Ambulance Manufacturer Brings All Production In-House, Marking £800k Investment And Job Creation

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Ambulance builder, Venari Group, has become the first fully self-sufficient manufacturer of its kind in the UK, having brought all aspects of its production process in-house.

It follows the commissioning of a new £800,000 component manufacturing centre — and will create 10 additional production roles at its Brighouse headquarters.

Every internal aspect of the firm’s ambulances, including the ambulances’ lockers and componentry, will now be manufactured in-house from raw material.

The strategic move will allow Venari Group to wholeheartedly increase quality, efficiency and safety on their vehicle range utilised by the NHS on the front line, whilst increasing capacity and decreasing lead times on large quantities.

Following a hugely demanding 2020 for the UK’s NHS ambulance trusts, Venari Group has driven continuous improvement in a bid to support its customers to a higher standard than ever before.

O&H Vehicle Technology Technical Director, Wes Linton, commented on the commissioning of the new department: “Now that O&H sits proudly within Venari Group, we have the capability and an obligation to drive unrivalled quality throughout our entire production process. UK ambulance manufacturing has essentially stood still for decades so it is our job to stride forward to the benefit of our world-class NHS ambulance trusts.’

“When assessing our performance in 2020, we asked ourselves how we could drive improvement into 2021 which ultimately led to the creation of a highly skilled and technologically exceptional department, dedicated to the construction of what is arguably the most important aspect of any ambulance build.’

“To reach the world-class industry standard which we aspire to achieve every day, we must drive quality from the front, in-house. Now, we are in control of our own destiny and with the most passionate team in the industry, that is only a great thing for our NHS ambulance trust customers.”

The Ambulance Staff Charity Reaches £1,722 At Halfway Point of National Challenge

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A month-long charity campaign which aims to boost the nation’s health and wellbeing is now at its halfway point, with donations pouring in.

Over the past two weeks, the Blue Light Get Active Challenge has tasked individuals with clocking up as many miles or minutes of physical or mindfulness exercises as they can to raise money for The Ambulance Staff Charity, The Fire Fighters Charity, Police Care UK and The Air Ambulance Service.

So far, The Ambulance Staff Charity (TASC) has raised £1,722 to support ambulance staff along with other frontline workers who have shown resilience and determination over the past year, keeping the nation safe during the current pandemic.

Leading emergency service discount provider, Blue Light Card, and wellbeing organisation, Get Active are supporting the challenge, offering a state-of-the-art app for participants to log their activities and see where they rank against others in a leader board.

Everyone who takes part is encouraged to donate and fundraise for either a charity of their choice, or to have the funds split evenly between each of the four charities.

Commenting on the results so far, Jasmin Rana, Director of Income Generation & Supporter Engagement at TASC, said: “The Blue Light Get Active Challenge has kickstarted 2021 by providing a month long of activities that are suitable for all to help boost everyone’s physical, mental health and wellbeing as well as raising money for the emergency services.’

Jasmine Rana, Director of Income Generation & Supporter Engagement, TASC

“We are delighted to be one of their charity partners. The challenge so far has raised over £1,722 for TASC, The Ambulance Staff Charity, with 27 people taking part.’

“We know that the last year and the current lockdown are having a significant impact on so many of our lives and none more so than our Ambulance service.’

“We have all seen the news coverage and heard first-hand the strains and pressure they are under to ensure they are there for us.’

“At TASC we have started to see an increase in the demand of our services and are fully aware that this is just the tip of the iceberg.’

“We are grateful to everyone taking part in this challenge who are raising funds to support the Ambulance Staff.  

“All the funds raised will help to ensure TASC can continue being there for ambulance staff for years to come. If you would like to get involved there is still time to sign up at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/BlueLightGetActiveTASC.”

The overall running total raised by the four charities stands at £8,683.26.

Tom Dalby, CEO of Blue Light Card, said: “We are backing this campaign to support our frontline workers, who are always incredibly important to us but have been even more fearless and vital over the last year or so as Covid-19 has swept across the nation.’

“Seeing people get involved and take up the chance to get active and practice mindfulness, especially when the weather has been testing is great to see. And of course, seeing the donations come in to raise over £8,600 makes it extra special.’

