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Bubble Screen Creates Additional Protection for Ambulance Volunteers & Patients

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North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has introduced plastic screening for its team of volunteer drivers to help keep them and their patients safe amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than 150 people volunteer with NEAS as ambulance car service (ACS) drivers, using their own vehicles to help transport patients to and from hospitals and clinics, which keeps ambulances free for emergencies and for patients too ill to travel by car.

Of those, some are currently shielding until the end of June as part of Government guidance during the Coronavirus epidemic, but a core team of 69 are still volunteering their time to support patients who are still travelling in and out of hospital for life-saving treatment, such as chemotherapy and dialysis.

During the current climate, all drivers are provided with masks, gloves and alcohol gel to keep themselves and their patients safe. However, the Trust has now gone one step further by working with international firm Driver Bubble to introduce plastic screens into volunteers’ cars following a successful trial in May.

Made of durable, flexible PVC plastic, the bubble screen is secured behind the front seats of the vehicle to create a protective shield between the driver and passenger.

The bubble screen was trialled by 54-year-old ACS driver Bob Pattinson, of Blyth, who began volunteering with NEAS in November 2017 after a career in the military. 

He said: “As well as keeping ourselves safe, we’re trying to do our best to keep patients safe and I think this is a real asset to help us do that. 

“I’ve had some really positive feedback from my patients. One lady told me she had felt quite apprehensive about getting in a car with everything that’s going on but that this really helped put her at ease and made her feel much safer.”

James Fenwick, of Ashington, relies on the ambulance car service three times a week for dialysis treatment at the RVI. He said: “I hadn’t even noticed the screen at first, but it definitely makes you feel safe, it’s a canny idea.”

Deputy Chief Executive Paul Liversidge, who oversees the volunteer development team leading on this project, said: “The safety of all staff and volunteers working for and supporting our service is paramount and we’re doing all we can to protect them and the patients we serve during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Introducing these screens is the next step in helping us do this.

“We are very grateful to Bob for trialling the screen for us and, with his help, we have been able to tweak the design to suit our needs. We’re now also investigating whether the screens could be modified further to make them suitable for some of our other vehicles.”

Number of Pre-Hospital Blood Transfusions Increases During COVID-19 Pandemic

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Marking World Blood Donor Day last month on Sunday 14th June, London’s Air Ambulance Charity joined leading medical organisations to raise awareness of the importance of blood donation, showing how donating blood can save a life in London.

London’s Air Ambulance was the first air ambulance service in the UK to carry blood on board its aircraft and administer pre-hospital blood transfusion to critically injured people suffering from catastrophic bleeding on scene.

Since this began in 2012 there has been a reduction in prehospital deaths in London from 34% to 19%. Around three quarters of all UK air ambulances now carry some form of blood product on board.

Approximately 100 people a year in London suffer traumatic injuries that result in such serious bleeding that they may die before reaching hospital. 

Today, new data released by the Charity shows that during the Covid-19 pandemic the number of pre-hospital blood transfusions has increased during the period March 12th to May 31st 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 (30 transfusions and 24 transfusions respectively).

The specialist Barts Health NHS Trust Consultants who pioneered the blood on board initiative within London’s Air Ambulance have told of how the injured patients in the COVID-19 period were also more seriously injured and needed a higher number of pre-hospital blood products.

Dr Anne Weaver, Consultant in Pre-Hospital Care at London’s Air Ambulance and Clinical Director of Trauma at The Royal London Hospital, Barts Health NHS Trust said: “This highlights the need to continue donating blood despite the challenges associated with covid-19, as traumatic injuries with serious bleeding sadly continue to occur.’

Dr Anne Weaver,
Consultant in Pre-Hospital Care,
London’s Air Ambulance Charity

“With the advanced interventions and pre hospital transfusions provided by the Air Ambulance teams, we are able to give these patients a far greater chance of survival, but this depends on the blood donors.’ 

“Thank you to all those who have donated, and continue to donate, both in the past and throughout this time; blood donation really does save lives, and our teams and our patients are hugely grateful to you.”

In 2018, a new combined red blood cell and plasma product was launched, which is given to patients at risk of bleeding to death before arriving at hospital.

Blood on board a London emergency Air Ambulance

The “red cells & plasma” specifically helps severely injured patients as it contains essential clotting ingredients to help form stronger blood clots and replace lost blood volume. This improves the chances of these patients reaching hospital alive.

Last year, 149 seriously injured patients received pre-hospital blood transfusions of the combined red cell and plasma product.

The advanced trauma team at London’s Air Ambulance are able to transfuse the blood directly into a large central vein, near the heart, so it can be transfused quickly, and it is given through a blood warmer to improve blood clotting and help stop the bleeding. 

During the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were concerns that there would not be sufficient blood donors to be able to continue this world-class life-saving service.

Contingency plans were made for the eventuality that there was insufficient O-negative blood and/or plasma for these patients. 

Vital blood bag in delivery from London’s Air Ambulance Charity for a patient in need

NHS Blood and Transplant has put in place additional safety measures for staff and donors, and blood donations centres are open and running as normally as possible.

