South Central Ambulance Service Volunteer Responders Win National Team Of The Year Award

South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Central Ambulance Charity’s volunteer responders have been named ‘outstanding volunteering team of the year’ at a national awards ceremony for their contribution to healthcare amid the challenges of COVID-19.

The 1,200-strong team of Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co-Responders were up against four other organisations for the title at the Helpforce Champions Awards 2021, with the winner announced online earlier today (Friday).

Volunteer responders are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by attending medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive.

SCAS Volunteer Community First Responders

They also assist with ongoing patient care at the scene and attend more than 30,000 incidents every year. They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the vehicle fleet of 51.

CFRs volunteer in their spare time — providing a minimum of 20 hours a month each — and cover a population of more than four million across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, and Oxfordshire.

Helpforce was set up by former Marie Curie charity chief executive Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett to accelerate the growth and impact of volunteering in the NHS by collaborating with organisations and rapidly sharing insights and best practice.

Its awards ceremony celebrates the invaluable contributions made by volunteers in the NHS and this year focused on the role they have played — and continue to play — in managing the impact of the pandemic.

“We are absolutely delighted our SCAS Community First Responder team has won this award,” said Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity.’

“The award recognises the enormous contribution each and every one of our CFRs and Co-Responders has made, not just over the last year but in every year.’

“We know the last year has provided many new and different challenges, but it has also shown the true loyalty, resilience, and passion of our volunteers — on behalf of everyone at SCAS we thank them all for their continued support and hard work.”

During the pandemic CFRs have continued to respond to emergencies and support patient care but have also taken on new roles such as introducing ‘Teapot’ refreshment vehicles to provide staff with hot drinks while waiting with patients at emergency departments.

They have also volunteered in the control room and headquarters to dispatch CFRs, helped distribute donated goods from hand cream to coffee across ambulance service sites and taken on a variety of fundraising challenges to raise money for additional equipment and new technology.

Volunteers who had to temporarily stand down due to age or their own health vulnerabilities did not give up and found new ways to support SCAS, joining specific bubbles and providing essential support outside of direct patient care such as helping with vaccination rollouts. 

Andy Long, a CFR based in Oxfordshire, said: “I have been a CFR for almost 14 years and I have loved every single second.’

“COVID-19 has been difficult and made life quite scary at times but we continued to do what we do because we know it makes a difference and is appreciated. This award is marvellous and to be recognised for something you do is really special — it means an awful lot.”

Sir Thom Hughes-Hallett, Helpforce Chairman & Founder

Sir Thomas said: “What a team. Driving black cabs down from London to protect patient transport patients in transit, they trained to dispatch community first responders from their call centre, crewed teapot refreshment vehicles and distributed donated goods from hand cream to coffee.’

“They helped their ambulance service reach even more patients, treating and leaving patients at home and supporting the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients throughout the pandemic.’

“How lucky we are to have them I applaud on your behalf the South Central Ambulance Charity and South Central Ambulance Service Community First Responders.”

Ambulance Service Joins Wave Of Veteran Aware Trusts Improving Care For The Armed Forces Community

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) has been named a Veteran Aware Trust in recognition of its commitment to improving NHS care for veterans, reservists, members of the Armed Forces and their families.

The accreditation, from the Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), acknowledges the Trust’s commitment to a number of key pledges, including:

•                Ensuring that the Armed Forces community is never disadvantaged compared to other patients, in line with the NHS’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant

•                Training relevant staff on veteran specific culture and needs

•                Making veterans, reservists and service families aware of appropriate charities or NHS services beneficial to them, such as mental health services or support with financial and/or benefit claims

•                Supporting the Armed Forces as an employer.

SCAS is now one of 99 members of the VCHA and is part of a growing number of NHS Trusts gaining this accolade.

Paul Jefferies,
Assistant Director of Operations,
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust

Paul Jefferies, Assistant Director of Operations at SCAS, said: “As a Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award holder, we in SCAS are immensely proud to be recognised as Veteran Aware.

“This accreditation reinforces the key working relationships SCAS has with the Armed Forces both as colleagues but also as service users.

“The team within SCAS has worked tirelessly to gain this recognition and to further support our service personnel and I would like to congratulate them for this well-deserved award.”

The VCHA is made up of a group of NHS providers and works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, service charities and the Ministry of Defence.

The alliance was set up following The Chavasse Report in 2014 which was written by leading orthopaedic surgeon Professor Tim Briggs CBE with the aim of improving Armed Forces and veteran care while raising NHS standards.

One of the recommendations was to establish a support network of trusts resulting in the development of the VCHA.

“These Trusts should be very proud of the commitment they have made to the service men and women of this country,” said Prof Briggs. “Welcoming them into the VCHA is a major step towards our aim of ensuring every NHS trust in the country is Veteran Aware.”