“With two weeks left to go of the challenge, we are urging participants to keep going, and for those that haven’t signed up yet – there is still time to get involved and make yourself known on the leader board!”

The overall winner for the challenge will be crowned on 14 February.

For more information and to sign up to the Blue Light Get Active Challenge, visit: https://getactivechallenges.com/bluelight/.

How Rugged Technology Supports Ambulance Crews in Testing Times

COVID–19 saw a shift in how some ambulance crews and rapid response teams operated across the UK, from forming collaborative response and mobile support units, to creating purpose-built temporary hospitals such as the NHS Nightingale hospitals.

Communication and technology are undeniably essential in supporting these ambulance crews and emergency service teams, and implementing the latest technologies is crucial to driving improved efficiency and keeping one step ahead.

The Durabook Z141 Military-Grade Rugged Laptop

But with so much technology available and squeezed budgets, organisations must consider efficiency over complexity, and ensure assets are able to perform to the maximum throughout their lifecycle.

For example, Durabook’s newly launched Z14I rugged laptop not only withstands the harsh conditions that emergency teams experience, but it also delivers the power, performance, and functionality to seamlessly integrate with new technologies for any given situation.

Running on Windows® 10 and using an expansion module, or via other connections, it can quickly be transformed on-the-fly into any number of different solutions — from an ultra-portable workstation, to a server or storage device, or remote command centre; ideal for temporary hospitals such as NHS Nightingale. 

Click Image To View The U11I

As technology develops, ambulance crews could be adopting different ways to deliver treatment and respond to emergencies. For example, drones present new potential for medical emergency response and aid delivery, and they can be controlled by the Z14I to complete their missions.

A central rugged device like this also has the capacity to collect and process recorded data of incidents in real time to provide instant intelligence to teams on the ground, as well as back at the hospital where teams may be preparing for incoming patients.

Today, ambulance crews rely on technology to support their daily work lives. Increasingly, they are using rugged devices that withstand the harsh environments they often operate in, while delivering the functionality needed to improve patient care.

For example, Durabook’s U11I rugged tablet helps ambulance crews make critical decisions, helps them to quickly access electronic patient records, and can also transfer patient-specific information to the hospital before arrival.

Running on Windows® 10 and including an embedded smart card reader, it is the only rugged tablet available today with the further option of adding a second smart card and RFID reader. This allows for secure user authentication and the safe collection and transfer of sensitive data.

This feature has also proven essential for quickly accessing historical patient information, recording diagnoses, and securely sending data to the hospital before the patient’s arrival so that treatment can continue without delays.

Also important for ambulance crews is Durabook’s cleaning guide, which outlines how customers can sanitise their devices to reduce the spread of contaminants while ensuring continued performance, all in line with and satisfying industry standards.

Durabook has been manufacturing mobile rugged devices for over 30 years. Its military-grade technology offers deep functionality and high performance at affordable prices. Emergency services — especially ambulance and healthcare workers — often use technology where potentially harmful germs and bacteria are present. It’s vitally important for them to understand how devices can be safely sanitised to reduce the spread of contaminants while ensuring continued performance.

With so many ways in which rugged technology can help and assist ambulance crews — especially in enhancing infection control measures, and in increasing the fluidity and immediacy of communications between services too — we can see that such devices really are a vital piece of equipment aboard any modern and up-to-date ambulance.

Dräger Oxylog® VE300: An Evaluation in Use by Critical Care Paramedics

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) critical care paramedics have given feedback on the
Dräger Oxylog
® VE300 ventilator, following its use during a product evaluation which was undertaken by Kingston University and St George’s University of London. Interestingly, a special focus of the evaluation was the included CPR mode built into the ventilator in order to test its overall usability in daily practice.

Background

The aim of the evaluation was to assess, audit, and evaluate the use of the Dräger Oxylog® VE300 ventilator and the attitudes of its users towards the device during the period when it was being trialed by SECAMb’s critical care paramedics.

Five Oxylog VE300 ventilators were provided by Dräger for the project. As there are ten critical care paramedic (CCP) bases across SECAmb, each ventilator was allocated to two separate bases; operating from the first base for six weeks, and then from the second base for another six weeks in 2019.

