ALF 2019: Plotting the Future for UK Ambulance Services

By Joseph Heneghan, Editor.
Published in Ambulance Today, Issue 2, Volume 13, Mad World, Summer 2019

Organised by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), the Ambulance Leadership Forum (ALF) brings together senior managers, international EMS leaders, suppliers and a host of others to address how best to improve ambulance services through new approaches to leadership, management and care.

Each year, all involved join forces to share ideas and best practice in a supportive and high-profile environment.

This year’s ALF was yet again a roaring success. Hosted at Chesford Grange in Warwickshire, leaders and innovators from across the UK and beyond arrived to exchange ideas and review the previous year’s progress.

In accordance with tradition, the two- day forum held a Gala Awards dinner on the first evening, handing out awards and giving some much-deserved recognition to those individuals and groups who have set new standards in regard to the diligence and commitment they apply towards their work.

The awards recognised the high levels of professionalism, compassion and capability which they have exemplified during the past year.

In addition to this, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) also made the decision to accept academic abstracts for the first time this year which saw some particularly interesting submissions — a great opportunity seized by AACE to stimulate discussion on new ideas and findings.

And following from last year, the forum finished with two additional days being devoted to the Global Paramedic Leadership Alliance, which focused upon the impact of organisational culture on employee mental health.

ALF attendees were comprised of many high-ranking ambulance personnel from around the world


Beginning with the presentations, which comprise the main body of ALF, the event saw just under forty individual speakers. A snapshot of some of the key presentations is as follows:

Chris Hopson, CEO of NHS Providers spoke about the constantly transforming landscape of EMS and how we can maximise its potential here in the UK through our reaction to those changes.

Looking at how the ambulance service could possibly play a bigger role in the wider health care system in order to alleviate pressures on emergency services and to introduce rapid improvement for performance results in urgent and emergency care pathways.

By moving closer towards new models of care which would focus upon macrolevel service provision (triaging at home and cutting down on hospital admissions) and by using sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICSs) Chris believes we can speed up the transition to system working across integrated local health and social care systems.

Helen Bevan, Chief Transformation Officer of NHS Horizons spoke about Project A — an ideas platform developed by NHS Horizons on behalf of the ambulance service aimed at giving frontline staff a voice in prioritising points of change and how those changes should be undertaken.

This comes from discussions between Helen and Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, following his decision to fund a twelve-month long ambulance improvement programme.

However, it also largely comes from a very accurate observation, outlined by Helen in her presentation, that actually most change is pushed forwards by a few pillars of the service from frontline staff rather than those in management—often because these few people are at the centre of a web of communication and influence.

Attendees form up to spell ‘NZ’ standing alongside AACE Chair Anthony Marsh and representatives of
St. John New Zealand to show solidarity with the victims of the Christchurch terrorist attack

They often know most, or all, of the staff, understand protocols, new legislation and managerial changes that affect the service and are usually incredibly helpful and supportive towards their colleagues.

Therefore, these are often the most incisive people to offer feedback which affects service provision, and are also often the most effective at garnering support and raising morale amongst staff.

Pam Brown, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at WMAS, gave a blunt yet understanding and humorous talk about our actual levels of awareness regarding bigotry, discrimination and equality, and even simple misunderstandings that can lead to significant impacts on recruitment figures.

If you have not yet seen it, then I would urge you to check out — a spoof site highlighted by Pam in her talk.

Michael West from Lancaster University spoke about how compassionate leadership — placing large amounts of respect and focus upon listening to staff and understanding them — ultimately makes the job of improving high quality care much easier and more effective.

Yvonne Ormston MBE, outgoing CEO of NEAS, spoke about the overall culture of EMS in the UK — it’s strengths, the challenges it faces, and how to overcome them.

Largely focusing upon how to build bridges between management and staff, and how to improve relationships between staff where things like tribalism (often seen following mergers for example) take place, Yvonne shared many of the sentiments also raised by Michael West — namely listening to staff, maintaining raised visions and goals for high levels of quality of care, and focusing on cooperation and teamwork.

Lynn Woolls of WAS receives the Exceptional
Volunteer Award from AACE Chair Anthony

Finally, Sue Bergin and Abigail Pawlowski from NHS Improvement (NHSI) explained all about the NHSI Culture and Leadership Programme.

With fifty trusts supporting the programme and another fifteen currently receiving support as they start it, the programme focuses upon using staff feedback in order to better understand the culture of an organisation and identify any changes that are needed, recognising such cultures as symbiotic with the workers that comprise them.


