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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

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.”

Welsh Ambulance Service And Macmillan Cancer Support Launch New Initiative To Improve Care For Terminally Ill Patients

The Welsh Ambulance Service has joined forces with Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, launching a new initiative to improve the care delivered to terminally ill patients.

The collaboration, which launched during Dying Matters Awareness Week (10-16 May 2021), is designed to improve the training delivered to ambulance crews so they can provide the very best care for patients at the end of life.

The training helps to give staff a greater understanding of end of life care, supporting clinicians to better recognise when a patient is nearing end of their life, and improving communication and symptom management skills to prevent avoidable hospital admissions.

Ed O’Brian, Macmillan Paramedic and the Trust’s End of Life Care Lead, said: “The collaboration between Welsh Ambulance and Macmillan Cancer Support will bring huge benefits to patients and staff across Wales.

“Ambulance clinicians are often called to assist patients nearing the end of their life due to an advanced or terminal illness, so it’s vital they can do so having had the appropriate training and with the right support structure around them to deliver the best care.’

“The network of support being developed as part of this project in conjunction with Palliative Care Wales is invaluable, such as the ability for an ambulance clinician anywhere in Wales to be able to contact a palliative medicine doctor 24/7 from the patient’s home to seek their advice and guidance in order to achieve the best outcome for the patient.’

“The two-year project will also help us to identify why, where and when patients at the end of life are needing to access the ambulance service, so we can identify areas for further development across the health and care sector in Wales.”

This is the latest in a series of initiatives between the Welsh Ambulance Service and Macmillan Cancer Support designed to improve the care that palliative patients receive.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “Macmillan is so very proud to be able to help fund this project through the fantastic and tireless support given by our fundraisers.’

“This first-of-its-kind partnership means we can help people, and their loved ones, to spend their final days in the way they want.’

“As people near the end of life, dignity and the knowledge that their final wishes have been met is the best comfort and gift we can give them.”

In 2019, the Welsh Ambulance Service won an NHS Wales Award in the Delivering Person-Centred Services category for its End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service, as well as the Outstanding Contribution to Transforming Health and Care Award.

The End of Life Care Rapid Transport Service, delivered by the Trust’s Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service, works with teams across Wales to provide transport for terminally ill patients to their preferred place of death.

The enhanced service ensures patients and their families have minimal delays, helping to reduce any further distress and anxiety.

The dedicated service has made nearly 2,000 compassionate journeys since its introduction in 2017.

The Trust was also the first ambulance service in the UK to introduce ‘Just in Case’ medications to its frontline emergency vehicles, allowing paramedics to better manage the symptoms that may sometimes be experienced as terminally ill patients become more poorly.

Nikki Pease, Palliative Care Consultant at Velindre University NHS Trust, added: “Where and how people die matters.’

“This all-Wales collaborative project serves to ensure first class end of life care to all.”

Join The Welsh Ambulance Service’s New People and Community Network

The Welsh Ambulance Service is inviting the public to join its brand new network.

Members of the Trust’s People and Community Network can attend meetings, take surveys and share their own experience at the hands of the ambulance service in order to shape the way services are delivered.

They can also take part in ‘Mystery Shopper’ exercises to identify where improvements could be made, whether to its Emergency Medical Service, Non-Emergency Patient Transport Service or NHS 111 Wales.

The network launches this week, and is open to patients, carers, community groups or anyone with an interest in how the Welsh Ambulance Service works.

Leanne Hawker, the Trust’s Head of Patient Experience and Community Involvement, said: “Patients are at the heart of everything we do, so it’s important we hear first-hand from people with lived experience in order to deliver meaningful improvements.’

“With the launch of this network comes an opportunity to engage with people we may not have engaged with before, and enlist as broad a spectrum of people as possible to allow us to deliver more person-centred care.’

“In turn, we hope to build a network for all people from all backgrounds, truly representative of the communities we serve.”

Leanne added: “The co-design of services with our communities is key to delivering the best ambulance service possible for people in Wales.’

“For us, this is about innovating services for the needs of people, through the inclusion of people.’

“Put simply, our message is this – be part of the change you want to see.”

To join the People and Community Network, please complete this online form.

Alternatively, you can email PECI.Team@wales.nhs.uk or call 01792 311773.

Members of the network will receive regular communications from the Welsh Ambulance Service and will be given the chance to participate in a Welcome Day.

Follow @WelshAmbPECI on Twitter for more news and updates about the People and Community Network.

Welsh Ambulance Service Donates Laptops To Schoolchildren In Need

The Welsh Ambulance Service donated more than 100 of its old computers to help schoolchildren in South Wales with remote learning through Covid-19.

Tens of thousands of children in Wales had to study from home when schools closed their doors through the pandemic – but not all families had a computer.

The Trust was one of 20 organisations who answered a call for surplus ICT equipment which could be put to good use, and donated 107 of its ‘pre-loved’ computers and laptops to the cause.

