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February 2018

SWASFT Community First Responder Mike wins unsung hero award

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer has won a national award for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Community First Responder (CFR) Mike Kemp was given the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards 2018.

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Mike has covered the Liskeard and Looe area of Cornwall for 15 years. He has attended more than 3,000 incidents, including over 200 cardiac arrests. Mike was also a member of St John’s Ambulance from age 11 for more than 50 years.

Mike said: “I’m delighted to have won this award. It’s fantastic for CFRs, who do some much great work, and for the Trust as a whole to be recognised in this way. I couldn’t do what I do without the help of the other volunteers – and our superb 999 Control Hub team.

“It’s such a privilege to volunteer in this way and know you’re helping people in the community when they are most in need. I’m going to continue being a CFR for as long as I’m able to do so.”

Rich Buckley, Acting Responder Manager for SWASFT, said: “Mike has been instrumental in saving the lives of numerous patients in and around his community, and he makes a real difference to everyone he treats.

“He is unable to walk down the high street of the area he lives without being stopped and thanked by a patient, friend or relative of somebody he has treated.”

CFRs are trained volunteers who support their local community by attending emergency calls on behalf of SWASFT while an ambulance is on its way.

They respond to particular types of medical emergencies where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.

There are almost 1,000 CFRs who volunteer for SWASFT, covering hundreds of locations across the South West.

Mike was one of four SWASFT employees and volunteers – as well as many other non-clinical NHS staff – who were officially recognised acknowledged at the event on Friday.

CFRs Anna Smith and Craig Holmes were also shortlisted for the Volunteer of the Year award.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Team Leader, Harriet La Trobe, was shortlisted for the ‘Life Saver’ accolade – after stepping-in to provide vital life support to an injured driver from a serious road traffic accident.

EMAs give vital lifesaving medical advice, including CPR instructions and other first aid help, to callers so they can help patients during an emergency.

The Unsung Hero Awards were created to celebrate the hard work of NHS non-medical staff members.

The awards were presented during a ceremony at The Principal Hotel in Manchester City Centre on Friday 23 February.

An event spokeswoman said: “The Unsung Hero Awards is all about recognising people who go above and beyond the call of duty. In our opinion Mike Kemp at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust is a perfect example of the type of person that these awards have been specifically designed for. He’s been instrumental in saving the lives of numerous patients in and around his community. He deserves to be recognised for his hard work. We hope that his story will inspire others to volunteer.”

Community to benefit from new SWASFT defibrillartor

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) defibrillator has been officially launched in a Cornish seaside town, as a legacy to a local man who died in the place he loved most of all.

Graham Anthony, 71, had a cardiac arrest during a visit to Readymoney Cove in Fowey with his wife in October 2017.

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Emergency services personnel – including SWASFT paramedics – carried out treatment on Graham from Callington near Liskeard, but he was pronounced dead at the scene.

The defibrillator, which is registered with SWASFT, was officially commissioned during a special ceremony at Readymoney on Thursday 15 February – during which Graham’s wife Angela gave a short address.

Angela, a retired NHS nurse, said: “I am so grateful to those people who came to our aid, including two nurses on holiday who helped with CPR and passers-by who helped Graham get out of his wheelchair. The paramedics, Coastguard, RNLI, Air Ambulance, the GP, and the Police were all magnificent. Paul Kimberley, the Specialist Paramedic, exhibited a special degree of professionalism and compassion. You all tried so hard to save him.

“Thank you so much to the people of Fowey for their generosity, especially Victoria Clarke who worked so hard to get this device implemented.

“Graham would’ve been so happy that some good has come out of his death. This is a legacy to him. Fowey was his favourite place in the world.

“I hope this defibrillator is never needed. But if there is an emergency this could save a life, and that’s what matters the most.”

A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart through the chest wall to someone who is in cardiac arrest.

Paul Kimberley said: “From a tragedy has come this legacy in memory of Graham’s life. Readymoney Cove was his favourite place in the world. This life-saving piece of equipment will reduce the risk of this happening to other people. It is a fitting tribute to him.”

Local shop owner, Victoria Clarke, spearheaded a campaign to raise £1,600 for a public defibrillator beside the sandy beach. She also paid for the device to be installed on the wall by her café.

