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Colleague Turns Life-Saver After Choking Incident

A Welsh Ambulance Service paramedic has been left feeling “eternally grateful” to the colleague who saved his life when he choked on his dinner.

And what’s more, Gareth Jones, of Tenby, wasn’t even supposed to be working with his saviour, paramedic Hayley Bennett that day.

Gareth, 42, and based at Tenby station was part way through his 3pm-3am shift in one of the service’s rapid response cars and had returned to base for his rest break.

Hearing that a colleague in Pembroke Dock had called in sick, leaving Hayley to work her overnight 6pm-6am shift alone, Gareth phoned their duty manager and offered to team up with Hayley for the rest of his shift.

Hayley Bennett and Gareth Jones in Tenby station where the incident occurred on Saturday 24 April 2021

It was agreed Hayley would head over to Tenby after her next call to join Gareth to form an emergency ambulance crew.

“It was around 8pm when I walked in and Gareth was sat eating his dinner,” said Hayley, 39. “We began talking and he just started choking.’

“I knew he was in trouble straight away. His face was bright red and his eyes were bulging.’

“He’d jumped out of his seat and was hammering on his chest.” Gareth’s airways were completely blocked and quick-thinking Hayley took action immediately.

“I was on him in seconds,” she said. “Back slaps to start with, and really shouting at him to cough as he was trying to breathe in.’

“I moved on to the Heimlich manoeuvre but it dislodged nothing. I returned to back slaps quickly and eventually he vomited which cleared his airways.”

Gareth, who has served 21 years with the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “It frightened the hell out of me. I felt like I was going.’

“I’d read about the impending sense of doom in text books, and that’s exactly what I had. I thought I was leaving my wife and kids. I’m eternally grateful to Hayley.’

“Without her, my wife would be a widow and my kids would have no father.”

After the incident, the pair stood there in disbelief and both have since admitted that what was over in a couple of minutes felt like a lifetime whilst it was happening.

Hayley said: “I think it felt like such a long time as we were there alone.’

“It was one of the most bizarre things that’s ever happened to me — I’ve never had to work on a colleague before. It was shocking really, I wasn’t supposed to be there.”

Gareth said: “Someone was looking after me that night. They would have found me dead on the station floor if Hayley hadn’t arrived as there was no other medically trained people there that night.”

Whilst Gareth was recuperating, the radio went off and a top priority Red call had come in. So whilst still reeling from the shock and with Gareth physically recovering, the pair rushed to their ambulance and set off to a seriously ill patient.

“I was still coming down really,” said Gareth. I had what was called inspiratory stridor or a high pitch voice as the airway was still partially obstructed. It took a little while for that to go.’

“Hayley got me a drink and I was starting to feel a little better when I heard our pin number on the radio. Hayley joked it was for me, but we were on our way to a Red call.”

Gareth went on to make a good recovery and has recently completed a Masters in Advanced Paramedic Practice. Hayley continues to work relief shifts around Pembrokeshire, juggling ambulance shifts with paramedic husband Mike and caring for her young son and older step daughter.

Armed Forces Week: “Thank You for Your Service”, Says Welsh Ambulance Service

The Welsh Ambulance Service is celebrating its service men and women past and present for Armed Forces Week (21-27 June).

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

More than 200 British Army soldiers also assisted the Trust’s COVID-19 effort by driving and decontaminating vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

Among them were members of 9 Regiment RLC, 1 RIFLES and 3 R WELSH.

Mark Cadman, Operations Manager for Cardiff and Vale University Health Board Area, WAST; former-Royal Naval midshipman, and active Army Reservist

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “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 extremely proud of the veterans who work in the service, and of our growing number of reservists too.’

“We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very grateful to have secured their support in the collective effort against Covid-19.’

“We hope that their glimpse into the world of the ambulance service was as rewarding an experience for them as it was for us.”

Andy Haywood, Royal Navy Officer turned Director of Digital Services, and the Trust’s Armed Forces Champion, 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.”

Mark Cadman is the Trust’s Ambulance Operations Manager for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area.

He joined the Royal Navy in 1991 as a midshipman, and later completed his nursing degree at the University of Wales College of Medicine before pursuing a career as an emergency specialist nurse.

He is an active Army Reservist, and has served in Afghanistan on four occasions, as well as in Iraq.

In 2019, he was appointed Commanding Officer 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment.