As mentioned earlier, this year also saw the presentation of various research abstracts.

Peter Easton-Williams of SECAMB delivered an incredibly well-presented qualitative study of the perceptions of current clinical performance feedback of UK paramedics and their attitudes towards patient outcome feedback.

Dr Tim Edwards of LAS spoke about how we can work to maximise the contribution of Advanced Paramedic Practitioners.

Head of Professional standards at the College of Paramedics Liz Harris identified factors affecting staff retention, a particular issue for EMS providers internationally.

John Miller from WMAS spoke about the risks of placing too many roles onto managerial positions and role conflict amongst service managers.

And finally, Steven Scholes presented a fascinating and in-depth abstract on the suitability of the Manchester Triage System in triaging patients and referring them into clinical pathways from the scene as a paramedic.


Day two saw the remainder of the presentations started by Kris Gagliardi and Daniel Ohs from St John New Zealand explain the challenges that come with taking on new managerial positions, especially in an organisation which sees clinical leadership roles at a relatively young age, and how these challenges can be approached.

Snapshot of the AACE Gala Dinner & Award Ceremony — an excellent chance to network and make new friends

Mark Gough, Senior Ambulance Lead at NHS Improvement, spoke about the Carter Report and specifically how we can apply these findings to improve operational performance and efficiency.

Ian Hough, Director of the Ambulance Radio Programme explained the latest from the £390 million programme designed to replace outdated comms on a national scale.

Jennifer Izekor from Above Difference delivered an engaging presentation on cultural intelligence and diversity, pointed out the many benefits of prioritising cultural diversity and why it should be taken seriously.

Dave Etheridge OBE from Greston Associates Ltd and Graham Holland from ORH revisited the age-old discussion of response times.

Phil Collins, Head of IT at WMAS, explained the benefits of digital transformation within the ambulance service.

An incredibly important presentation, I thought, came from Jonny McMullen, Control Services Trainer at NIAS, who spoke about identifying stress amongst our dispatchers and how to tackle it.

The highly esteemed AACE awards, recognising devotion, skill, leadership and morale across all levels of EMS

A number of other fascinating and thought-provoking presentations also took place to round off the conference, each of which pointed towards very promising attitudes towards further development and evolution:

  • Philip Astle and Volker Kellerman from SCAS spoke about the inherent value of collaborative innovation
  • Rob Crossman (Working Time Solutions) and Chris Nelson (chair for UNISON South West and Allied Health branch) delivered examples of how to improve and optimise rosters
  • Jock Crawford from YAS and Anna Price from EEAS delivered a powerful presentation about what Freedom to Speak Up data could reveal about cultures within English ambulance trusts
  • Rob Lawrence, Chief Operating Officer of Paramedics Plus, came all the way from California to share the observations he has made on his travels between the UK and US
  • And a group presentation from Brigadier Matt Blazeley, Commandant of the Royal School of Military Engineering, Sue Budden from London Fire Brigade, Nick Chapman CBE from holdfast Training Services, and Samir Maha from Babcock International all presented a talk on using partnerships with other frontline services in order to deliver effective solutions and lessons concerning best practice.


Finally, the event rounded off with the Global Paramedic Leadership Alliance (GPLA) which focused on the mental health and wellbeing of staff and how to promote resilience and support.

The summit saw a gathering of leaders from AACE, the Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA, which oversees Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea), the National EMS Management Association from the USA, and the Paramedic Chiefs of Canada.

One of the many highly significant ALF lectures: each one is invariably packed full with attendees

This follows talks from the inaugural GPLA summit also held last year following ALF, where the attendees committed to improving leadership through identifying and promoting initiatives which promote psychological health.

A ten-step framework was created, designed to significantly reduce the likelihood of psychological harm to staff stemming from workplace factors:

  1. Promote a positive mental health culture in the workplace through leadership, communication, policy and procedure, environment and work/job design.
  2. Reduce stigma around mental health conditions and psychological stress in the workplace.
  3. Improve the mental health literacy of the workforce.
  4. Develop the capability of staff to interact with and help someone experiencing a mental health crisis, from identification through to return to work.
  5. Ensure that an integrated approach to mental health and wellbeing is woven through the workplace and that leadership at all levels model behaviours and practices that promote a mentally healthy workplace culture.
  6. Share examples of best-practice and effective initiatives between services.
  7. Collaborate to ensure staff, during each phase of their career, have adequate self-awareness, knowledge and support in relation to managing their personal mental health and psychological stressors.
  8. Implement systems that provide the service with early notification of potential psychological harm related risk.
  9. Collect, monitor and respond to data that evaluates the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce and the possibility of psychological harm occurring.
  10. Seek internal/external specialist expertise when necessary to achieve improved mental health and wellbeing outcomes for the workforce.