The extended scope of skills and experience which CCPs possess when it comes to treating treating the most vulnerable and high-risk patients using advanced clinical procedures and equipment made them perfect candidates to offer reliable feedback about the overall functionality and usefulness of the Oxylog VE300 ventilator.

In total, they used the Oxylog VE300 in 55 different ventilation cases with all available ventilation modes: intra-arrest/ CPR mode, post ROSC/apnoeic patients, transport, handover, and NIV/CPAP. The CPR mode was used in more than every second ventilation case.

CPR in Advanced Life Support

During CPR, ILCOR guidelines on ventilation are rarely achieved due to a tendency to either over or under ventilate patients, both in terms of frequency and tidal volume. Most mechanical ventilators have difficulties with this as they struggle to cope with high airway pressures generated during CPR.

The Dräger Oxylog VE300 is a prehospital ventilator with a ‘CPR mode’, which is pre-set to deliver ILCOR recommended ventilations as well as modulate flow during compressions in order to effectively deliver tidal volumes without excessive airway pressure.

Summary

More than 80% Positive Feedback

The majority of clinicians had a positive experience, and various themes were evident by their comments. Participants suggested that they felt the overall care they provided was enhanced in comparison to using existing equipment.

Clinicians were impressed with the device and its capabilities, and most felt it allowed them to deliver additional and beneficial care to their patients. Whilst feedback was varied, the majority (81.8%) felt that their overall experience was positive.

The CCPs felt that the handover experience was improved by the use of the device, as they felt it helped them deliver a smooth and professional handover with minimal interruptions.

Usage and Alarms

The case mix which was identified
when analysing the usage data clearly shows a high percentage of usage in cardiac arrest, and of the CPR mode. This demonstrates a use for an advanced ventilator with this function, as the currently available ventilator in South East Coast Ambulance Service does not tolerate usage during CPR.

The majority of respondents found the alarms helpful, and comments were varied in terms of reasons why, but a common theme was that individuals were grateful for being alerted to a specific issue that could be addressed.

Mechanical Chest Compression Systems and Supraglottic Airways

The Oxylog VE300 appears on the whole to deliver what it is designed to do. It delivers mechanical ventilation in a range of modes including, uniquely, a CPR mode. This allows clinicians to deploy the device whilst CPR is ongoing: both with human-delivered CPR or, as provided in a small number of cases in this product evaluation, in combination with the LUCAS® Mechanical Chest Compression System.

There were also examples of this device working effectively with the i-gel® supraglottic airway, instead of formal endotracheal intubation. The Oxylog VE300 also provides a further convenient solution to the problem of needing to carry oxygen cylinders to drive the ventilator by allowing their integration into the body of the device.

Just Brew-Ti-Ful: Firefighter Entrepreneurs Serve Up 20,000 Cups of Coffee to COVID-19 Key Workers

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Two firefighter entrepreneurs handed out over 20,000 cups of coffee to frontline key workers, including Ambulance staff, during September as they geared up for a second spike in the pandemic.

Matt Broxton, 28, and Tom Taylor, 28, decided to set up an online coffee company because the instant coffee at the fire stations they both worked at was ‘terrible’ and ‘tasted like tarmac’.

They felt all key workers involved in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic ‘deserved a decent cup of coffee’. The young founders set up Frontline Coffee with its profits donated to emergency service and health charities.

The pair has sold 4741.25kg of coffee so far which at 7g a cup is the equivalent of 677,321 cups of coffee with 20,000 of those going direct to the frontline for free during the UK lockdown in the spring.

Matt Broxton (Left) and Tom Taylor (Right)

Frontline Coffee aims to support frontline charities ‘one coffee bean at a time’ and has so far raised over £17,000 with donations made to NHS Charities Together, the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution), TASC (The Ambulance Staff Charity) and The Firefighters Charity.

Matt said: “Our emergency and health services are the best in the world, but they are only the best because of the people that make them up. We strive to be a company that supports these amazing people.

Matt Broxton

“Me and Tom both have a passion for real coffee so we always used to joke about how terrible the instant coffee was at the fire station and how it used to taste like tarmac.

“In the fire service after you’ve been out on a ‘shout’ to a house fire or had to deal with a difficult situation, it’s a typically British thing to do to have a coffee or cup of tea.