The father-of-three said: “My Armed Forces and NHS career have run parallel for pretty much all of my adult life, and there are so many transferrable skills.’

“The soldiers that supported us in the COVID-19 pandemic were brilliant and had a real ‘can do’ attitude, even if they were out of their comfort zone.’

“They jumped straight into the role and got along brilliantly with our crews; we were sad to see them leave.”

In 2019, 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.

Last year, 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 the soldiers who 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 was exemplary — thank you for all that you do.”

Armed Forces Week culminates in Armed Forces Day on Saturday 26 June, an annual event in which people are invited to show their support to the Armed Forces community.

Record and upload a video to social media in which you pay tribute to someone you know who serves or has served in the Armed Forces, and make sure to use the hashtag #ArmedForcesDay.

Reserves Day is also being celebrated on Wednesday 23 June to recognise the valuable contribution that reservists make to our Armed Forces.

Keep up to date on the Armed Forces Day Facebook and Twitter pages, and find out all of the latest news at www.armedforcesday.org.uk

First-Time Parents Meet Ambulance Call Handler Who Helped Deliver Their Baby Girl

First-time parents who delivered their own baby girl at home have met the 999 call handler who helped to bring their daughter into the world.

Troy Smith, 34, and partner Abigail Jones, 33, delivered baby Arabella Dilys Smith in the bedroom of their Llanelli home with thanks to a Welsh Ambulance Service call handler.

It was father-of-two Chris Bassett who answered the call from the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, and whose instructions on loudspeaker enabled the pair to deliver their 8lb 1oz new arrival safely.

Today, they met for the first time. Troy, who runs Llanelli-based EcoHeat Plumbing and Gas Services, said: “I’ve never felt adrenaline like it but I knew I had to focus on the situation for Abigail and the baby’s sake.’

Troy Smith with partner Abigail Jones, holds his daughter Arabella Dilys Smith, alongside WAST call-handler and former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, Chris.

“It all happened so quickly, but Chris’ voice on the other end of the phone kept us calm.”

Abigail, a teacher at Ysgol Carreg Hir in Briton Ferry, went into labour at around 10.00pm on Thursday 03 June and made a trip to hospital, where nurses confirmed she was in the early stages.

The couple returned to their Pwll home, but their soon-to-be daughter had other ideas.

Troy said: “At around 4.30am, Abigail developed a lot of pain and said she had an urge to push.’

“I thought, ‘Right, this is happening’ and phoned an ambulance because I knew I’d be delivering the baby right there and then.”

It was Chris, a former RAF Aerospace Systems Operator, who picked up the call in the early hours of Friday 04 June.

The 29-year-old, who has been with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 months, said: “As soon as I answered the call, it was obvious that Troy and Abigail were in distress, as anyone would be in that situation.’

“The priority was to get Abigail in a comfortable position to deliver the baby safely.’

“For me, it was about giving them clear instructions while trying to keep them both calm.”

Troy added: “I just did what came naturally. When you’re in that situation, you just do it.’

“As soon as Arabella came, I felt this wave of relief and I just couldn’t believe how gorgeous she was.’

“Chris was so professional and handled the situation really well.’

“He gave us all the information and kept us calm.”

Ambulance crews arrived soon after, and took Abigail to Carmarthen’s Glangwili General Hospital, where she was treated for shock before being discharged the following day.

Abigail said: “The whole thing was petrifying because I just never expected to be having the baby at home, but we’re so grateful to Chris for helping us to deliver Arabella safely.”

Chris, from Hook, Pembrokeshire, added: “In your role as a 999 call handler, you’re helping people in their darkest hour, but I’m just glad this call had a happy ending.

“This is the third baby I’ve helped to deliver during my time at the ambulance service, but the first one I’ve had the pleasure of meeting.”

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.”

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.

Pair Commended for Life-Saving Interventions at Car Crash Aftermath

A nurse and her colleague who delivered life-saving first aid in the aftermath of a serious car crash have been commended for their actions.

District nurse Joanne Curry and her co-worker Simon Clifford were on shift with the GP out-of-hours service when they came across a one-car collision in Abertillery, where four people had been injured, two of them seriously.

Using equipment from the boot of their car, Joanne administered first aid in the minutes before the arrival of the ambulance service, while Simon, her driver, managed the scene.Today, the pair were presented with certificates from the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive Jason Killens.

Jason said: “Serious road traffic accidents can be daunting for even the most seasoned paramedics, so the way Joanne and Simon took control of the scene is testament to their expert skill and professionalism.’

