Welcome to SWASFT

December 2018

Paramedics Train For Major Incidents

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Paramedics from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are doing an enhanced training programme to help them if they ever face a major emergency involving a large number of casualties.

The training is intended to help them save lives in the most serious incidents, including hazardous chemical incidents, terrorist bombs, or firearms attacks.

It should enhance the disaster management skills of paramedics with specialist software to help simulate major disasters like a hazardous chemical incident, a terrorist bomb or a firearms attack.

It will also help commanders to organise ambulance crews and NHS assets to the scene to quickly help triage and treat patients affected and the public at large.  

As part of their training a team of SWASFT paramedics from across the South West and the Isles of Scilly were tasked with responding to a mock gas explosion scenario at Sandy Park rugby stadium in Exeter on 6 December.

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Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) is working with SWASFT to provide pre-course and post-course enrichment materials via their Online Learning portal, so the training can be completed by paramedics currently working on the frontline.

Robert Flute, Emergency Preparedness Resilience and Response (EPRR) Command Training Advisor, said: “The new online aspect of our command courses will greatly benefit SWASFT’s wider vision for the ambulance service as a regional centre of best practice in incident command training.

“Working with Bournemouth University Disaster Management Centre can only enhance the standing of our courses which are seen as best practice. SWASFT is the first ambulance trust to offer this unique partnership.”

SWASFT already has a robust Incident Response Plan in place to deal with major incidents of this kind but this online training will help paramedics in command practice their resilience skills in advance so they are ready to deal with a large amount of casualties well in advance, and response appropriately.

They will learn how to manage interagency meetings, support medical and other responders who may assist SWASFT at a major incident. This eLearning will aid retention and enhance knowledge in between physical attendance at a command course.

BUDMC’s bespoke e-learning platform will support all of our command courses for operational on scene commanders, and for those manging the wider tactical Trust response as well as the senior managers overseeing the strategic response and recovery from any disruptive challenge.

This online platform will allow our commanders to have access to a wide range of online training materials including simulated command groups, health advice and questions in such a way as is easily accessible from any device.

SWASFT will be able to set assessment exercises and the software can issue certificates to students who successfully complete a given module of the online training.

The platform has excellent reporting functions so training staff can monitor the progress of each individual through the course content.

In addition, SWASFT’s suite of command courses have been awarded full CPD accreditation. The accreditation means that SWASFT is officially recognised as an Accredited Provider with the CPD Standards Office.

The assessment team looked at:

  • The learning methodology of the training engagement of the participants
  • If the command skills are retainable and transferable
  • The educational authority of the training; where the content was sourced from, and how it was put together.

Wells Responder Team wins Commitment Award

Wells CFR team receive award

A group of Somerset volunteer Community First Responders for the City of Wells have won the 2018 'Group Award’ for showing ‘outstanding commitment to their community’. (group pictured attached). The hardworking group consists of a retired nurse, a fuel tanker driver and a Sales planner who fit their volunteering around their day jobs.

Cody Worthington, Community Responder Officer stated; “The Wells team provide some of the best overall cover and activity of any responder group in the county. They work extremely hard as a team and offer support to other community first responder team. They deserve recognition for their dedication, hard work and invaluable assistance they provide”

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The Wells Community First Responder team formed in 2002, the group is made up of members of the public who give up their time to respond to emergency calls for the Ambulance Service. They are trained by Ambulance staff and have regular up to date training. At present the team has four active members. Each responder provides approximately 15 hours of voluntary emergency cover each week for their community on top of their day jobs.

The team are a very committed team and have raised funds to purchase their own responder car. They are supported by the Ambulance Service Responder Liaison Officer- Lidia Griguoli, a Specialist Paramedic. She delivers monthly educational sessions to the group on a variety of subjects for example heart attacks, emergency management of diabetes, asthma and epilepsy. The group also undertake twice yearly requalifying on basic life support to ensure they are current and fit to practice. She stated 'I am delighted that the Wells group have won this award and deserve the recognition for the service and the many hours they provide in volunteering their life-saving skills.'

If you are aged over 18 years old and are interested in playing a vital role in your community by providing emergency cover and being part of a very committed team

Please go on to www.jobs.nhs.uk to apply.