World Blood Donor Day has been celebrated on the same day every year since it was established in 2004 by the World Health Organisation, encouraging people worldwide to give blood.

Armed Forces Week: Welsh Ambulance Give Thanks for Service

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The Welsh Ambulance Service is celebrating its service men and women past and present for Armed Forces Week (22-27 June).

Dozens of veterans work across the organisation having served in the Armed Forces, and are supported by a growing number of reservists.

Jason Killens,
CEO,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

The Trust has also enlisted the support of the military through the Covid-19 pandemic, including members of 1st Battalion The Rifles and 3rd Battalion The Royal Welsh.

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very fortunate to have secured their support through the pandemic.

“There are a lot of similarities between the Armed Forces and emergency services, not to mention the transferrable skills, so it’s no surprise that members of that community will gravitate towards a career in the ambulance service

“We’re privileged and grateful for the veterans who work across the service, and for our growing cohort of reservists too.”

Estelle Hitchon, the Trust’s Director of Partnerships and Engagement and the Lead for Veterans, added: “Armed Forces Week is a wonderful way to recognise the contribution of our veterans, and the unique set of skills and experience they bring to the role.

“Our work with the military through the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened our existing relationships with the Armed Forces community and opened up new opportunities for collaboration in future. Thank you for your service.”

Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE has been military commander for Wales during the Covid-19 response.

He said: “The Armed Forces in Wales are very proud to be supporting the Welsh Ambulance Service in the collective fight against Covid-19.’

Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE

“It has proved a very rewarding experience for the 60 soldiers involved in crewing their ambulances and a further 60 who decontaminate and clean them.’

“The soldiers have learnt a huge amount from supporting the paramedics on nearly 5,000 callouts, which has included assisting in the delivery of several babies.’

“We have built an excellent working relationship with NHS Wales and have been truly humbled by their selfless commitment and dedication during such a difficult time.’

“To have played a small part in this has been a real privilege.’

“As Armed Forces Day approaches, we are rightly reminded of the sacrifices made by all those who choose to serve their nation.”

Claire Vaughan, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Last year, the Trust signed Step into Health’s Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support members of the Armed Forces community to gain employment in the NHS.

It also recruited Veterans Champions from across the Trust to support new starters to make the transition into civilian life and provide one-to-one support and mentorship.

Claire Vaughan, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, said: “Our work with the Armed Forces community has shown us time and again the direct correlation between the values held by those in the military and our own Trust behaviours.’

“We felt that recruiting Veterans Champions was a great opportunity to help those from the Armed Forces integrate themselves into a new work environment, and give them additional support as they adjust into a new way of life.”

Kevin Davies is the Trust’s Vice Chair and a Non-Executive Director, and has a near 40-year career in army nursing having joined the Territorial Army in 1983.

In May, he was appointed Colonel Commandant Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).

Kevin said: “I want to take the opportunity to recognise the contribution of all of our service personnel, whether veteran or reservist, and also pay tribute to soldiers from 1 RIFLES and 3 R WELSH who have integrated into the ambulance family so well during the pandemic.

“Your response to the challenge, your resilience throughout and your commitment to the people of Wales has been exemplary. Thank you for all that you do.”

Members of the public see tributes that were paid to the to the Armed Forces community during Armed Forces Week by using the hashtag #SaluteOurForces to see photos and videos which have been submitted.

Air Ambulance Heroes Need Your Help

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Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) has announced that it has raised more than £1m so far through its Coronavirus Emergency Appeal.

However, despite the generousity of all those who could donate, this is just over a third of the total shortfall which the charity was predicting.

Air Ambulances are reserved for only the most urgent and distressing emergencies which occur in our communities.

Recent cancellations of major events and a sudden decrease in fundraising income has caused a notable decrease in the vital funds which they need in order to operate and to serve us.

The life-saving charity launched its Coronavirus Emergency Appeal in April to cover the additional costs of operating its world-class pre-hospital emergency response service safely during the pandemic.

As a charity, this vital service relies heavily charitable donations from people like you, with some money also coming from grants.

KSS Crew with an emergency Air Ambulance

It costs KSS £14 million a year to deliver its emergency service, in which specialist doctors and paramedics provide critical treatment to patients at the scene of serious incidents where only the very highest skills sets available will do.

89% of these funds are typically raised through the incredible generosity of the people of Kent, Surrey and Sussex and the amazing people who volunteer and fundraise for them.

However, during this unprecedented year, the charity has been forced to launch an Emergency Appeal for the first time in its 30 year history.

KSS emergency Air Ambulance in flight

The charity has managed to raise £1m to date, thanks to the generous support from the public which has formed 86% of the money raised, and a Government grant which was shared across the 21 Air Ambulance charities within the UK.

Because all major fundraising events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future, and many traditional methods of raising money are now severely challenged, KSS is still facing a significant income shortfall and must raise a further £1.9m to ensure it can continue to save lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

David Welch, CEO of KSS commented: “We simply cannot thank people enough for the support we have received so far.’

View from a KSS emergency Air Ambulance helicopter

“When we launched our appeal, we aimed to raise £535,000 initially to meet the immediate additional costs of continuing our life-saving service during the pandemic and we have received an amazing response.’