This story may have had a different ending had it not been for their intervention, and we would like to thank Joanne and Simon for their support that day, which made a huge difference to both our crews and the patients.”

The pair were nearing the end of their shift with Aneurin Bevan University Health Board’s GP out-of-hours service on the evening of 01 March 2021when they spotted a car which had left the carriageway of the A467.

Joanne, a nurse of 32 years, said: “We had just left a call in Nantyglo and were heading back down the Valley to finish when I could see in the distance hazard lights from a car in the carriageway.’

“As we got near, I could see that the vehicle was in the bushes on the nearside and was severely damaged.’

“I got out to see if I could offer any assistance in my capacity as a nurse, and luckily the emergency equipment I had in the car meant I was able to provide first aid.’

“When the fire and ambulance service arrived, I briefed them then supported where I could, by fetching equipment.’

“My colleague Simon assisted me in a situation way out of his comfort zone — and mine.”

Simon, who has been a driver for 15 years, added: “It hadn’t long happened when we pulled up to help.’

“Joanne was brilliant and just took it completely in her stride; she was straight out of the car and straight over to the patients, shouting to me what I needed to retrieve from the boot.’

“It was a trying situation but I’m glad we were able to help in some way.”

In all, four ambulances, three rapid response cars and the Trust’s Hazardous Area Response Team were dispatched to the scene, where crews were also supported by a doctor from MEDSERVE Wales and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service.

The four occupants of the car were taken to hospital for treatment.

Judith Paget,
Chief Executive,
Aneurin Bevan University Health Board

Jason said: “This was without doubt a complex and challenging scene, but Joanne and Simon’s actions tipped the balance of survival in the right way.’

“Once again, we commend them for their quick-thinking actions, which made a huge difference that day.”

Judith Paget, Chief Executive at Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, added: “We are extremely proud of both Joanne and Simon for their courageous actions.’

“Their daily roles involve providing excellent care to their patients, but being able to adapt these skills to perform life-saving emergency treatment really is exceptional.’

“Our NHS services in Wales work as one team, and the way Joanne and Simon responded so selflessly is the epitome of this.’

“[We’re] Wishing all casualties involved in the collision a quick recovery.”

Port Talbot Supermarket Staff Commended for Quick-Thinking Actions

Supermarket workers who came to the aid of a customer in cardiac arrest have been praised for their quick-thinking actions.

Staff at Tesco in Port Talbot gave CPR to a man who had collapsed in the car park and delivered two shocks using the store’s defibrillator before the arrival of an ambulance.

Colleagues also made a makeshift helipad to allow for the safe landing of the air ambulance.

Today, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Chief Executive Jason Killens visited the store to extend a thank you for their efforts.

Members of staff from Port Talbot with Jason Killens, Chief Executive of WAST

Jason said: “Every second counts in a cardiac arrest, and the way that colleagues worked together to begin the chain of survival gave this patient the best possible chance

“They’re a shining example of what to do in this sort of scenario, and they should be really proud of their actions.”

A rapid response car, an emergency ambulance, and an air ambulance were dispatched to the Prior Street supermarket after the 999 call in October.

Community First Responder Ashley Page supported Paramedic Richard John in the rapid response car, which arrived within six minutes of the call.

Ashley, who is also an allocator in the Trust’s Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen, said: “When we arrived, good quality CPR was in progress by store staff and an off-duty South Wales Police officer.’

“The store’s defibrillator had already given the patient two shocks, and staff had cleared an area for us to work on the patient and had also made a makeshift helipad.’

“Their collective efforts on that day gave the man a fighting chance, and made the ambulance crews’ job so much easier.”

Today, Chief Executive Jason Killens was joined by the High Sheriff of West Glamorgan, Joanna Jenkins, to present staff at the store with a commendation.

Joanna said: “What store staff and the off-duty South Wales Police officer achieved that day is very impressive.’

“CPR and the use of the store defibrillator, as well as the creation of a makeshift helipad, demonstrate that everything possible was done to assist the customer.’

“This commendation is richly deserved. Many congratulations.”

Store manager Mandy Walsh added: “I am incredibly proud of how our team responded to this emergency.’

“We have trained first-aiders in all our stores in case someone does become ill, but the way our whole store worked together to help this customer is a credit to the professionalism of every colleague involved.”

