MDA’s Wish Ambulance Fulfils Dream for 7-year-old Capt. Rafael Yotam

About four years ago, Rafael Yotam Cohen, who has cancer, fulfilled a dream using an MDA Wish Ambulance by flying in an MDA-Lahak emergency helicopter in the southern skies of the country. Recently, Rafael Yotam’s rare illness sadly returned for the third time, so his old friends at MDA returned once more to give him a day full of experiences upon a naval ship

The Magen David Adom Wish Ambulance project began volunteering in 2009, and to this day has managed to fulfil the wishes of thousands of critically ill patients. Recently they have been using a newly modified wish ambulance which was donated via the MDA Friends Society in Melbourne, Australia (headed by Ms. Glynis Lipson). Rafael Yotam’s wish was the first to be fulfilled through the new vehicle.

The fulfillment of Rafael Yotam’s first wish about 4 years ago had a positive effect on his medical condition, which coincided with an improvement in his health. Following this, Rafael Yotam’s mother, Ravit Cohen, decided to take an active part in the fundraising campaign for a new ambulancem, and even participated in a campaign in Australia.

Rafael Yotam at the helm

The Cohen family contacted MDA and told them of Rafael Yotam’s dream — and the organisation immediately joined the mission to help bring it to realisation. About a week ago, Rafael Yotam (7-and-a-half-year’s-old), a resident of Neta in the Lachish region, and the youngest of seven siblings, fulfilled his dream.

He arrived by MDA’s new Wish Ambulance at the naval base in Ashdod, where officers and fighters of one of the Navy’s Shaldag-class patrol ships were waiting for him with excitement and special refreshments and surprises.

As part of the special day, Rafael Yotam met the soldiers and officers of the navy, received an explanation about the ship and the weapons placed in it, and even set sail while sitting in the Captain’s chair and holding the rudder.

The Mercedes-Benz Sprinter type includes full intensive care mobile equipment, the first and only electric bed of its kind in Israel adapted for critically ill patients, and a specialised refrigerator for medicine.

Rafael en route with his mother and paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi, Shachar Hezkelevich, and Yonat Daskal-Dagan in MDA’s new Wish Ambulance

The compartments in the ambulance are hidden, in order to reduce the level of stress among the passengers and simulate normal driving conditions. The ambulance includes a place for the driver, two staff members, a patient, and three accompanying family members.

This first wish in the new ambulance was accompanied by paramedics Tomer Bar-Levi and Shachar Hezkelevich, as well as paramedic Yonat Daskal-Dagan who accompanied Rafael Yotam also on his first wish.

Yonat remarked: “I am doubly excited, both from the fulfilment of Rafael Yotam’s wish and the launch of the new ambulance.’

“When we set out on a [fundraising] journey in Australia, Yotam recovered after the first wish. We were very saddened to hear that he was ill again.’

“We created a special day in order to put a smile on his face, at least for a few moments. I thank the Navy for enlisting in the special mission and we wish him a complete recovery and full health.”

Ravit Cohen, Rafael Yotam’s mother, said: “Already at the fulfilment of the first wish, we became very connected to the MDA family and the staff of the Wishes ambulance and we remained in close contact.’

“After Rafael Yotam recovered, I flew to Australia to promote donations to MDA’s new ambulance, and to my delight the donations were successfully raised.’

“We asked him what he would like to do and he answered: “to sail a ship.” MDA immediately organised the special day with the Navy, which was charming and extraordinary.’

“The experience was amazing — the soldiers hugged us and were cordial and prepared special gifts for Rafael Yotam. He was happy and excited, and told everyone who het met about the past experience.”

On the fulfilment of the special dream, Rafael Yotam concluded: “I had a lot of fun, and I want to be a captain now. I wander around the house all day with the flag I received from the soldiers, like Superman. Thank you all.”

Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex Executive Director Recognised IN Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021

Leigh Curtis, Executive Director of Service Delivery for life-saving charity Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS), has been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021, receiving an MBE for services to the Air Ambulance Service particularly during COVID-19.

Leigh, who is a state registered paramedic, joined KSS in 2007 having worked previously for the NHS in frontline roles and as Executive Officer for the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb).