General Lord Richard Dannatt, patron of the VCHA and former head of the British Army, said: “Although the British Armed Forces are not currently engaged in high profile campaigns such as in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years, the health and wellbeing battles for many veterans continue.

“The VCHA is playing a major part in helping our brave veterans win their personal battles.”

Grateful Couple Thank Paramedics After Wife’s Horror Fish Tank Injury

A woman who suffered life-threatening lacerations to her neck after she tripped and landed on a fish tank has thanked the Welsh Ambulance Service crew who came to her aid.

Kathy Catt, of Blaenavon, Pontypool, has been reunited with paramedics Joshua Edwards and Charlotte Fry after a freak accident saw her fall down stairs at home and crash into a glass fish tank. 

Retired shop worker Kathy was making her way to bed when her daughter’s pet dog, who she and husband Paul were looking after, ran up behind her causing her to lose her balance.

In the fall which shattered the glass, Kathy suffered two long, deep lacerations to her neck and required four and a half hours of reconstructive surgery in hospital, plus the immediate life-saving care of Joshua and Charlotte.

(From left to right) Paul and Kathy Catt meeting Charlotte Fry and Joshua Edwards

Kathy said: “I had been shielding during the first COVID-19 lockdown and as things eased we had decided to go out to our local social club that night.’

“We returned home and saw to the dogs and I decided to retire for the evening and headed upstairs.’

“I don’t recall much about the accident itself at all really.’

“It’s all a blur.’

“I just know that thanks to Joshua and Charlotte I wake up every morning and am thankful I’m still here.’

“I have a lot of scarring and the one on my face has healed well.’

“Since the incident I have been doing some restorative exercises on my face muscles and can feel my ear again.”

Speaking of her paramedic heroes, Kathy continued: “It seems everything was on our side that night.’

“Joshua and Charlotte were simply amazing, as were all the staff and doctors at the hospital.’

“I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me.”

Paul and Kathy Catt recounting their experience

Husband Paul, 62 and a storage manager, recalled the night by saying: “I heard a crashing noise and saw Kathy on the floor.’

“She was only about eight feet away from me.’

“I’m not normally one to panic but I knew this was bad.’

“She looked at me and said ‘help me, please help me’.

“I ran over, picked her up and put her on the couch and took a look at her.’

“It was then I realised how bad it was.’

“I managed to quickly grab some clean towels and put pressure on her neck”

Paul then made a call to 999 for an ambulance, and soon on the scene were newly-qualified paramedics Joshua Edwards and Charlotte Fry, who were working out of Bargoed station, when the top priority ‘Red’ call came in.

Joshua, 30, of Aberdare, said: “I remember it well as it was such a busy weekend with Red call after Red call.’

Paramedics Joshua Edwards and Charlotte Fry

“We arrived at the address with a report of a patient having fallen and cut their neck.’

“The patient’s husband was flashing the porch light on and off to get our attention as it was pitch black and in the early hours.’

“As I approached I thought he was wearing a black top, but his blue shirt had been soaked in blood.’

“We went in to find the patient sat on the couch clutching a towel to her neck.’

“Upon inspection there was a large cut from the front to around behind the ear — it was like a surgeon’s cut.”

With little time to waste, the crew assessed Kathy, dressed the wounds with a special bandage to help clot the blood, got her safely in a wheelchair and into the ambulance whilst all the time keeping vital pressure on the wounds.

Kathy was taken straight to Newport’s Royal Gwent Hospital, where she underwent four and a half hours of emergency surgery from the trauma and major haemorrhage teams.

During the journey, Kathy began to fade due to the blood loss and Joshua continued to treat her administering vital clotting drugs and keeping her as calm as possible.

Paul said: “I remember getting to the hospital and seeing a team of around ten people waiting outside to rush her into theatre.’

“I can still see it all in slow motion now.’

“Due to restrictions I was waiting outside the hospital when I got a call off one of the nurses in the ward to come in and see her.’

“It was a real shock.’

“The surgeon came to see us and said to go straight to the shop to buy a lottery ticket because that’s how lucky she was.”

Hospital staff would later describe the actions of Charlotte and Joshua as “life-saving”.

Charlotte, a 32-year-old mother from Penarth, added: “I was driving that night and it was a difficult response in that we weren’t fully aware of the severity of injury.’

“After we dressed Kathy’s wounds, we took the decision to get her straight to the Royal Gwent and made calls to the trauma team there.’

“We are glad to see that Kathy has made a good recovery and it’s been a pleasure to meet them again in much nicer circumstances.”

The lucky couple and paramedic crew were reunited at Bargoed Ambulance Station last week.