“It is truly humbling how generous people can be. We’ve received help from a wide range of sources and in a variety of forms — from financial donations from our supporters and the communities we serve, through to PPE from local businesses, the loan of four vehicles from Jaguar Land Rover and a large supply of oil and AdBlue for our response vehicles from Moove.’

“Every single donation, every single gift has helped, and we are so thankful to everyone who has responded so far.’

“Yet, despite this and the contribution from Government, with the continued impact of the pandemic we still face a significant shortfall of £1.9m.’

“Last year, we were called out to help over 2,500 people in life-threatening situations across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.’

“We have an outstanding, highly skilled medical team and we are determined to continue to deliver the best possible outcomes for our patients and to continue to run our charity efficiently and responsibly.’

KSS Crew proudly show their gratitude for the £1m raised

“To secure our future, we urgently need your continued support – there are so many ways you can join those in the community who have already supported and got involved.’

“Let’s work together to continue to save lives during this difficult and unprecedented time.”

KSS has been rated “Outstanding” by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) in all five of its inspection criteria: ‘safe’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’, ‘responsive’ and ‘well-led’.

It is the only Air Ambulance Service to have achieved this, as well as being the busiest in the UK. KSS is also the only UK Air Ambulance Service which is able to fly to emergencies 24/7.  

To support the KSS Coronavirus Emergency Appeal, please visit www.aakss.org.uk/appeal

Coronavirus: Ambulance Staff Report 290 Violence & Aggression Incidents

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Hundreds of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff have experienced violence and aggression while working during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ambulance crews and control room staff reported 290 incidents during the first 10 weeks of lockdown from 23 March to 31 May. This figure compared with 199 during the same time period in 2019.

The majority (84%) of the cases during lockdown were verbal abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public.

There were also 46 physical assaults against SWASFT staff, up from 34 last year.

The areas with the highest number of assaults on staff were: South and West Devon (12); Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire (9) and Wiltshire (8).

Emergency services and other partner agencies across the region are working together to highlight the #Unacceptable abuse and assaults faced by key workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Walker,
Emergency Care Assistant,
SWASFT

They warn that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Jenny Winslade, SWASFT Executive Director of Quality and Clinical Care, said: “Our ambulance crews and control room staff are working tirelessly on the frontline during this global health crisis.

“Sadly they are facing violence and aggression every day while trying to protect and save our patients’ lives, which is completely unacceptable.

“We support whatever action is necessary to protect our staff from harm, and ensure those responsible for any attacks are prosecuted.”

Several SWASFT staff have shared their stories of being assaulted while on duty in a bid to raise awareness of the problem, and to remind people of the consequences.

James Ryan,
Paramedic, SWASFT

Emergency Care Assistant Mark Walker and a police officer were spat at by a patient he was trying to treat in Dawlish, South Devon on Monday 25 May.

The offender was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for assaulting two emergency workers and being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

Mark said: “The incident was pretty unpleasant. But for the person to be arrested, charged and sent to prison barely within 24 hours was a good outcome.”

Weymouth-based Paramedic James Ryan was attacked by a patient in the back of an ambulance while transporting them to hospital.

James said: “It was a horrible experience. The man knocked my glasses off, pinned me down and punched me. This type of violent behaviour is unacceptable.”

Keziah Pietersen has experienced physical and verbal abuse while working as a paramedic, including being kicked down a flight of stairs.

She said: “I was bruised and shaken. For a long time after whenever I was called out to a similar type of job I was wary.”

SWASFT is encouraging people to support the #Unacceptable campaign by sharing supportive #Unacceptable messages on social media.

Jenny added: “Our staff demonstrate dedication and courage every day, putting their own health at risk for the sake of patients. We are so proud and thankful for them all.

“Any incident of violence and aggression can have serious consequences on them, their families and colleagues. Please respect our people as they continue working during this difficult time.”

SWASFT is also reminding people to follow the national healthcare guidelines to wash their hands regularly, keep two metres apart in public, and get tested if they develop coronavirus symptoms.

Covid-19: Have Your Say on Welsh Ambulance Service’s Response

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The Welsh Ambulance Service is asking the public to have a say on its response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Trust is inviting people to share their experience of accessing the service, whether through 999, 111 or its Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service.

It is also keen to gather the public’s views on ease of access to information, as well as how they found the process of offering to help with equipment and volunteering.

Rachel Marsh, the Trust’s Director of Strategy, Performance and Planning, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been the greatest challenge in health and social care for a generation.

“We’ve made every effort to provide the best possible service while in the throes of this global health emergency, which has included enlisting the support of the military and the redeployment of more than 200 colleagues into key areas of the service, like 111.

“Patients are at the heart of our service, so we’re keen to hear about how this has felt on the ground by the people we serve, people in Wales.

“We’re not out of the woods yet but as a forward-thinking ambulance service, we’re starting to turn our attention to lessons learned and what more we could have done and can still do.

“You don’t have to have accessed our service to take the survey, and any and all feedback is welcome.”

Click here to take the survey, the closing date for which is Friday 12 June 2020.