During his time as Director of Operations and Executive Director of Service Delivery at KSS, Leigh has pioneered many innovations, helping the charity to reach many more critically ill patients and significantly contributing to improved outcomes.

In Spring 2013, Leigh led the KSS team who collaborated with the Service for Emergency Rider Volunteers (SERV) to enable blood to be carried on board KSS’s helicopters and response cars so that patients can receive a blood transfusion at the scene.

Leigh Curtis,
Executive Director of Service Delivery,
Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS)

KSS was the first Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) outside London to be able to carry blood and the initiative is saving lives.

Also in 2013, and having added a new night-capable aircraft to KSS, Leigh oversaw the introduction of night flying, making KSS the first 24/7 HEMS in the country.

Since this time, KSS has carried out over 6,250 missions at night.

Testament to the significant achievements of the KSS service and operating procedures, in March 2020 the charity became the first HEMS to be rated Outstanding by the Care Quality Commission in all five of its inspection key lines of enquiry: safe, effective, caring, responsive and well-led.

This has been further evidenced in the charity’s response to the COVID6-19 pandemic. Leigh adapted the KSS service so that it has been able to operate safely 24/7 throughout — despite an inevitable increase in staff absence as a result of team members needing to self-isolate — and, working with the NHS and SECAmb, Leigh extended the charity’s role at the frontline enabling KSS to transfer 100 critically ill patients between Intensive Care Units across the KSS region.

Leigh Curtis MBE said: “I am deeply grateful to receive this Honour on behalf of KSS for services to the Air Ambulance Service particularly during Covid-19. I very much see this as an achievement for KSS as a whole.’

“The service we deliver each day is only made possible because of the tremendous work and efforts of everyone at Team KSS, including our Trustees, crews, support staff, fundraisers, our volunteers and of course our supporters. I cannot thank them all enough for all that they do for us and our patients.”

“Over the past year, we have all faced an unprecedented challenge, and I am immensely proud that we have not only continued to deliver our life-saving service 24/7 throughout but we have also extended our service.’

“In addition, we have continued our focus on pushing boundaries and setting new standards in life-saving pre-hospital emergency care through our research and collaborations, taking further steps towards realising our vision of an end to preventable loss of life from medical emergency.”

Dr Helen Bowcock, Chair of the KSS Board of Trustees, said: “Leigh’s contribution to the field of pre-hospital emergency medicine is exemplary and this Honour has been earned over the course of many years of tireless commitment and dedication to the needs of patients.’

“He deserves great credit for many important developments, most notably for the introduction of night flying, of carrying blood on board the aircraft and, more recently, for his astute leadership during the COVID crisis. I am delighted that he has been recognised in this way.”

David Welch, KSS CEO, said: “My sincere congratulations to Leigh for this incredibly well-deserved Honour. Leigh’s significant experience and expertise are crucial to ensuring KSS fulfils its purpose to save lives and to enable the best possible outcomes for our patients, and his caring, people-centred approach is valued by us all.”

“Not only is Leigh a wonderful asset and ambassador for our charity, he is a trusted authority in pre-hospital emergency care across the UK and beyond. On behalf of Team KSS, I would like to convey heartfelt thanks to Leigh for his hard work and years of service.”

MDA Launch New Facebook Feature to Promote Blood Donations

Adi Soffer-Teeni, the General Manager for Facebook Israel, recently visited Magen David Adom’s National Operations Center in Kiryat Ono to launch a new technology feature with MDA’s Director General, Eli Bin, which will be integrated into Facebook in order to help raise awareness of the importance of blood donations In Israel. It will also show users of the the of MDA’s blood services throughout the country, where donations can be made.

With the new feature, Facebook social network users will be able to sign up for real-time alerts about blood donation centres in their area, set up routine reminders to donate blood, and invite family and friends to donate blood themselves.

More than 100 million people worldwide have signed up to receive blood donation alerts in their area and use the feature to donate blood on a regular basis.

Director General of MDA, Eli Bin, with Adi Soffer-Teeni, General Manager of Facebook Israel

Magen David Adom points out that their blood services are required to collect 1,000 units of blood every day in order to have a sufficient enough supply for patients in need of emergency transfusions.