“When lockdown happened and key workers were having to deal with the enormity of Covid-19, we felt these people would be in even more need of a good cup of coffee when they finally sat down for a break.

“That is why we made it our mission to get good coffee to key workers working exceptionally hard during these troubling times in hospitals, police, fire and ambulance stations during the UK lockdown.

“Our soul mission is also to raise awareness about the great work our frontline services do and raise money for their respective charities. We’re absolutely delighted to have raised more than £17,000 so far.”

Frontline Coffee has taken off so rapidly that Matt has left his job as a firefighter with the London Fire Brigade to focus on their social enterprise full-time. Tom, meanwhile, still works for the Devon and Somerset fire service.

Matt and Tom’s collection includes a blend for each emergency service such as ‘First Response’ supporting TASC, the ‘Bevan Blend’ for NHS Charities Together (named after its creator, Aneurin Bevan), ‘The Thin Red Line’ for Firefighter Charity, and more. Frontline Coffee also sell grinders, brewing kits, specialist tea and merchandise.

The pair got started with one second hand industrial roaster and it is now manufactured on a grand scale in the south west of England. Matt and Tom hand-picked the coffee beans to match the exact taste the pair were looking for. They hand-pack orders themselves before arranging deliveries to customers.

Tom said: “We never expected Frontline Coffee to take off like this but it grew legs so we had to make a decision that one of us would have to take it on full-time.’

Tom Taylor

“We decided that Matt would be better pushing it further on a day-to-day basis as he had created the website and runs all of our social media.’

“We didn’t want to look back in 10 years’ time and say ‘what if?’. We had spoken quite a few times about setting up something for charity and giving something back.’

“The sudden arrival of Covid-19 brought Frontline Coffee forward quicker than either of us ever imagined. It has just been an amazing journey so far.”

Working in the Frontline services clearly runs in both families. Matt’s mum, Jannette was a nurse, and his Dad, Gary and uncle, Ron, were both in the Royal Navy, while girlfriend Rosie, who is Tom’s cousin, is also a nurse. Tom’s wife, Kirsty, meanwhile, is a police detective.

Matt added: “Both mine and Tom’s families both have a history of working for frontline services so I guess we all have it in our blood to help people. Now more than ever, we aim to support our key workers through this next set of challenging times.”

Commendation for Life-Saving Police Officers

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has recognised the quick-thinking actions of three South Wales Police officers after they came to the aid of a man who suffered a heart attack at work.

PCs Darren Westall from the Roads Policing Unit at Gwaelod Y Garth, Heledd Roberts and Catherine Frost, both based in Barry, were awarded a Chief Executive’s Commendation by Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, accompanied by South Wales Police Chief Inspector Tony Williams.

The trio of PCs were on duty on 03 April this year when a 51-year-old local bus driver pulled his vehicle over on Barry’s Porthkerry Street complaining of chest pains.

The driver was suffering what would later be described as a “massive heart attack” and a concerned member of the public flagged down nearby Roads Policing Officer PC Westall, who became the first trained person present.

He said: “An ambulance had been called, but I knew there was a defibrillator at the station and with it being close by called in for immediate assistance.”

His colleagues, PCs Roberts and Frost were on response duty and arrived on scene in minutes with the Automated Electronic Defibrillator from outside Barry police station.

Left to Right: PC Frost, Andrew Howell the High Sheriff of South Glamorgan, PC Westall, Jason Killens and PC Roberts

PC Roberts said: “The driver had been moved from his cab to a more spacious seat but collapsed to the ground as his condition worsened.

“We took the decision to deploy the defibrillator as he had lost consciousness and stopped breathing.

“We used the defibrillator and he began breathing again immediately.”

The ambulance arrived soon after and took the patient to the University Hospital Wales, Cardiff where he underwent emergency surgery.

The ambulance service confirmed at the time that the use of the defibrillator had no doubt saved the man’s life.

Making the commendation at Barry ambulance station, Jason Killens said: “Having medically trained colleagues across the emergency services can make all the difference when every second counts.

“The quick thinking and selfless nature of these police officers kick-started the chain of survival for the patient and helped ensure a positive outcome.

