’t even need a data signal to obtain their location. 

999 Call Handler, Slade Stevens, said: “The app can be downloaded at the click of a button, and can make all the difference in an emergency when every second counts.

“I received a call from someone who was injured in a field, but didn’t know where they were. By using the app we were able to establish exactly where help was needed, so we could send resources straight to the scene.

The app has been vital in locating patients who have needed emergency help in fields, on moorland, in wooded areas, by the coast and in urban areas.

It has been used in various cases recently including:

  • Police used the app to tell SWASFT the location of woman who had gone missing. She was treated at the scene in South Devon and taken by ambulance to hospital for further care.
  • A man reported a heart problem on the South West Coast Path between Praa Sands and Porthleven in Cornwall. After he was located, a paramedic crew treated and discharged him at the scene.  
  • A girl was seriously injured after coming off a horse near Wells in Somerset. After she was located, crews treated her and conveyed her to hospital by air ambulance.
  • A young man was injured after falling from a bike beside the River Avon near Stoke Bishop, Bristol. An ambulance crew treated him and took him to hospital.
  • A person was trapped in an overturned vehicle on a crossroads in the Cotswolds north of Cirencester. Police called SWASFT to give the three-word address which enabled crews to treat and convey the patient to hospital.
  • A man had chest pains in a rural location near Chippenham, Wiltshire. Crews treated him and transported him to hospital.
  • A woman was injured after falling while rock climbing on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. Despite phone signal problems, the caller was able to provide a three-word address. With help from the coastguard, ambulance crews reached and treated her at the scene. She was conveyed to hospital by air ambulance for further care.

Chris Sheldrick, CEO and Founder of what3words, said: “It's been incredible to see many emergency services like SWASFT using what3words to find people more easily, saving them vital time in critical situations. You never know where exactly you'll be in that moment when you need to call 999, so we encourage everyone to download the free what3words app today to make sure they are ready to find and share their three word address when they might need it most.

People are reminded only to call 999 when someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life may be at risk.


Notes to editors:

The SWASFT staff member pictured is Emergency Medical Dispatcher Devon Headley.
What3Words is a global address system made up of 57 trillion 3m x 3m squares, each identified by a unique three-word address. People can refer to any precise location – a delivery entrance, a picnic spot, or a drone landing point – using three simple words. . For example, the entrance to Exeter Cathedral can be found at ‘‘///cloth.kings.title’.
The free-to-use system is available as an app and through the company’s website. To learn more about the app, watch this promotional video:

Ambulance Volunteers Receive Cheque Donation

South Western Ambulance Charity has received a kind donation from Wells Bowls Club to thank its volunteers for serving the local community.

Club President Jane Rossiter presented a cheque for £120 to the Wells Community First Responders (CFR) group on behalf of the charity at the club’s annual awards ceremony on Monday 30 September.

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Jane said: “It is a pleasure to raise a small amount of money to repay the huge debt that is owed to all of these volunteers by our community.”

CFRs are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents on behalf of SWASFT within their local communities. They respond to potential life threatening emergency calls where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate care. Their aim is to reach the patient in the vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives.

The Wells CRF group has been running since 2002 and has three active members. Each responder provides approximately 15 hours of voluntary emergency cover each week for their community on top of their day jobs. They are supported by the Ambulance Service Responder Liaison Officer, Lidia Griguoli, who is a Specialist Paramedic.

If you are aged over 18 years old and are interested in becoming a CFR, please visit:

South Western Ambulance Charity uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of SWASFT staff and volunteers. To donate to the charity, please click on this 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