During the visit, Eli Bin explained to Adi the variety of technological means integrated into MDA’s advanced systems and introduced her to Facebook technologies which are already integrated with MDA’s control systems, such as a direct chat channels via WhatsApp with EMTs or paramedics based in call centres, and other functions which allow people to relay their location immediately and send images of the scene, patient, or useful landmarks.

Eli Bin, MDA Director General: “We are excited about Facebook’s initiative to launch on the International Blood Donor Day a feature developed specifically to encourage blood donations, and thanks to which we will be able to reach a wider audience and significantly increase the number of volunteer blood donors in Israel.’

“This is an important national mission that will raise awareness of blood donations and make the location of MDA’s blood donation centres accessible throughout the country.’

“This is an algorithm that can, literally, save lives. We thank and welcome the initiative, investment and exceptional result”.

Commendations for London Ambulance Service Medics Tackling Knife Crime

Medics from London Ambulance Service who educate school children on the realities of knife crime to deter them from carrying weapons have been commended by the police.

Paramedic Sukhjit Kadri and emergency medical technician Keith Plummer give youngsters in schools across east London honest and hard-hitting facts about what knife injuries look like and the life-changing impact they can have.

They also play a recording of a harrowing 999 call that was made after a fatal stabbing of a teenager.

Emergency medical technician Keith Plummer and paramedic Sukhjit Kadri show the Commander’s Commendations which they were awarded

The medics are part of a team who have worked alongside officers from the Metropolitan Police to educate hundreds of teenagers across Barking & Dagenham, Havering and Redbridge schools to stem the tide of gang violence in London.

Detective Chief Superintendent Stephen Clayman presented Sukhjit and Keith with a Commander’s Commendation at a small ceremony in Romford to recognise their commitment and collaborative work on tackling knife crime.

Sukhjit, who led the project for London Ambulance Service, said: “I’m so passionate about this work and it is so rewarding being able to give back to the community that I grew up in. I have been able to work in my old secondary school and sixth form.’

“It is a real honour to be recognised, but the real reward has been the feedback from pupils who have talked about the impact we have had.’

“We tell them about treating patients their age; our talks are emotional and relatable and we know it makes a difference.”  

The presentations are aimed at Year 9 pupils in an area which has a high rate of knife crime.

Keith said: “It is really nice and unexpected to get an award for a job I love doing. When you talk to the kids, you can see they are gripped.’

“We have knowledge and experience of the consequences of knife crime; of seeing people hurt and seeing their families.’

So we are passionate and enthusiastic about educating kids and we can say to them: this is what we do, this is what we see, this is real.”

Sukhjit and Keith deliver their workshops alongside police colleagues PC Halleron and PC Harris; and Nathan Levy, who runs the Robert Levy Foundation, a charity set up after his brother was murdered. All five were commended.

Det Chief Supt Clayman said: “The workshops have so much impact — they have resulted in students coming forward and giving information about other pupils carrying weapons.’

“This collaborative project is delivered alongside their other work commitments and they are passionate about their goal as ultimately they are trying to make youths in London safer.”

Paramedic Spat at by Patient in COVID-19 Pandemic Relives ‘Traumatic’ Ordeal

A Paramedic who was spat at by a patient at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic has re-lived the ‘traumatic’ ordeal.

Lisa O’Sullivan, who is based in Blackweir, Cardiff, was also verbally abused by the man she was attempting to treat in the city’s Callaghan Square last August.

Fortunately, South Wales Police officers were already at scene and arrested the man.

He has since been sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.

Lisa, 34, recalls: “I’d been called to reports of a man having a seizure on Callaghan Square – it was a high-priority ‘Red’ call so I made my way there on lights and sirens.

“As I tried to assess him, he swore and called me a ‘f*****g c**t.’

Lisa O’Sullivan

“I tried to diffuse the situation by telling him my name and explaining what I was trying to do, but then he spat at me, which caught my face and my arm.’

“Normally, I wouldn’t be fazed by something like this but I was stunned by it.’