As you can plainly see, this year’s forum and the following GPLA summit were a huge success.

As well as a great deal of progressive views being shared, the event also saw an impressive footfall with interesting and innovative ambulance leaders from a wide mix of different continents and countries, a well-chosen selection of friendly and interesting exhibitors and, most of all, a genuine eagerness to change culture and introduce new ideas wherever possible aimed at increasing the overall wellbeing of staff and maximise the potential for service delivery.

An excellent four days all round, and I already look forward to seeing what 2020 brings.

Celebrating Purim 2020 in Israel: MDA’s Recommendations For A Safe Holiday

The holiday of Purim is just around the corner, and preparations are well underway.

Dressing up as Anna, Elsa, Aladdin, Spider-Man or maybe a Unicorn? What is most important, is that you do it safely and without creating any unnecessary risks.

Each year, MDA teams treat numerous injuries, resulting from playing with dangerous toys, wearing costumes that do not meet the required safety standards and alcohol consumption.

In the past year, MDA teams provided medical care to 13 children, teenagers and adults who suffered injuries to the face and limbs, as a result of playing with firecrackers.

Just last week, a 13-year-old boy from Herzliya was injured by an exploding firecracker. MDA medics and paramedics provided medical treatment and evacuated him to the hospital, suffering from severe limb injuries.

MDA Director General Eli Bin advised that, “In order to keep the holiday cheerful and avoid unnecessary injuries, I urge parents to prevent their children from playing with explosives and wearing improvised costumes.’

“Every year, we treat children and teenagers who have been injured as a result of playing with various forms of explosives. These are avoidable injuries.’

“In addition, parents must be aware of the dangers of alcohol consumption amongst the youth, and explain to them the dangers involved. MDA wishes all of Israel a safe and happy Purim holiday.”

Magen David Adom’s Safety Recommendations For Purim:

Homemade costumes:

1.     When preparing costumes at home, make sure to use non-combustible materials. Cotton, wool, natural feathers and plastic sheets are examples of combustible materials that could endanger the person wearing the costume.

2.     Make sure you purchase costumes with a label indicating fire resistance.

3.     Ensure that the costumes are being tested at the Israeli Standards Institute and comply with ID 562 (Toy Safety).

4.     Make sure that the costume does not press tightly on the body, and that one can move freely within, without fear of entanglement, fall or tripping.

5.     Avoid costumes that include laces, ropes and wires over 20 cm in length, which can wrap around your neck and cause choking.

6.     In costumes for toddlers, it must be made sure that the costume does not include small accessories, which can be torn off and enter to the child’s mouths, which can lead to choking.

7.     Do not approach any source of fire with a costume, for fear of igniting a fire. Keep away from ovens, burning stoves, burning cigarettes and more.

8.     Be very careful regarding different sprays. Hair spray and snow spray, for example, are highly flammable and should not be sprayed on the face, body or near a fire source for fear of rapid flare and irreversible injury. Note that it is recommended to purchase only sprays embossed with the signature of the Israeli Standards Institute.

9.     Costume accessories, such as swords or knives, should be made of soft materials that cannot injure their users and those around them.

10.Costumes must be washed according to the manufacturer’s instructions only. Washing that does not comply with the manufacturer’s instructions may impair the durability of the costume.

11.Make sure that only the Purim makeup approved by the Ministry of Health is used.

12.Avoid using masks without proper vents, which can cause suffocation.

13.Roads should not be crossed when a mask is placed on the face, as masks significantly reduce the field of vision.

14.Make sure that plastic rattles are intact and not cracked or broken to prevent children from being injured. In order to prevent choking, special attention must be paid to the small pieces that create the noise in the rattles.

Cap guns, fire crackers and explosives:

1.      MDA advises that all types of explosives are strictly prohibited for use. Rocket explosions, large firecrackers, and “explosive snake” explosions, can cause severe burns, eye damage, and even severed limbs.

2.      Do not use a toy gun that shoots plastic bullets. Resulting injuries include serious and irreversible damage to different organs.