12 Days of Christmas Messages

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are urging the public to choose well throughout the festive period and for the rest of the winter season. Today (12 December) the Trust is launching a campaign called the ‘12 Days of Christmas’, which has messages from ambulance staff on staying safe, drink driving, appropriate calls to 999 as well as flu advice and reminders about stocking up on your medicines. Here is our first message from Paul the Paramedic https://youtu.be/aSlpMJjqfl0

SWASFT are encouraging these important messages to be shared along with #999WinterMessages – and are asking people to retweet them, not only for the ‘12 days of Christmas’ period, but for the rest of the holiday season.

SWASFT is committed to delivering the right care in the right place at the right time, but as the organisation is anticipating more than 3,000 incidents a day during peak times over the Christmas holidays, the public are being reminded to only call the ambulance service in the event of a life-threatening emergency.

For conditions including, cardiac arrest, choking, severe chest pain, suspected stroke, serious blood loss and unconsciousness you should dial 999. Using the ambulance service in the correct way will help us ensure that patients with a time-critical, life threatening condition are reached as soon as possible.

Alternative healthcare options for less serious conditions include, visiting your GP or local pharmacy, visiting a minor injury unit, a NHS walk-in centre or calling NHS 111.

When celebrating during the festive season it is important to be prepared. For example, always arrange your transport home ahead of an evening out and if you take regular medication ensure that you have a supply to last throughout the bank holiday weekends.

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Ken Wenman, Chief Executive for SWASFT, said: “All our staff out on the road and in the clinical hubs work extremely hard to deliver the right care to our patients. The winter season is a particularly busy time for the Trust and it is important to reserve 999 services for genuine, time-critical and life threatening situations where emergency care really can mean the difference between life and death.

“There are a wide variety of healthcare services available for a range of conditions and it is really important that people choose well, especially during periods when the demand for the ambulance service is high.” The Trust is putting on additional staff and resources to help meet the additional demand and wish residents of and visitors to the South West a safe, healthy and happy festive period.

Share: #999WinterMessages - remember to like and retweet our important 12 days of Christmas messages for the rest of the holiday season.

SWASFT’s 12 days of Christmas messages:

  • Choose your service wisely – get the right care at the right time – only call 999 for emergencies such as cardiac arrest, stroke, serious bleeding, unconscious or breathing difficulties.
  • Stock up your medicines – don’t forget to take your medicines if you’re staying away.
  • Flu – Have you had your flu jab? If you get flu visit your pharmarcy, rest, keep warm, drink water.
  • Norovirus – if you get Norovirus: stay hydrated, take paracetamol, prevent spread by washing hands and stay at home for 2 days.
  • Bystander CPR – check if patient breathing, step in and take action, call 999 to help with instructions for chest compressions
  • Stay safe on nights out – plan your journey, stay with your friends
  • Be drink aware - allocate a driver home, and know your limits
  • In appropriate or hoax callers – keep an eye on your children, and your phone during the holidays!
  • Child callers – inform your children what to do in an emergency, and to know their address and your condition.
  • Help us to help you – stay healthy this winter and check your GP’s opening hours
  • Cold weather advice – check on neighbours and vulnerable people this winter - are they eating properly and have they got their medicines?
  • Cook the turkey well – make sure your turkey is defrosted, preferably in the bottom of the fridge, it may take 2 days https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/cooking-turkey-safely/ and make sure it is cooked properly.
  • FAST – Know how to spot the signs of a stroke – Face, arms, speech and time – Act FAST https://www.stroke.org.uk/what-is-stroke/what-are-the-symptoms-of-stroke

Inappropriate Calls Put Lives At Risk

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is urging people only to call 999 in a genuine emergency this Christmas.

Demand for the service is likely to peak between Saturday 22 December and Boxing Day when staff are expecting to deal with more than 3,100 incidents a day.

Managers warn that unnecessary calls over the busy festive period could delay emergency help for people in real need of an ambulance.

SWASFT has released a montage of clips from 10 inappropriate calls it received from the public recently, as examples of people calling 999 for the wrong reasons. To listen to the montage, click here. A transcript is available to read below.