“We were in the middle of the pandemic, and even though I was wearing PPE, I had no idea whether he had COVID-19, let alone what other blood-borne diseases he may be carrying.’

“It was traumatic. I felt hurt. I was there to help him and that’s how he treated me.”

At Cardiff Magistrates’ Court on 27 May, Daryl Robins pleaded guilty to assaulting Lisa contrary to Section 39 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and Section 1 of the Assault on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018, and was sentenced to 14 weeks in prison.

Lisa, originally from Cork, Ireland, and who joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2016, said: “I felt relief when I heard about his sentencing to be honest.’

“I’m just glad that justice has been served, and that the courts took this seriously.’

“I felt nervous for a while after the incident, especially when out as a solo responder.’

“The attack was short-lived – it was over in literally minutes, but the impact stays with you.”

Last month, the Welsh Ambulance Service launched its milestone new With Us, Not Against Us campaign in response to a rise in assaults on emergency workers in Wales.

More than 4,240 assaults were committed against emergency workers, including police, fire and ambulance crews, in the period April 2019 – November 2020, representing a monthly average increase from 202 in 2019 to 222 in 2020, or 10%.

Assaults ranged from kicking, punching and head-butting, to spitting, slapping, biting and verbal abuse.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our ambulance crews are there to help people, but they can’t fight for someone’s life if they’re fighting for theirs.

“Our crews might have no choice but to leave a scene if their personal safety is compromised, and this isn’t helpful for anyone, least of all the patient.

“A split-second act of violence can have a devastating and long-term impact on our staff, both physically and emotionally.

“The debt of gratitude we owe to our emergency workers has never been greater, so now more than ever, we’re asking the public to work with us, not against us.”

Pledge your support and join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #WithUsNotAgainstUs or #GydaNiNidYnEinHerbyn

Welsh Ambulance Service Colleagues Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours List

Two Welsh Ambulance Service colleagues have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List, it was announced this evening.

Andy Swinburn, the Trust’s Associate Director of Paramedicine, and Sue Owen-Williams, a Nurse Advisor for NHS 111 Wales, have been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal.

Meanwhile, former Chief Executive Tracy Myhill has also been awarded an OBE for her services to NHS Wales.

Tracy Myhill, former Chief Executive, WAST

They are among 1,129 recipients to receive an award – from caring neighbours, frontline and community heroes, to those supporting the UK’s Covid-19 recovery.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We’re beyond thrilled that Andy and Sue have been recognised in the Honours List, which is testament to their commitment to the NHS over many years.’

“These awards recognise the hard work and dedication of some of our very best ambulance professionals, and I’d like to extend a huge congratulations to our recipients.”

Sue Owen-Williams, Nurse Advisor,
NHS 111 Wales

Sue Owen-Williams joined NHS Direct Wales – now the NHS 111 Wales service – in 2005 as a Nurse Advisor after working as a Staff Nurse on a genito-urinary unit, having qualified in 1994.

Sue, who is based in Bangor, Gwynedd, has raised thousands of pounds for cancer charities through a series of gruelling walks, including Cancer Research UK’s Shine Night Walk and nine of Walk the Walk charity’s MoonWalks.

Director of Operations Lee Brooks QAM said: “Sue’s commitment and dedication to her fundraising efforts are testament to her tenacity.

“At work, Sue delivers excellent clinical advice for her patients at all times.’ 

“She works calmly and effectively, and provides kind and compassionate support to our patients and the team around her when they are dealing with complex clinical issues.’

“It is an exceptional professional that can pull together a team which is under pressure and recognise when her colleagues require support. 

“She is a remarkable, caring nurse and invaluable to our organisation.”

Meanwhile, Andy Swinburn joined Lancashire Ambulance Service in 1991 as an Ambulance Person and progressed to Ambulance Technician, Paramedic, Leading Ambulance Paramedic and Operational Trainer.

He was appointed Education and Training Manager in 2002, and in 2006, became the Professional Development Manager at North West Ambulance Service, where he led the development of a clinical leadership structure.

Andy Swinburn,
Director of Paramedicine,
WAST

It was during this time the Lancashire-native also obtained his MSc in Advanced Clinical Practice from Bolton University.