“I am proud to present this commendation to these amazing public servants and thank them for everything they have done and continue to do in keeping our communities safe.”

Praising his officers, Chief Inspector Tony Williams, said: “The officers’ quick thinking and the defibrillator have ultimately saved this gentleman’s life.

“Despite the current climate, our officers remain on the frontline, responding to spontaneous incidents, serving communities and doing their very best to keep everyone safe.

“It is pleasing to know we have officers like PC Westall, Roberts and Frost among our ranks.

“Without their calm and quick-thinking actions, professionalism and bravery, the outcome for the bus driver and his loved ones could have been very different.

“I am very proud of their actions and we wish the gentleman a full and speedy recovery.”

Speaking of the commendation, PC Frost said: “We are all honoured and privileged to accept this award.

“Ultimately, we were just doing our jobs and to be commended by our partners in the ambulance service is a pleasant and unexpected surprise.”

The event was also attended by the High Sheriff of South Glamorgan, Andrew Howell.

The Fleet Manager’s Immediate Solution to the Costs of Dirty Diesel

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By Carl Rees,
Director, Kognitive LTd.

Having worked in the NHS for the past 25 years I was not surprised to learn that the health service is responsible for around 4% of the nation’s carbon emissions.

To combat this, at the beginning of October the NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens laid out his vision for the NHS to be the world’s first ‘net zero’ national health service, setting a target of becoming carbon net zero by 2040 and cutting harmful emissions by 80 per cent over the next 12 years (Delivering a Net Zero National Health Service, October 2020).

The fact this has remained a top priority during the worst pandemic we have experienced in modern times speaks volumes and underlines how seriously the NHS is taking the issue of climate change and its own contribution to the problem.  

It is accepted that change will not happen overnight and it will take time to implement fully sustainable, green policies locally that will contribute to Sir Simon’s plan. But what can hospitals, primary care organisations, ambulance services and other parts of the health service do immediately to make an instant impact on reducing their emissions?

The same question can be asked of police and fire and rescue services, which also have a duty to cut their own significant carbon emissions in the coming months and years.

One answer lies in replacing their use of fossil diesel fuel by switching their fleet vehicles and generators to GREEND+, a new, enhanced form of HVO (hydrotreated vegetable oil) paraffinic fuel that is a sustainable, ultra-low emission fossil-free diesel alternative.

Using GREEND+ fuel reduces particulate emissions by up to 85% and Nitrogen Oxides by up to 30% compared to regular diesel, according to independent tests at the Millbrook specialist vehicle testing facility. NHS organisations and emergency services can significantly lower their emissions overnight, greatly reducing their environmental impact while achieving huge improvements to local air quality and the reduction of carbon dioxide, reducing Greenhouse Gas emissions by up to 96%.

Importantly, GREEND+ can be used immediately and without any changes to equipment or fuel tanks, meaning organisations can take climate change action quickly with no costly upgrades to machinery or equipment. This also includes no changes required to the engines of any fleet vehicles; this is a drop-in solution and it is ready to go now, and best of all, it is cost neutral with no capital expenditure required.

To me, it is an absolute no-brainer, which is why private sector organisations are already clamouring to get their hands on this sustainable new fuel. The public sector should not miss the same opportunity, and the NHS and emergency services are key players who can make a significant immediate impact on the environment by switching to this new fuel.

In terms of the product itself, it looks like water and has virtually no smell, unlike dirty diesel. It is made from sustainable organic waste products – not virgin crops – to EN15940 standard. It is stored and dispensed in the same way as normal fuel, but it requires less cleaning around the storage site than normal diesel.

Another key factor is that it does not degenerate in the tank or in storage, and therefore needs no ‘cleaning’ or ‘polishing’ as normal diesel does. It is safe at temperatures down to minus 42.

Fleet managers will love it because using the fuel leads to better performance and longevity of engines, due to no contaminants being in the fuel, less wear in the engine and improved performance of engine lubricants. There are also proven reduced active DPF regenerations and reduced consumption of AdBlue, while data shows that using GREEND+ can improve MPG rates on urban routes too.

In summary this is the here and now solution for the NHS and emergency services journey to net zero emissions. By playing their part, emergency services and NHS organisations can enable immediate improvements in local air quality and reductions in PM2.5, known to be a key factor in respiratory disease.