Since the accident Kathy has gone on to take first aid and fire safety courses thanks to the encouragement of their daughter — all skills she can use and pass on to potentially help others in the future.

Getac Rugged Devices To Deliver Critical Care To Patients Across Scotland

The Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) despatches rapid medical assistance or clinical advice to over five million people across Scotland, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

As a digital-first organisation, SAS uses its digital devices — instead of traditional pen and paper — for a wide range of logistical and clinical tasks, from vehicle navigation to on-scene patient data collection.

In order to respond effectively, the Service needs highly reliable and resilient devices that can withstand the challenging environments ambulance crews encounter on a daily basis.

“All of our devices are configured for use at the point of care, meaning they are regularly operated both inside and outside our vehicles,” says Roslyn Scott, Head of ICT Development & Training at SAS.

“As such, they have to be operable in all weather conditions and temperatures – which regularly go as low as -15°C in the Highlands – as well as in dirty and potentially hazardous locations.”

SAS’s devices are shared across a large number of users, meaning they must undergo regular, rigorous anti-infection procedures.

The nature of emergency response also makes the use of peripheral equipment like a keyboard and a mouse impractical, so devices need to be self-contained, well designed, and intuitive to use.

Following a rigorous procurement process, SAS selected Getac’s T800 fully rugged tablet as part of an overall mobile data solution supplied by Terrafix Ltd, a Getac reseller.

Built rugged from the ground up to thrive in the toughest working conditions, the T800 offers the ideal combination of functionality, connectivity, and mobility, meaning ambulance crews can take it wherever they need to go.

A powerful quad-core Intel® Atom™ processor and 4G LTE, Wi-Fi & GPS connectivity options enable data to be gathered and transmitted straight from the scene, while up to 10 hours battery life on a single charge offers full-shift reliability.

Elsewhere, an 8.1-inch sunlight-readable display — 34 percent larger screen area than a typical 7-inch tablet — allows first responders to perform crucial tasks under pressure quickly.

Like all Getac devices, the T800 was engineered to protect against drops, shocks, spills, vibration, dust, liquid and more.

Certified to MIL-STD 810G and IP65 standards, it remains fully operational in temperatures ranging from -21°C to +50°C and is drop resistant up to six feet.

Furthermore, for vehicle deployments, the T800 can be configured with tri-pass-through antenna ports allowing SAS to simultaneously connect high-gain GPS, WWAN and WLAN roof-mounted antennas. Havis docking stations are also used to keep devices secure and fully charged when inside the vehicles.

Getac’s T800 is now the primary digital device in use across SAS’s entire fleet of 550 A&E vehicles.

Most vehicles are equipped with two devices.

One is installed in the driver’s cabin, where it’s predominantly used for callout allocation and mobilisation to incidents.

The other is installed in the back of the vehicle and used for recording patient information and accessing clinical support information while on-scene.

The T800’s inherently rugged design also means SAS do not need to invest in any secondary products to protect its tablets while in the field or during rigorous cleaning and disinfecting processes.

In fact, since the installation of the T800 five years ago, there have been minimal reports of device breakages or screen damage leading to unexpected downtime.

As a result of this highly positive experience to date, SAS is now in the process of extending the use of the Getac T800 to its patient transport fleet consisting of over 450 vehicles.

“Our ambulance crews regularly operate in difficult conditions, and in these situations, the last thing they want to worry about is their device,” says Roslyn.

“Getac’s T800 enables them to work efficiently in wet and freezing temperatures and during the heat of summer, making it a crucial component of our response strategy both now and in the future.” Celebrate 15 Years Of Supporting Vehicle Safety is celebrating 15 years of support for vehicle safety.

The online resource was one of the first businesses in Britain to enable fleet managers to order essential high visibility markings and chevron kits direct through a website and has since expanded to offer a range of additional safety related equipment.

Since 2006, Burgess Hill-based has developed a portfolio of over 470 products to meet the vehicle livery and chevron markings needs of highway users and commercial fleets.

Specialist advisors are in place to advise on the use of prismatic and retroreflective materials in line with Chapter 8 recommendations for different vehicle types and environments to ensure that the correct ‘R’ rating is used.

Lorraine Avery,
Managing Director,
Bluelite Group

Lorraine Avery, Managing Director of the Bluelite Group, which includes, commented: “I am very proud of the growth of over the last 15 years and more importantly the contribution the service has made to vehicle safety by making the ordering and fitting of approved high visibility materials easy and cost effective.’

“As a company, we have a proud track record of working with many different sectors — including emergency services and frontline operators — to ensure vehicles use the most appropriate high visibility markings and livery so that drivers and other road users are as safe as possible.”