In 2013, Andy moved to East Midlands Ambulance Service to take up the role of Consultant Paramedic before securing his current position at the Welsh Ambulance Service in 2017.

He already has a string of awards to his name, including Health Service Journal’s Best Innovation Award, as well as the Allied Health Professional of the Year Award and Allied Health Professional Clinical Leadership Award in the Advancing Healthcare Awards.

Medical Director Dr Brendan Lloyd said: “Andy’s ground-breaking work around Advanced Paramedic Practitioners and leadership of the profession, both locally and through the College of Paramedics, means the Welsh Ambulance Service is recognised as one of the most progressive in terms of advanced paramedic practice.

“In 2018, Andy also implemented a 24/7 Senior Clinical Support service for staff so that no decision is made in isolation, which continues successfully today across Wales.”

Also recognised in the list is Tracy Myhill, the Trust’s Chief Executive from 2014-18, who has been awarded an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) for her services to NHS Wales.

Tracy said: “I’ve been so privileged to have had such an extraordinary and rewarding career – from receptionist to Chief Executive – working with so many exceptional and inspirational people.’

“I have been, and remain, passionate about improving the health of the population and health services for the people of Wales and whilst now retired from the NHS, I remain dedicated to supporting people and organisations to be the best they can be.’

“And to every receptionist out there, I say you too can achieve anything you dare to dream of.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “The Queen’s Birthday Honours allow us to pay tribute to all those who have gone above and beyond in their service to this country.

“Throughout the pandemic we have seen countless examples of every day heroes.

“From those using their expertise to help develop life-saving vaccines, which are now being rolled out successfully to all parts of the UK, to the people who have given time and energy to care for their communities.’

“We should take heart from the stories of those receiving honours today and be inspired by their courage and kindness.’

“May they be a reminder of all that we can achieve when we come together as a society.”

London Ambulance Service Medics Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Two of London Ambulance Service’s most experienced medics have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours announced on Friday evening (11 June 2021).

Consultant midwife Amanda Mansfield has been awarded an MBE for ‘Services to Midwifery’ in the latest round of honours, while clinical team manager Jason Morris received a Queen’s Ambulance Medal.

Amanda’s MBE comes less than three months after she was presented with a prestigious ‘Chief Midwifery Officer’s Gold Award’ to recognise the achievements of a career in midwifery spanning 30 years.

Amanda Mansfield,
Consultant Midwife and recipient of Queen’s Ambulance Medal,
LAS

Speaking of the honour, Amanda said: “I feel passionately that wherever women and their babies access care, it is the best it can be and a joyful experience.’

“This acknowledgement of my commitment and hard work is such an honour.’

“It’s a privilege to be in this role. I’m very lucky to have such a fantastic team at London Ambulance Service who make a real difference to mothers and babies in London and I know they will be pleased for me.”

Amanda joined LAS in 2015 where she has been instrumental in helping make sure mothers, babies, partners and families receive care that makes a difference across London.  Before her current role she worked as a strategic midwifery and maternity leader at the Royal Free Hospital in London and at Stoke Mandeville, Wycombe and Wexham Park hospitals.

Amanda recalled how she was so shocked when she received the email informing her she had been honoured, she thought it might be a scam.

“I couldn’t believe it”, she said. “I showed my husband Julian the email and said, ‘It says I’ve been awarded an MBE’. He said, ‘You have!’ ”

The pair marked the honour that evening with a glass of champagne. Now the honours are public, they look forward to celebrating the news with family.

Jason Morris,
Clinical Team Manager and Recipient of Queen’s Ambulance Medal,
LAS

Jason Morris’ Queen’s Ambulance Medal recognises 22 years of service at London Ambulance, the last 14 of which have been in a leadership role as a clinical team manager in south-west London.

During his time at LAS, Jason has championed many initiatives including the development of a ‘Red-Bag’ scheme for care home residents in Sutton which reduced hospital stays by up to four days and also reduced losses of patients’ personal and valuable items.

Due to its success in Sutton, this local initiative was then rolled out nationally in 2018.