3.      The paper caps must be operated using a toy gun designed for this purpose only. Do not transfer the capsules to any other gun type, or to any other tool, for fear of causing fire and damage.

4.      When purchasing a cap gun, make sure that the barrel has a safety stopper.

5.      Do not use combustion powders of any kind.

6.      Do not keep caps in your pocket for fear of them exploding.

7.      Do not shoot cap guns or any explosive toy near the ears and eyes. Doing so can cause a lot of damage, sometimes irreversible.

Mishloach Manot/ Deliveries:

1.     When delivering dishes intended for children up to the age of 5, do not place small toys or foods that may cause a child to choke, including: candy, round chewing gum and hamentashin (holiday cookies) filled with nuts, peanuts or almonds.

2.     It is advisable to wrap the toy before putting it in the package, so that it does not come into contact with food items.

What should be done in case of injury?

1.     In the event of a fire, the person injured should be laid down and rolled in sand or dirt, and the fire should be extinguished using a large amount of water or with a wet blanket. Be careful not to cover the victims head, for fear of suffocation.

Moreover, do not remove charred clothing and do not apply oily ointments to burns. The burns should only be cooled with lukewarm, running water, and immediately call MDA on the emergency 101 call center, or through My MDA App, which automatically detects your exact location.

2.     In case of snowflake spray entering into the eyes, rinse with plenty of running water, and do not rub.

3.     In case of hearing impairment, contact your doctor.

4.     In the case of an allergic reaction, remove the foreign material (for example; makeup). If an increased sensitivity characterized by difficulty in breathing, itching or swelling develops, the injured person should be rested, and the MDA teams called.

5.     A standard Magen David Adom first aid bag should be kept at every Purim party and every mass event.

In the Book of Megillah it says: “A great commandment to get drunk on Purim ‘to the point of loss of knowledge’. However, some take the scripture too seriously, and end up in a state of loss of consciousness and alcohol poisoning. Each year, MDA teams treat victims as a result of alcohol consumption.

With the rise in alcohol consumption, cases of alcohol-related violence and the lack of awareness of the effects of alcohol-related driving, Magen David Adom is seeking to warn the public, especially for the Purim holiday — Alcohol is allowed but it can be dangerous.  Proper drinking is done reasonably and wisely, and of course — if you drink, DON’T drive.

MDA mentions that the physiological risks associated with drinking alcohol include: foolishness, confusion, memory loss, severe loss of coordination, and increased fatigue.

In severe cases, the intoxicated person may go into a state of coma, and may stop breathing, leading to death.

In an emergency caused by excessive drinking of alcohol, the injured person should be kept away from dangerous places, such as a road, a balcony, electric machines and vehicles. If the injured person vomits, turn them on their side.

The patient should not be allowed to drink coffee, or any other liquid, as the loss of reflexes may cause aspiration allowing any fluid into the lungs and choking them.

If the patient is unconscious and is not breathing, immediately begin CPR and summon the MDA forces by calling the MDA 101 Emergency Dispatch Center, or via the “My MDA” App.

MDA urges Purim participants not to leave beverages unattended, fearing that poisonous chemicals can be put into them. In addition, avoid entering packed halls for fear of harm from overcrowding.

Parents of children? Pay attention: In MDA we ask you to pay attention and make sure that youth under 18 do not consume alcohol on Purim.

Warning and Statement
In no way do these detailed guidelines give you any power to treat or diagnosis beyond your knowledge in first aid. These guidelines do not replace professional treatment and care. In every case, you should seek professional medical advice.

It is important to undergo a CPR and first aid course through Magen David Adom.

WMAS Raises State Of Readiness Due To Record Number Of Flood Warnings

West Midlands Ambulance Service has increased it’s state of readiness in light of the developing situation with flooding now affecting many parts of the Region.

Historic levels of rainfall over Wales overnight has resulted in water now coming towards Herefordshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire, though many other parts of the region are also experiencing flooding to a greater or lesser extent.

The Environment Agency has announced that there are a record number of flood warnings across England.

All of the Trust’s 30 4×4 ambulances are available to respond to incidents along with specialist resources including the Hazardous Area Response Team who have specific training in working in water.

We are working with partners including local authorities, the Police, Fire and Rescue and the Environment Agency to support residents and protect the most vulnerable.


A major incident has been declared in Herefordshire as the county experiences significant and widespread flooding from rising river levels and deep surface flooding.