When you consider 11.3 vehicles on the road using GREEND+ have the same carbon dioxide emissions as one diesel vehicle, this proves that the NHS and emergency services sector can do something simple to help reduce their carbon footprint by acting now, and taking advantage of what is a great bridge between the diesel vehicles we have today and the electric vehicles of the future.

For more information about GREEND+ or to arrange a meeting, please contact carl.rees@kognitive.co.uk

£4.8m Investment for Lincolnshire Specialist Vehicle Conversion Business

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As part of exciting expansion plans, specialist vehicle conversion business, Cartwright Conversions Ltd has been bought by the owners of Sheffield-based company Trek Group.

Cartwright Conversions Ltd was a subsidiary of the Cartwright Group that recently went into administration. The new company will now be known as Cartwright Vehicle Conversions Ltd and is based in Belton, North Lincolnshire.

The purchase by Trek Group has also saved 66 jobs at the company which is a specialist convertor for blue light emergency vehicles, Ambulances, Police, Security, and Fire.

Trek Group Managing Director, Tom Janion said: “I have been looking for some time to make a significant acquisition in the Commercial Vehicle and Emergency Services market, and to have secured the market leader really gives us the platform to realise our ambition.’

“I feel very privileged to be able to support such a fantastic company that Steve Shaw and his team have grown. This now makes Trek Group a major player in the Commercial Vehicle and Emergency Services market.’

“With the investment we are making in Cartwright Vehicle Conversions we will be able to develop new innovations that make a real difference to our customers.”

Image Credit: Manchester Commercial Photographer Tim Wallace. All vehicles from Cartwright Vehicle Conversions.

The business is also a key player in the Mobility and Wheelchair Accessible Vehicle market and has established a commercial division converting Welfare units, Support Vehicles and Mobile banking units.

Lead by Steve Shaw, who has established a highly skilled and dedicated team of industry professionals, Cartwright Vehicle Conversions Ltd is also a key player in the Ambulance hire market and a supplier to the NHS.

Steve also commented on the good news, saying: “I would like to thank the customer base for their incredible support through the last few weeks. The support has been overwhelming and it is a testament to the strength of relationship and the quality products we produce.’

“It is fantastic to be able to give security to all our employees and thank them for their dedication and loyalty over these difficult few weeks.’

“I look forward to working with Tom, his enthusiasm and investment will allow me to take this business to the next level.”

The full management team will remain in place to ensure that customers have continuity of experiencing quality products and great customer service.

Why I Decided to Respond to the Covid Call-Up

By Gerry Egan QAM, FCPara
Published in Ambulance Today, Issue 2, Volume 17, SARS-CoV-2 Pandemic — Global EMS Response,
Summer Edition 2020

I retired from full time work as Chief Executive of the College of Paramedics on December 31, 2019 with full intentions of rekindling my musicianship and building my bike workshop.

Like most of the world, I watched with horror and incredible sadness the spread of Coronavirus across the globe and its inevitable arrival in the UK.

Spending most of my ambulance life in the Scottish Ambulance Service and knowing the work, training and planning that the service had been doing for many years it was no surprise when the request was made both by the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Scotland for retired staff to return to work if possible.

A number of thoughts went through my head; not least, at 64 years of age, ‘was the risk too high in terms of being able to do the job?’

I still work part-time as a paramedic in motorsports and had no concerns about my clinical capability but did have concerns about spending lengthy periods in PPE. Not only that, but did I have the level of physical fitness to cope with 12 hour shifts and the physicality of frontline work?

I considered my mental health too. In the end however, I came to the conclusion that my personal resilience, and the very close networks of family, friends and colleagues I have, made me as well prepared as any other paramedic at this time.

In my heart I knew I could assist and wanted to help in any way I could. One of my go to questions internally from Doc Hinds sprung to mind: “Are my intentions honourable?” Yes, they were.

I completed the online forms and submitted my application through the Scottish Government systems. A few days later I had a couple of responses and started the process of being recruited to Bank Staff with both NHS Lothian and the Scottish Ambulance Service.