Since 2009, Jason has also been seconded to London’s Air Ambulance and is currently one of its longest serving paramedics. He takes a leading role in training and developing the team of Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) doctors and paramedics.

He has also spearheaded improvements to the performance and efficiency of the London’s Air Ambulance dispatch systems by harnessing new technology. This included piloting GoodSAM instant on-scene video link technology to assess scenes and patients and assist the Service in sending the most appropriate resources in each case.

More recently during the Covid-19 response, Jason took a leading role in protecting LAS staff, volunteers and patients by ensuring medics had the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) and finding solutions when challenges arose.

After discovering he had been awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal, Jason said: “It’s a real honour to be recognised in this way and I’m quite overwhelmed.’

“From my point of view I’m just part of the team and it wouldn’t be possible for me to do my job every day without the support of everyone else around me.’

“Ever since I was a kid my ambition was always to help others and so this is my dream job. I love what I do and I wouldn’t ever want to do anything else.”

Speaking after the announcement of the latest honours, London Ambulance Service chair Heather Lawrence OBE said:

“We are so privileged at London Ambulance Service to be working with some of the most dedicated and experienced people in the NHS, and Amanda and Jason’s contributions to our Service and the people of London are a prime example of this.’

“I’m thrilled for both of them that their hard work and determination to keep improving patient care has been recognised with these prestigious honours.”

Strategic Head of Resilience Recognised in Queen’s Birthday Honours

Simon Swallow, strategic head of emergency preparedness, resilience and response at the North East Ambulance Service, has been awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal in the 2021 Birthday Honour’s list. He is the third recipient of the prestigious honour in the North East region.

The award is presented to acknowledge distinguished service in the ambulance service and is awarded in recognition of the enormous contribution and influence Simon has made in his 35-year career in the ambulance service and NHS.

Chief Executive Helen Ray said: “This is a well-deserved honour and on behalf of the Trust I am delighted that Simon has been recognised for his contribution to the ambulance service and wider NHS.’

“His commitment was evident early in his career when he volunteered to deliver presentations to numerous community organisations to raise awareness and educate the public on the aims of the ambulance service.’

Helen Ray,
Chief Executive,
NEAS

“He still volunteers in NEAS today as a family liaison officer during serious incident investigations. Many have commented to me how Simon often puts his feelings to one side to help and support the patients and their families.”

Simon Swallow, aged 51, is married and lives in Whitley Bay. He has three children. He said: “I am honoured, humbled and proud to have receive this honour. It’s been such a journey working these 35 years in the service and it still feels very special to work here. I enjoy it as much now as I did on my first day.”

Reflecting on his investiture, he added: “I have been involved since 1995 in looking after the Royal family. I’ve always been in the background so it will feel very different to finally meet them when I receive this honour.”

Simon was a cadet in the ambulance service aged 16 and qualified as a paramedic seven years’ later in 1993. He quickly received the appreciation from the Department of Health for his work on the reception, treatment and transportation of the four Bosnian casualties flown in to Newcastle by the RAF.

This later became the Reception Arrangements for Military Patients (RAMP) programme, transporting casualties from abroad to major trauma centres.

Simon has gone on to be involved in numerous multi-agency operations, some high profile, where his experience and skills have made a difference in both caring for patients and protecting the public, including:

  • Operation Hourglass: A pilot scheme which later became the national “booze bus” initiative
  • Operation Ginger: Simon set up the first of its kind partnership with police in North East
  • Raoul Moat manhunt: Ambulance commander during a high-profile week long incident
  • 2012 Olympics: In the North East and as strategic commander supporting London Ambulance Service in the National Olympic Coordination Centre
  • Great North Run: 26 years as a commander to the largest mass-participation event in the UK
  • World Transplant Games: Lead planner for medical cover at all the venues
Simon Swallow,
Strategic Head of Emergency Preparedness, Resilience & Response,
NEAS

In the early 2000s, Simon spent time teaching in Kuwait on behalf of NEAS and remains an advocate for raising awareness and supporting training for Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) contingencies. He was later involved in writing the CBRN manual and training for the CBRN clinical decontamination programme.