Among the company’s accreditations is the nationally recognised Cyber Essentials standard, which demonstrates that the Group has the necessary processes in place to offer secure services online.

Lorraine further stated that “Cyber Essentials is increasingly recognised among emergency services and essential highway fleets as a ‘must-have’ certification to minimise the risk of data and online systems being compromised.’

“We are pleased to have this standard in place alongside our other accreditations for quality and environmental management.”


STOP THE BLEED: More Lives Could Be Saved If Public Received Trauma Response Training

Safeguard Medical is calling for the introduction of life-saving bleed kits across the UK and offering over 500 places on FREE bleed control training sessions for UK public, following the news that 87% of emergency responders say they believe more lives could be saved if the public were to receive basic trauma response training.

In a recent survey of UK Emergency Medical Services, Fire and Police commissioned by Safeguard Medical, 87%  of respondents agreed that if the public were more aware of the immediate care required following major trauma, preventable deaths would decrease[1].

The majority of first responders (85%) believe that more lives could be saved with the introduction of bleeding control kits, placed alongside every public access defibrillator.

The UK Government has released statistics that over 41,000 knife crime offences occurred in 2020/21, of which 224 were homicides[2].

Bleed kits contain lifesaving equipment including tourniquets to stop major bleeding and haemostatic bandages that can be ‘packed’ into a wound to stop haemorrhaging.

Safeguard Medical is appealing to raise greater awareness of the vital skills that help to preserve life following a trauma incident.

During the COVID pandemic, emergency responders reported increased pressures, with 95% agreeing they have responded to an increased number of trauma incidents.

Almost half of those surveyed (48%) agreed that the public could be better prepared to respond while waiting for professional ambulance assistance to arrive on scene.

Emergency responders are also dealing with the mental health impact of witnessing and experiencing trauma, with 94% agreeing that their mental health had suffered because of the increased pressures placed on the emergency medical services during the pandemic. 

Safeguard Medical believes that if the public were better prepared to deal with medical and trauma emergencies, this immediate support could help reduce mental health pressure on emergency medical responders, whilst also directly saving lives.  

One of Safeguard Medical’s partners, the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, will host a training session on World Trauma Day at Merry Hill Shopping Centre in the West Midlands, delivered by Safeguard Medical’s training division, Prometheus Medical.

At this free, open event, the public can learn vital first aid skills that could save someone’s life. These include how to perform CPR, use a defibrillator and how to manage major bleeding.

Ian Jones, air operations manager for Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, said: “With more than 63% of the charity’s missions being trauma-related, it’s important to use this day to shine a light on the enhanced critical care our crews provide, and what bystanders can do to help the patient before medical expertise even arrives.’

“In addition, the demand for advanced medicines and equipment coupled with specialist care on scene delivered by our critical care paramedics and flight doctors continues to rise annually, with a 1.3 per cent rise in trauma-related incidents compared to 2020, which was already an extraordinary year with additional Covid pressures.”

The emergency responders surveyed agreed that since the pandemic, certain trauma incidents have increased considerably. For example, as more people have been upgrading their homes, DIY accidents have increased (28%), as have falls from height and sporting incidents (25%).

Professor Richard Lyon MBE

Professor Richard Lyon MBE, Chief Medical Officer at Safeguard Medical and a practising NHS Consultant in Emergency Medicine & Pre-hospital Care,  said: “Tragic incidents like the fatal attack on MP David Amess highlights that penetrating trauma incidents can occur anywhere, at any time.’

“There is a real opportunity for better public access to life saving equipment, like bleed kit, in order to save more lives.’

“Even with an air ambulance travelling in a straight line at over 130mph to an incident, patients can bleed out in under 5 minutes in some circumstances. Minutes are critical when you are bleeding. ‘

“This is why a tourniquet or haemostatic trauma bandages in bleed kits give the public the chance to intervene and save a life. Our rapid response teams can then focus on keeping the patient stable and preparing them for medical intervention once at the hospital.”   

Professor Lyon agreed that during the UK lockdowns, the number of callouts to incidents reduced but added: “There’s been a significant increase in recreational incidents following the lifting of lockdowns.’

“Accident from sporting incidents, DIY, road traffic collisions, falls from heights,  as well as an increase in mental health-related incidents and assault-related trauma — particularly knife crime — have all increased.”

Safeguard Medical is dedicated to equipping responders at every skill level to saving life, in any environment. Which is why its training arm, Prometheus Medical, is providing over 500 free places on its medical training courses across the UK to help prepare the public and businesses to respond better to medical emergencies by understanding bleed control.

To find out more and register your interest for the free training sessions, visit

Or click here to learn how Safeguard can supply bleed kits for general public use.


[1] Research conducted by 3GEM on behalf of Safeguard Medical with 500 emergency responders in the UK