A number of calls have had a significant mental health element to them … On several occasions I have stayed on a call … to listen and chat, and hopefully help the patient.

I had discussions with my wife and family and we decided that frontline ambulance was not going to be the best thing for me to do. My previous post was as clinical director and my paramedic consultant post was in clinical decision-making around telephone triage, and this was the area I offered to return in.

I attended a three-day course with the Scottish Ambulance Service and, along with a number of others who returned to the service, worked through the core skills and changes that had taken place over the last few years. This included a driving assessment on a modern ambulance to ensure that we were safe and competent. 

Looking around the room at our “socially distanced” group it was clear that there was close to 600 years of experience between us. Yet despite this, we all shared very honestly the trepidation we felt, the limitations we thought we may have and our overwhelming desire to help patients in whatever way we could.

Gerry Egan QAM, FCPara, hard at work on his bike

Mental preparation for me was going to be important. Like most paramedics, I have seen my share of good and bad things over the years and expected this would be amongst the worst and most challenging.

My own decision was to limit myself to one news programme a day, watch the government briefings and follow on social media the people I found to be factual and credible and non-sensationalist. I followed the scientific evidence as it appeared, and developed my own opinion on what was going to be right for me and my family.

Coronavirus was, and still is affecting our family in the same way as every other person in the country. We weren’t able to see or hug our grandkids for several months which was incredibly tough and our youngest son, who is an adult and has learning disabilities was in lockdown with his carers for fourteen weeks, so we had to rely on the wonderful care team to keep us updated. Thankfully, since then, we’ve been able to have him home for a weekend which was pretty emotional.

I started my first shift with NHS Lothian in the Covid hub at the beginning of May 2020 and, after a short induction and familiarisation with the software and processes, I was up and running. The team is mostly made up of General Practitioners, and I am the only paramedic on the team.

The GPs have been incredibly supportive and are always on hand to answer a question or suggest a direction for a patient. Learning the referrals pathway has been a steep learning curve, but again I’ve been assisted by a team happy to advise and support.

From a paramedic perspective, the work (I do 3 or 4 shifts per week in the Covid Triage Centre) is interesting and very different to working on an ambulance. I see a patient’s clinical record, emergency care summary, previous NHS contact and current medicines all before I speak to the patient or carer.

This adds greatly to the decision-making process and assists in getting a good patient outcome. A number of calls have had a significant mental health element to them, often due to lockdown changing people’s interaction with the world around them. On several occasions I have stayed on a call (when no other patients are waiting) to listen and chat, and hopefully help the patient.

To date, I have not been asked to undertake any ambulance shifts as current demand and levels are being incredibly well managed by NHS boards. But if the situation changes in the future, then I’m more than ready and willing to do my bit.

Dräger Expands Capacity For Respiratory Masks As It Sets Up Production Facility In UK

Dräger has received an order from the British government to deliver respiratory protection masks (FFP3) in order to help protect emergency health professionals on the frontline as they continue to respond to the Coronavirus Pandemic.

With provision starting this year and lasting right up until the end of 2021, the expected net profit of sales is expected to reach roughly EUR 100 million.

In a bid to stimulate more economic activity within the UK, Dräger has decided to keep production in the Blyth area of Northumberland, where it has had a development and production site for respiratory protection technology for firefighters and industry for over 50 years.

In addition to the existing production network in Sweden and South Africa, and the recently decided new production sites in France and the US, this means that there will be a considerable percentage of high quality respiratory protection masks available on the market for emergency health care professionals, manufactured by a company with a long history of expertise within that specific industry.

The investment into the expansion of production capacities across all five production sites will require a mid-double-digit million euro amount in the 2020 financial year.

Rainer Klug,
Chief Officer of Safety Division,
Dräger

Rainer Klug, Chief Officer of Safety Division at Dräger said: “We are very pleased about the major order from the British government.’

“It gives us the opportunity to expand our international production network for FFP masks. With this additional production unit, Dräger will increase volumes quickly and flexibly.’

“Our international production network enables us to react very quickly and specifically to national or local requirements on the one hand, and to cover international requirements in a closely networked and flexible manner on the other.’

“Dräger thus operates a highly responsive manufacturing system for certified FFP respiratory protection masks, with a product design originating from our own development in Germany”.