Simon went on to lead the early implementation of the Special Operations Response Team and trained 140 NEAS staff in early 2002. Five years later, he was again working alongside the Department of Health and national teams to trial “hot zone” working which later became the Hazardous Area Response Team.

All aspects of police and royalty protection planning and delivery has been led by Simon, including visits of prime ministers, presidents, popes, and monarchs.

Recently, Simon has led on the COVID-19 swabbing, anti-body testing and vaccine programme, working tirelessly to organise clinics and act as a point of contact for all staff and liaising with partners to secure vaccine appointments.

London Ambulance Service Announces New Appointments to Senior Leadership Team

London Ambulance Service have announced the appointment of two non-executive directors and an associate non-executive director to support its trust board building a world-class ambulance service.

Bob Alexander

During a career in finance and accounting spanning more than 30 years, Bob Alexander operated at board level across public sector organisations including the NHS, the Civil Service and Metropolitan Police.

Bob Alexander

He retired from the role of Deputy Chief Executive of NHS Improvement in 2018 but continues to perform numerous non-executive roles including Independent Chair of Sussex Health and Care Partnership; non-executive director of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust (where he is currently Interim Chair), and non-executive director of Community Health Partnerships Ltd.

He has an MBA and is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

 Speaking about his appointment, he said: “As an emergency service operating in one of the greatest capital cities in the world, London Ambulance Service is a high profile healthcare organisation delivering important services to Londoners and visitors alike.’

“I want to use my experience of NHS management and finance to ensure it is best placed to successfully manage its future sustainability in the face of the NHS recovery challenge as we emerge from the Covid pandemic.”

Dr Anne Rainsberry CBE

Dr Anne Rainsberry CBE

With a professional background in HR and management, Dr Anne Rainsberry has 32 years’ experience working in the NHS at local, regional and national levels.

Before joining healthcare and life sciences consultancy Carnall Farrar as managing partner in 2017, Anne was London regional director at NHS England for four years where she led major service changes in the capital including the reconfiguration of cancer and cardiac services.

Anne’s tandem role as the national executive lead for emergency preparedness — ensuring the NHS has resilience to cope with incidents from extreme weather to terrorist attacks — also brought her into frequent contact with emergency services including London Ambulance.

Previously, Anne was chief executive of NHS NW London and Deputy Chief Executive of NHS London and through her career has held a number of managerial NHS roles in London and the south east.

Anne was awarded a CBE in 2017 for services to the NHS.

Speaking of her appointment as non-executive director, she said: “London Ambulance Service has a huge opportunity to transform healthcare in the capital over the next decade and I am excited to be part of that work.’

“I am looking forward to supporting the board as they deliver on their strategy at such a profoundly challenging time for the NHS and its staff.”

Line de Decker

Line de Decker

For 24 years, Line De Decker has worked at senior levels in large corporations leading them through transformational change programmes.

Line has been with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for over 13 years in HR business partner roles of increasing responsibility before last year becoming Head of the GSK Transformation Office charged with preparing the organisation for separation and creating two new companies.

Before GSK, Line worked at DuPont, UCB and PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Speaking of her appointment as Associate Non-Executive Director, Line said: “I am delighted to be able to use my experience of cultural change and transformation to make a contribution to this wonderful city.’

“I want to help guide the board in their complex role as they lead the thousands of London Ambulance Service staff who make a difference to millions of Londoners each year.”

Heather Lawrence OBE, chair of the Trust board, said:“As we emerge from the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s vital we keep driving forward the strategic change necessary to fulfil our vision to be a world-class ambulance service.’

“I am delighted to confirm these appointments to the board. All three bring different perspectives, but each of them appreciate the importance of supporting our people as we deliver change during such challenging times.”

Dr Anne Rainsberry took up her role on 1 May. Line De Decker takes up her role in June, and Bob Alexander on 1 September.

Their appointments follow the departure of non-executive directors Fergus Cass and Jayne Mee.

Thanking them for their service, Trust Chair Heather Lawrence said: “I would like to thank Fergus and Jayne for their dedication and the advice they brought to the Board throughout this unprecedented time for London Ambulance Service.”