The 10 inappropriate calls were made to SWASFT because:

  1. A man had found in an injured seagull in his house.
  2. A woman’s dog had died.
  3. A man was having strange dreams.
  4. A woman’s finger nail had come off.
  5. A woman had punched a wall.
  6. A man was sweating when using his computer.
  7. A man wanted a lift home.
  8. A man wanted some non-urgent medical advice.
  9. A woman wanted to be transferred to the 101 police non-emergency number, which costs 15p per call, because she had run out of phone credit.
  10. A woman wanted to complain about the noise of ambulance sirens.

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It comes as part of SWASFT’s ‘12 Days of Christmas’ campaign, which encourages people to look after themselves over the festive season and to use the ambulance service wisely.

People are reminded only to call 999 when someone is seriously ill or injured, and their life may be at risk.

David Fletcher, Head of SWASFT Clinical Hubs, said: “The 999 service is only to be used for extremely urgent or life-threatening emergencies, and we urge people to use it wisely.

“If you call because someone is unconscious, not breathing, or has serious bleeding, you are making the right call.

“But calling for an ambulance when it is not absolutely necessary puts additional pressure on our limited resources, and may mean we cannot reach those who are most in need.

"During peak periods, like the festive season, every inappropriate call has the potential to put a life at risk and delay a response to a genuine emergency.

“Please think carefully before calling 999 and ask yourself – ‘is it a real emergency?’”

For non-emergency incidents: phone NHS 111, see a GP or a pharmacist, or visit an NHS Walk in Centre. 

Inappropriate calls transcript

Call 1

“Ambulance service – is the patient breathing?”

“I’ve just got home, and I’ve found a seagull in my house.”

“You’ve found a seagull in your house?”

“And the seagull is bleeding. You know? It’s a baby one.”

“Sir, we don’t deal with animals; we deal with humans.”

Call 2

“It’s my dog. It’s died, dead.”

“Your dog has died?”

“Yes, today, yes.”

“We are the emergency service, the ambulance service. And we don’t do anything with animals. Alright?”

“I understand. Thank you very much for your help.”

“You’re welcome.”

Call 3

“Right, so what’s happened to you? What are your symptoms?”

“I keep having very very strange dreams.”

 Call 4

“I’ve had this before basically. My whole nail has come off, and it’s bleeding. And they told me last time I needed to get an ambulance.”

“The 999 service is extremely busy, and priority is being given to patients who are assessed as immediately at risk of dying.”

“Yeah. I’ve just been at the hospital for three hours, and no one’s seen me.” 

Call 5

“So, what’s happening is - she’s my flatmate - and in her anger and rage, she punched what seems to be a concrete wall. Now there’s swelling, and apparently really bad pains in her hand.”

“So, it’s swollen hand. And…”

“Swollen hand; pains; instant bruising.”

Call 6

“I’ve been told: anything else, phone 999. This is going back a couple of days, but I usually phone the 111 service.

“I’ve got a computer in my bedroom, which when I switch it on causes me to sweat. So it’s dripping off the end of my nose.

“Okay, you say, it’s excessive sweating, is it?”


Call 7

“Basically I phoned ambulance earlier on, and now I’ve been told to phone you again to see whether I can get help on getting home.”

“Getting home? No, you need to speak to the hospital. We’re the ambulance service, we don’t take people home sir.”

Call 8

“Ambulance service - is the patient breathing?”

“No, I don’t need no one to come out. I just need some advice."

Call 9

“Could you put me through to 101?”

“Why do you need 101?”

“I can’t get through to it, because I’ve got no credit.”

Call 10

“Hello. Actually, you need to turn the ambulance sirens down. They hurt people’s ears, and it can cause an accident.

“I don’t know who to call. But this is the ambulance number. So I’m calling this.

“I’m trying to cover my baby’s ears, and I can’t cover my own ears.

“The whole thing is a hazard. It’s too noisy for human ears. It hurts my ears. Do you understand?”

“Okay, Madame. What’s your address, Madame?"

“I don’t want to give you my address, because I think you’ll just say I called inappropriately.”

South Western Ambulance Charity logo

South Western Ambulance Charity

The South Western Ambulance Charity, founded in 1995, uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of the staff and volunteers of the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust. 

Our charitable support covers Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire including Bristol and Swindon.

If you would like to show your appreciation for the care that you or your loved one has received from us in the form of a charitable donation please visit our online giving website: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/charities/SWASC.