Herefordshire Council is opening rest centres for those affected. Please visit for more information and links to flood alerts and road closures.’


A major incidenthas been declared due to the River Teme expected to reach unprecedented levels.  Areas affected include Ludlow, Shrewsbury, Ironbridge and Shifnal


A major incident has been declared due to the flooding situation in Tenbury. River levels are expected to peak tonight.  Evacuations are now taking place. There are severe flood warnings on the RiverTeme in Eardiston, Tenbury Wells and Burford.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “It is vital that the public allow the emergency services and their partners to deal with the situation.  Please help us by not putting yourself at risk by travelling unless absolutely necessary.

“If you are in an area that has historically been affected by flooding, please ensure that you are up to date with the current advice available from the Environment Agency.

“For drivers, please do not drive through flood waters; we have already seen numerous cases of cars becoming stranded.  It takes remarkably little water to put you and your car at risk.”

General Advice

  • Don’t walk or drive through flood water and check your flood risk
  • Avoid any unnecessary travel
  • Please check on your neighbours, especially if they are elderly or vulnerable.
  • Check your flood risk 
  • If you come across road closed signs, do not remove them and certainly do not drive past them.  Remember, just 30cm of flowing water could be enough to move your car and an egg cup full of water could be enough to wreck your engine.
  • General driving conditions will be more challenging.

Welsh Ambulance Service Appoints New Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources

The Welsh Ambulance Service has appointed a new Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources.

Chris Turley has had a 30-year career in finance in NHS Wales, during which time he has served as interim Director of Finance at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board and Head of Finance for the NHS Wales Health Collaborative.

He led a radical overhaul of how organisations were funded following the reorganisation of NHS bodies in Wales, and the creation of the current seven Local Health Boards in 2009.

Chris Turley,
Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Resources,
Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

Chris, who is based in Cwmbran, joined the ambulance service in October 2015 as the Trust’s Deputy Director of Finance, and has been the interim Executive Director of Finance and ICT since February 2018.

Along with being the Executive Director of Finance, Chris will hold the portfolio for all of the Trust’s Corporate Resources, including Estates and Fleet, as well as being responsible for the Trust’s capital programme.

He will also act as the Trust’s Senior Responsible Officer for the continuing implementation of the 111 service in Wales.

Of his substantive appointment, Chris said: “I am delighted to have secured the Executive Director of Finance role on a substantive basis.’

“I am really excited about bringing the new Finance and Corporate Resources directorates together to deliver on a range of exciting projects ahead of us over the next few years.’

“I would especially like to thank the ICT and Health Informatics teams, alongside my finance colleagues, for their support over the last two years whilst I have been in the interim role.”

Jason Killens, Chief Executive,
Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Our ambulance service simply could not operate without its Finance and Corporate functions; without Chris and his colleagues, we couldn’t run a service or invest in the resources and technology we need to keep up with demand and keep pace with innovation.’

“Chris has been a hugely valuable asset to our organisation since he first joined us in 2015, and we’re thrilled that we could appoint him on a permanent basis.”

Chris’ appointment is the latest in a series of new appointments to the Trust Board.

In January, Andy Haywood took up post as Director of Digital Services.

Andy, a former Royal Navy officer, was appointed to shape and oversee an ambitious digital services strategy which will support the delivery of patient care and improve the experience of staff.

Claire Roche, formerly the Trust’s Assistant Director of Quality Governance, also took up the Executive Director of Quality and Nursing post following the retirement of her predecessor Claire Bevan.

A Running Marathon Miracle

Exactly one year ago, Shachar David (46) from Dimona was running in the Dead Sea Marathon, when his heart stopped beating, and he collapsed mid-race.

One of the participants in the marathon who happened to run next to him, was Meir Furmanski from Jerusalem, who volunteers as an EMT at Magen David Adom. He immediately began performing CPR, and saved David’s life.

Shachar David and Meir Furmanski

After intense rehabilitation, they had a heart-warming experience, when they ran the same marathon last Friday, this time side by side.

“Running the same run, in the same place, with the person who saved my life, was truly a remedial experience,” said Shachar David.

“If someone would have told me a year ago what I was about to encounter, I would not have believed it, but after the fact, it was clear to me that I had to get back to my myself, and I am proud to say that I was able to do that. “

Shachar David and Meir Furmanski

Meir Furmanski added: “It was a bit strange when we met at the starting point, but also very exciting to stand there together.’