From left to right: Cllr Lis Burnett, Paramedic Petra Geddes, James Evans from A & LH Environmental Services Ltd, and pupils of Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.

Nicola Stephens, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Estates Officer and Environmental Specialist, said: “The pandemic meant we had to make huge changes, not just as an emergency service but as a society.’

“The support we had from the public was overwhelming, and this was our way of paying something back, a small token of our appreciation.’

“We could help, so we did, and hopefully among the recipients there are pupils who one day might consider a career in the ambulance service.’

“As an organisation we are very aware of our environmental impact, and being able to re-use this equipment rather than recycle it is a small but positive step.”

The Trust joined forces with A & LH Environmental Services Ltd to refurbish the old equipment, which was wiped completely clean of secure data prior to distribution.

Alun Haines, Managing Director of A & LH Environmental Services Ltd, said: “To us, it seemed like the obvious way to help during a really tough year.’

Pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg

“We have the capabilities to ensure the equipment was completely data clear and tested before passing it to the Vale of Glamorgan Council to distribute among schools.’

“With the help of the Welsh Ambulance Service and the Vale of Glamorgan Council, we’ve been able to help lots of children to continue learning, and we will continue to help where we can.”

Among the schools gifted with equipment was Barry’s Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.

Head teacher Rhys Angell-Jones said: “As the school continues to develop, technology has been at the forefront in our education and provision and as a school we promote our pupils to be digital leaders.’

“We are extremely grateful for this donation which will have a direct impact on our pupils’ progress

“Thank you for this kind donation.” 

Digital Leader Dilwyn Owen added: “We are delighted to receive these computers from the ambulance service.’

“Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg prides itself on our use of IT within the curriculum.’

“Blended learning over the past year has reinforced our vision of a device for all pupils.’

“These tools will improve our provision within the school and bring the reality of a digital curriculum closer.”

ICT equipment was distributed to schools via local authorities.

Councillor Lis Burnett, Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said: “We’d like to thank the Welsh Ambulance Service and A & LH Environmental Services Ltd for these computers, which I’m sure will be of huge benefit to the pupils that use them.’

“A range of ICT equipment has been donated by companies during the pandemic.’

“This has helped support home learning for pupils and school staff and also provided extra resources for the classroom.”

Welsh Ambulance Service Commends Military’s Contribution to COVID-19 Effort

The Welsh Ambulance Service has extended a thanks to the Armed Forces for its support through the Coronavirus pandemic.

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

Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

Lee Brooks,
Director of Operations,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Today, the Trust presented a commemorative plaque to Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE, the commander for military support in Wales, as a token of its appreciation.

Lee Brooks, Director of Operations, said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has been the most challenging period in our history, but having the military on board put us in the best possible position to face the task ahead.’

“We were very fortunate to have enlisted their support, and the presence of military colleagues was well received by staff, volunteers and our patients alike.’

“We’ve enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the military, which has been further strengthened as a result of their support through COVID-19.’

“We were thrilled to present Brigadier Dawes with a token of our appreciation today.”

Jason Killens,
Chief Executive,
Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust

Chief Executive Jason Killens added: “We’re extremely proud and grateful to have had the military working alongside our staff in the collective effort against COVID-19.

“Their support has not only strengthened our existing relationships with the Armed Forces community but has opened up new opportunities for collaboration in future.’

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

More than 20,000 military personnel were tasked with supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘Covid Support Force’.

Their support of the Welsh Ambulance Service, under what is known as Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA), has now drawn to a close.

Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE said: “Over the last 12 months, we have all faced challenges beyond our imagination.

“Our resilience has been pushed to a point none of us could have anticipated.’

“Throughout I have been struck by the unwavering commitment of our health care providers across Wales and the selfless way each and every one of them has faced setback, loss, trauma and exhaustion — yet carried on.’

“We in the military are humbled and extremely proud to have been able to step up and support NHS Wales when it was needed.’

“It has been a genuine privilege to work side by side with our partners in the Welsh Ambulance Services during the past year.’

“Men and women from across the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force have been supporting the Welsh Government’s response to COVID-19 for more than a year.’

From LEft to Right: Director of Operations Lee Brooks, Brigadier Andrew Dawes CBE, Chief Executive Jason Killens, and Major Chris Graham

“In April 2020, our first military teams deployed to the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust after an intensive training package in Sennybridge.’

“More teams followed in the summer and again on Christmas Eve and have only now recently concluded their work.’

“At the height of our support to the Welsh Ambulance Service, more than 100 of our people from across a range of Army units were deployed as ambulance crews, supporting more than 12,000 callouts across Wales.’

“I have heard some extraordinary stories from those service personnel involved.’

“They have all been humbled by the professionalism and commitment of the ambulance crews who deal with the unexpected and traumatic with empathy and patience on a daily basis.’

“We have forged a lasting relationship with the ambulance service, an organisation with whom we share very similar values, a work ethic and a sense of duty.’

“It has been a real honour to work alongside them.”