The London Ambulance Service Trust board is responsible for appointing non-executive directors through a process of open advertising and formal selection interview, and NHS Appointments then ratifies them.

Welsh Ambulance Service Celebrates Volunteers Week’ 2021

The Welsh Ambulance Service spent last week celebrating the work of its volunteers as part of National Volunteers’ Week.

Volunteers’ Week (01-07 June) is an annual celebration of the contribution millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

More than 800 volunteers give up their time to support the ambulance service in Wales, including 600 Community First Responders and 200 Volunteer Car Drivers.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “As an ambulance service, we depend hugely on the contribution of our volunteers, come rain or shine.’

“The commitment from volunteers through the COVID-19 pandemic in particular has been incredible, and we are enormously grateful to those who have stepped up to help us during these difficult times.’

“Volunteers’ Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight the work they do and to publicly thank them for their ongoing commitment.”

Volunteer Car Drivers use their own vehicles to transport people to routine hospital appointments, including renal dialysis, oncology and outpatients appointments.

In 2020/21, they made 46,745 journeys across Wales and covered more than a million miles.

Among them is former police officer Judith Sutcliffe, of Cemaes Bay, Anglesey, who was so inspired by a conversation with one patient about dogs that she decided to adopt her own.

Judith Sutcliffe

Judith, a volunteer of three years, said: “You get to meet such interesting people as a Volunteer Car Driver.’

“I took one lady from Beaumaris to Gobowen and had a really good chat about dogs.’

“When we reached our destination, she asked me why I didn’t have one if I loved them so much.’

“Later, my husband and I re-homed a beautiful Brittany Setter called Remy, and this is entirely down to a patient I met through the Volunteer Car Service.’

“I love this work and it’s a privilege to deliver such an important service.”

Pennie Walker, Volunteer Manager for the Trust’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service, said: “The Volunteer Car Service is an important cog in the wheel of the non-emergency service.’

“Volunteers get to know their patients, especially those they transport regularly, and it’s as rewarding an experience for them as it is for patients.”

Meanwhile, Community First Responders are volunteers who attend 999 calls in their community and administer first aid in the precious first minutes before an ambulance arrives.

They are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer first aid, including oxygen therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as well as the use of a defibrillator.

Last year, Community First Responders attended more than 9,500 emergencies, arriving at the scene of the most serious ‘Red’ calls in an average of six minutes and 44 seconds.

Jay Garden

Among them is Jay Garden, of Holyhead, Anglesey, who was inspired to join after his sister experienced a medical emergency which saw the family call 999 for help.

After two years in a volunteering role, the father-of-three has decided to pursue a career at the ambulance service and will begin his training as an Emergency Medical Technician next week.

Jay said: “In 2019, my sister went into anaphylactic shock at home.

“While I had a good level of casualty care training through my volunteering with the RNLI, nothing could prepare me to see one of my family members in crisis.

“When the paramedic walked through the door with the kit in his bag to save my sister’s life, it was a moment which changed my life.

“On the journey to hospital, I asked the paramedic question after question and that’s when I learned about becoming a Community First Responder.

“I signed up to the course and never looked back.

“It’s safe to say that volunteering has changed my life.”

Glyn Thomas, the Trust’s Alternative Responder Manager, said: “Every second counts in an emergency, and the role that first responders play in initiating that chain of survival can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“First responders don’t just provide life-saving support at events such as cardiac arrests; they’re also trained to deal with a broader range of medical emergencies, including non-injured fallers.”

The Trust is preparing to launch its first Volunteers’ Strategy, which sets out how volunteers will be better integrated into the workforce and better supported to deliver the role.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “Volunteering at the Welsh Ambulance Service has come a long way in the last two decades.

“There are new and exciting plans afoot as we further embrace our volunteers as part of the #TeamWAST family.”

As well as Community First Responders and Volunteer Car Drivers, the Trust also relies on the support of St John Ambulance Cymru as well as ‘BASICS’ doctors from the British Association of Immediate Care, who provide pre-hospital care at the scene of more complex emergencies.

At this time, the Trust is unable to accept applications for the role of Community First Responder, but applications for the Voluntary Car Service are welcome.