“It’s amazing to see this miracle right in front of my eyes, and to know that I have taken a part in it. I have been running regularly for many years, but there is no other run, that both prior to, and during, I was so excited for.”

Mum Thanks Ambulance Service After Birth On M5: Father Delivers Baby

Joshua Mogg Delivers Son Harry On M5 Whilst On Phone To SWASFT Call Handler

A mum who gave birth on a motorway has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff who helped her.

Jayne Rowland, 36, was on her way to hospital when she went into the final stages of labour in roadworks on the M5 in Somerset.

Her partner Joshua Mogg, 29, called 999 minutes before baby Harry was born in their car on the southbound carriageway near junction 24.

Paramedics and police arrived to find the family stopped on the inside lane of the motorway because there was no hard shoulder.

“Delivering my baby son on a motorway is probably the best thing I’ve done in my life. I feel it’s given me a stronger bond with Harry.”

Jayne, Joshua and Harry made a special visit from their home in Street to Taunton Ambulance Station on Thursday 13 February to thank the responders in person.  

Jayne said: “I’d had discomfort for around three weeks, and didn’t feel anything different when I woke up that day. But the pain got worse and worse in the car, so I asked Josh to pull over.

“Everything seemed to happen very quickly. The call handler talked it through with us, and then the paramedics and police arrived. They all made such a difference. We’re so thankful.” 

The incident happened on 1 November when Jayne and Josh were travelling to Musgrove Park Hospital in Taunton for her to be induced at 9.30am.

Jayne, Harry, Joshua and Benjamin at Taunton Ambulance Station with the SWASFT staff who responded to Joshua’s call

But Harry was born in the front passenger seat of the car at 7.57am, just 30 minutes after they left home.

He weighed 7lb 8oz at birth, and is brother to eight-year-old Benjamin. Harry’s birth certificate has his place of birth recorded as ‘M5’.

Jayne, who works as a teaching assistant, said: “I just wanted to get to the hospital safely and on time. It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised how much danger we were in, because there was nowhere safe to stop in the roadworks.” 

Jayne praised a lorry driver who shielded them from traffic by stopping and putting his hazard warning lights on.

She also expressed thanks to the Avon and Somerset Police officers who returned their car and personal possessions from the scene to them.

Joshua, who works as a tree surgeon, said: “Jayne was my priority. So I was first trying to get her to hospital as quickly and safely as possible. Then I just had to get out of the car and get on with it.

“Delivering my baby son on a motorway is probably the best thing I’ve done in my life. I feel it’s given me a stronger bond with Harry.”

Call handler Jonathan Leaton talked Josh and Jayne through the unusual delivery.

Jonathan said: “They both did incredibly well throughout the entire call. They remained calm and followed every instruction which ensured the best possible outcome.”

Operations Officer Dan Wilsher was first on scene, before he was joined by Paramedic Simon White and Student Paramedic Alexandra Luxton.

Dan said: “It was a rather unusual incident to attend. I remember being very aware of the safety aspect, as Josh and Jayne’s car was in a live traffic lane. When I approached the passenger door, I saw a tiny little face wrapped in blankets looking back at me.’

“We made sure baby Harry was warm and well and that Jayne was comfortable before taking them both to the maternity unit at Musgrove. It’s certainly an incident I won’t forget!”

EMT Couple: Rescuing Lives Together Brings Us Together

Tom and Nechama Eisenman live together with their three children in Beit Shemesh and are often busy as ever racing to people’s aid either by ambucycle or with their own private vehicle as volunteers for United Hatzalah.

On a recent Friday afternoon, Tom was busy with Shabbat preparations when he was alerted to a child who had been struck by a car.

The dedicated volunteer dashed outside, hopped on his ambucycle and sped to the nearby address, arriving within just 60 seconds!

As Tom immediately began providing critical lifesaving intervention to the seriously injured 6-year-old boy, another United Hatzalah ambucycle medic arrived and assisted Tom in bandaging the boy’s wounds, affixing a neck brace for C-spine stabilization and immobilizing him.

Tom and Nechama after responding to what turned out be Nechama’s first call after graduating as an EMT the night before

About 5 minutes later, an ambulance crew arrived and joined in the rescue effort.

Tom administered Oxygen as the team worked feverishly to stabilize the boy’s condition before rapidly transporting him to the nearest trauma center.