DJ Swaps Decks for Defibrillator to Turn Volunteer for Welsh Ambulance Service

https://chat.whatsapp.com/AmbulanceTodayDirect

A North Wales radio presenter has swapped the decks for a defibrillator by becoming a volunteer for the Welsh Ambulance Service.

Oli Kemp, one half of ‘Lois & Oli’ on Heart North and Mid Wales, has just completed his training as a Community First Responder so that he can administer life-saving first aid to people in his community.

Oli, originally from London, now living near Llangollen, Denbighshire, has had a long-held ambition to become a first responder, ever since the sudden death of his 20-month-old daughter in 2012.

Oli Kemp in (WAST) Community First Responder uniform

He explained how the COVID-19 pandemic presented a perfect opportunity to pursue his passion, saying: “I’ve always loved the idea of becoming a paramedic but my career as a radio presenter has never really allowed me to pursue it.’

“I think lockdown provided a lot of people with clarity on what they want to do, because you want to look back on your life and to have achieved something.’

“We moved to Wales seven years ago and the community has been very good to us. This is my way of paying something back.”

Oli’s daughter, Willow, was being treated for a chronic lung infection at Manchester Children’s Hospital in 2012 when she suffered a cardiac arrest and sadly died. It was this life-changing event which inspired Oli to think about a career in the ambulance service and which also compelled his wife to train as a nurse.

Oli said: “Willow is my main inspiration for doing this, and also my wife’s, who now works as a nurse at Denbigh Community Hospital. That period in our life had its challenges, but we also learnt a lot about the NHS and how it works.’

“The community we live in is very rural, and I imagine that sometimes it’s difficult for an ambulance to get there quickly.

“Anything I can do to help people in the time before the ambulance arrives will hopefully make a difference.”

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.

Oli said: “It is a bit nerve-wracking, especially when I think about the prospect of attending my first cardiac arrest, but that’s why you do your training.

“The fact that I’m helping people in my own community means there’s some familiarity there, so that helps to take the edge off. I’ll fit the volunteering around the radio show, so will likely do mornings and weekends.’

“My colleagues at Heart are really proud of me; there was definitely some gentle ribbing when I told them I’d qualified, but they’re chuffed I’m doing something positive.”

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

A group of new Community First Response volunteers from WAST

“Oli’s one of seven new volunteers to join the service in North Wales, and we’re pleased that he has turned a tragedy into something positive to help people in their hour of need.’

“The Covid-19 pandemic has meant we’ve had to think differently about the way we deliver training to volunteers, and Oli was part of a cohort of new recruits to complete a brand new training package, which included some e-learning.’

“We’re taking some time now to evaluate that training, so while we’re not recruiting volunteers right now, we look forward to opening our books again in the coming months.”

Glyn added: “Volunteering at the Welsh Ambulance Service has come a long way in the last two decades.’

“Our volunteers 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.’

“There are new and exciting plans afoot as we further embrace our volunteers as part of the #TeamWAST family, and we extend a warm welcome to our new recruits, including Oli.”

You can learn more about the role of Community First Responders here at http://www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk/en/96

Annual Carers Survey Launched by Welsh Ambulance

If you look after a family member or friend, then the Welsh Ambulance Service wants to hear from you during August as part of its Carers Survey 2020.

Caring for anybody with a physical or mental disability, a person with substance misuse issues or providing extra help as someone grows older can be extremely testing and impact on the carer’s own life and wellbeing.

The Ambulance Service would love to hear your experiences of caring — especially if you’ve had cause to use any of their services such as emergency care response, falls team, non-emergency patient transport or community engagement work.

Executive Director of Quality and Nursing for Welsh Ambulance, Claire Roche said: “Gathering personal experiences from carers is vital to us and will help build greater understanding and shape how we meet their needs in the future.’

Claire Roche,
Executive Director of Quality & Nursing,
WAST

“I would urge anybody in a care role to make their voice heard and let us know via the survey how they have found our response when they have needed to call.”

Run by the Patient Experience and Community Involvement (PECI) team, the survey is in its second year.

Matt James from the PECI team added: “Reaching out to those who are caring for loved ones can be a lifeline.’

“To provide a safe forum and support network is essential in helping people feel understood and that they are not alone.

“Our annual survey will help us to further understand the issues faced by people we may not physically be able to reach.”

Follow the work Welsh Ambulance do with carers on Twitter @WelshAmbPIH.

To take the survey visit https://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/1_WASTCarers2020/