In another incident, the following Sunday morning, a public bus suddenly jerked to a stop, sending a passenger flying forward. The woman screamed as she crashed down to the bus floor, suffering multiple injuries.

Alarmed co-passengers immediately called for help and United Hatzalah dispatch alerted its closest volunteers. Tom leaped upon his ambucycle once again and raced to the accident scene in record time.

Tom arrives on-scene to Nechama’s first emergency call

As he pulled up to the bus, he was surprised to see a very familiar face; his wife in her orange United Hatzalah vest.

Nechama had just celebrated her EMT course graduation the night before and this was her very first call. 

The husband-and-wife life-saving duo boarded the bus together and approached the injured victim.

The 45-year-old woman had suffered bruising from the fall and complained of hitting her head and of feeling weak and dizzy.

Nechama and Tom reassured the woman as they checked her vitals and treated her wounds. Having stayed with the woman until the arrival of an ambulance, the pair of medics parted ways until they would meet back home later that evening.

Since then they have been responding to calls together almost daily. 

Speaking about responding to calls with his significant other, Tom said: “Responding together as a couple is awesome. Doing something that I enjoy so much, assisting people and saving lives, is so much better when I can do it with the person that I love so much’

“For years I’ve been responding to calls on my own and now that Nechama has joined it becomes so much more meaningful to share these experiences with her.’

Tom and Nechama: two halves of the perfect team

“We speak the same language and when we respond it gives our time together a lot of meaning knowing that we at any moment we can, and often are, pulled away to respond to emergencies.”

Nechama further added: “What I love about volunteering with my spouse, is that it is really cool to see a whole new dimension of my husband’s personality, and for him to see a new part of mine.’

“Even though we’ve been married for nine years, volunteering together allowed us to see new parts of each other.

“It is also a combination of two of my favorite things.’

“I love being able to help people and being equipped to handle a situation that a few months ago I had no idea how to handle. I also love spending time with my husband and this way we can do both.’

“Just like in our marriage, we balance each other out and we can now bring that to the table in the EMT arena.’

“We each have different ways of how we interact with the patients and we compliment each other. It becomes a very holistic type of approach. He has his calmness and I have my empathy. We make a great tag team.”  

Mobile mental health unit expands London-wide to help improve care for patients

A pioneering scheme that pairs up mental health professionals with medics in response cars to ensure those with mental health needs get the right treatment is helping ease pressure on the NHS this winter.

For 12 weeks, five cars staffed by mental health nurses from NHS trusts around the capital and paramedics from London Ambulance Service will treat the physical and mental health needs of patients together.

The emphasis will be on linking mental health patients with the most appropriate treatment, including referrals to specialist care, and only taking them to A&E where this is necessary such as when accompanied by a physical condition.

The fleet is an expansion of a mental health car service launched in south-east London in November 2018 and will help alleviate pressure traditionally faced by the NHS in the final winter months.

The original service is estimated to have helped around 2,000 people suffering with mental health issues in the past year, with initial findings suggesting that the scheme could halve the 60,000 annual mental health hospital admissions each year.

The South East London pilot saw the proportion of patients taken to A&E more than halved from around 52 per cent to 18 per cent as more patients were treated effectively in their own homes or received other appropriate care.

Dr Trisha Bain, chief quality officer at London Ambulance Service, who has responsibility for mental health services, said:

“A&E is not always the right place for someone experiencing a mental health crisis, and can even be stressful or traumatising.

“This pioneering service is helping to ensure we provide the right and best possible care for people with mental health issues and is one of a number of ways we are safely reducing the number of people taken to hospital unnecessarily.

“Winter is traditionally a busy time for the National Health Service and this boost to our successful service will help us further refine how we deliver these services in London.”

Martin Machray, Interim Chief Nurse for the NHS in London, said:

“Patients experiencing health crises often need the support and knowledge of a mental health professional as well as a paramedic.

“By treating both their physical and mental health needs, we can provide a better and more rounded care approach – and I am proud that London is leading the way with this wonderful project.”

The roll out is a significant boost to current staffing with 15 new nurses from nine mental health trusts in London and 15 London Ambulance Service paramedics delivering the service until the end of April.

Matthew Trainer, Chief Executive at Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust which is one of the mental health trusts providing nurses for the project, said:

“There aren’t many cases where someone with a mental health problem will benefit from being taken to a busy A&E by ambulance. We want to get the right care to people in the right place as quickly as we can. The mental health cars are helping us do that.”

It has been made possible by winter resilience funding of £350,000 from NHS London to secure the additional nurses while London Ambulance Service has provided the vehicles and additional paramedics.The lessons of this winter’s temporary pan-London roll-out will be used to inform and plan the future of this Service.

Senior Health Officials From Costa Rica Visit Magen David Adom

The President of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, Dr. Román Macaya Hayes, the Israeli Ambassador to Costa Rica, H.E Amir Ofek, Costa Rica’s Honorary Consul in Israel, Mr. Natan Aluf and other senior health officials from costa Rica visited Magen David Adom on Sunday February 9th to meet with MDA’s own senior officials.

As part of the visit, they toured MDA’s National Operations Center in Kiryat Ono, and received an overview of the organization’s work during routine and emergency operations.

The officials were impressed with the advanced technology used by Magen David Adom, the ability of volunteers to operate and the community involvement in the rescue activities.

As part of their visit the guests had te opportunity to closely observe the  organization’s response vehicles, including an ambulance and a Mobile Intensive Care Unit.

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in knowledge and experience exchange between senior medical officials from around the world, who are impressed by the capabilities of Magen David Adom and MDA senior representatives who participate in various international forums and visit other services.

President of the Costa Rican Social Security Fund, Dr. Román Macaya Hayes stated: “We were very impressed by what we saw today at Magen David Adom, the technology and the organization’s impressive ability to treat as quickly and professionally as possible any patient or injured person.’

“We were also impressed by the involvement of volunteers first responders, who initiate life-saving medical care even before the arrival of the ambulance. We hope to continue the cooperation with Magen David Adom and even strengthen it, in order to save lives. “

MDA Director General, Eli Bin, further commented: “The medical and technological capabilities that we constantly develop in MDA for the sake of saving lives in the State of Israel are among the most advanced in the world.’

“Every time senior medical officials in the world come to Israel, share information with us, in order to improve the ability of both parties to provide life saving care to the seriously sick injured quickly and professionally, this is very exciting and gratifying.’

“We were honored to have hosted a delegation of senior health officials from Costa Rica at Magen David Adom, Israel’s national rescue organization, and I thank them for their visit. “

Comic Strips To Combat The Bullies

February is LGBT History Month and the Welsh Ambulance Service has enlisted the help of a talented comic book artist to help in the celebration.

David Llewelyn, founder of Red Dyfi Dragon Comics, has created a series of characters and comic strips which sensitively address issues such as bullying, hate crime and assault on ambulance staff.

Learning Disability Community Champion and artist David Llewelyn with his 2019 Mirror Award won for his comic.

Rainbow Shooting Star is one such comic strip which broaches the subject of discrimination against people in the LGBTQ+ community, and will be promoted via the Trust’s LGBT network during February.

Speaking of his voluntary work, David said: “I am very proud to be with the ambulance service.

“I’ve always wanted to help vulnerable adults and children to be safe and to encourage them to believe in themselves.

“Everybody is entitled to live like everybody else.”

David attends Cyfle Newydd Day Centre in Machynlleth and volunteers as a Learning Disability Community Champion for the Trust’s Patient Engagement and Community Involvement Team, whose work involves meeting community groups with protected characteristics and spreading key health and service messages in a way that is engaging and understandable.

David’s comics even won the 2019 Mirror Award (Idea Category), hosted by All Wales People First, a peer-led advocacy service for people with Learning Disabilities.

“I have always wanted to do things with comic book writing,” he said.

“What inspired me to do my comics was that I have a DVD called Charley Says and it has all the old safety adverts from the 60s and the 70s.

The Rainbow Shooting Star (Part 1) by David Llewelyn, Learning Disability Community Champion and Artist

“It gave me an idea to use my character the Red Dyfi Dragon to introduce safety messages.”

Through research, the Patient Engagement and Community Involvement Team have also formulated a series of flash cards and a pictoral quiz to help champions spread the ‘Choose Well’ message in healthcare. 

Key messages like when to call 999 and when not to, when to use the 111 service and when to visit your GP or pharmacist are covered.

The Rainbow Shooting Star (Part 2) by David Llewelyn, Learning Disability Community Champion and Artist

The team are also working with a number of groups to develop training materials to enable staff to respond and engage people better during emergencies.

The team will host an event in Lampeter in June, the first to cater for people with moderate to severe learning disabilities. 

For more information on the team’s learning disability engagement work, email

Visit David’s Red Dyfi Dragon Facebook page at