Victoria said: “It was a tragic event to happen. Although there were several public access defibrillators in Fowey, none of them were sufficiently close enough to be of assistance on that day.

“The local community in Fowey was really shocked by what happened. Readymoney is an iconic place that is important to a lot of people. It’s more than just a beach.

“So the fundraising campaign resonated strongly with residents and tourists. The response was phenomenal – donations kept coming in, and we reached the target very quickly.

“It was desperately sad that Graham lost his life, but having a defibrillator on site provides hope that should such an incident occur in the future, loss of life could potentially be avoided.”

Local charity Coast Medic installed the defibrillator and registered it with SWASFT.

Founder Luke Tudor, who is a SWASFT paramedic, said: “There are many remote locations in Cornwall, which are challenging for ambulances to reach quickly. But having a public access defibrillator in place is another way of ensuring a quick response to a cardiac arrest incident.”

Since the Readymoney defibrillator was installed in January, funds have been raised for another device at Fowey Gallants sailing club.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body. Each year in the UK around 30,000 people are treated for a cardiac arrest outside of hospital.

Only around 1 in 10 people survive to return home, but public access defibrillators can make a critical difference to the chances of survival.

SWASFT Community First Responders shortlisted for unsung hero award

Three South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteers have been shortlisted for a national award.

Community First Responders (CFRs): Anna Smith, Mike Kemp and Craig Holmes have all been put forward for the Volunteer of the Year award at the Unsung Hero Awards 2018.

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CFRs are trained volunteers who support their local community by attending emergency calls on behalf of SWASFT while an ambulance is on its way.

They respond to particular types of medical emergencies where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.

There are almost 1,000 CFRs who volunteer for SWASFT, covering hundreds of locations across the South West.

Anna has been a CFR for two years and is now team leader for the Chard group in Somerset.

She said: “I love being there for my local community. People go through very challenging experiences and you can’t underestimate the importance of having somebody available to respond. I’ve dealt with plenty of difficult incidents, but it’s fantastic to be able to help people in their time of need.”

Rich Buckley, Acting Responder Manager for SWASFT, said: “Anna is an incredible lady who is very humble about her role; she is an asset to her community and to SWASFT, and is someone I am proud to work with. Her compassion is unrivalled and her skill level exemplary.”

Mike was a member of St John’s Ambulance from age 11 for more than 50 years. He has been a SWASFT CFR for over 15 years in South East Cornwall. He has provided over 32,500 hours of cover and has attended over 200 cardiac arrests.

Mike said: “It’s such a privilege to volunteer in this way and know you’re helping people.”

Rich said: “Mike has been instrumental in saving the lives of numerous patients in and around his community, and he makes a real difference to everyone he treats.

“He is unable to walk down the high street of the area he lives without being stopped and thanked by a patient, friend or relative of somebody he has treated.”

Craig has given over 40,000 hours of service and has attended more than 1,250 incidents over seven years in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.

He said: “I was absolutely over-the-moon to be nominated, and I thought anything else would be a bonus. I volunteer with a superb bunch of people who all deserve to be recognised.

“It’s impossible for ambulance crews to be everywhere, especially in rural areas. So CFRs play a vital role, and ultimately save lives.”

Allison Tovey, Emergency Care Assistant for SWASFT, said: “Craig demonstrates unending enthusiasm and commitment to his role. He gives so much of himself, his time and his energy.”

Not only do the trio save lives by responding to emergencies, they also pass on their knowledge new CFRs.

The Unsung Hero Awards were created to celebrate the hard work of NHS non-medical staff members. The awards will be presented at a dinner ceremony at The Principal Hotel in Manchester City Centre on Friday 23 February.

SWASFT Emergency Medical Advisor (EMA), Harriet La Trobe, has been shortlisted for the ‘Life Saver’ accolade.

Emergency Medical Advisor, Harriet, shortlisted for unsung hero award

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 control hub staff member has been shortlisted for a national award following her heroic actions at the scene of a serious road traffic accident.

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Emergency Medical Advisor (EMA) Team Leader, Harriet La Trobe, was on her way home from a busy Friday night shift in the Exeter control room when she saw a van collide with the back of a stationary lorry in queuing traffic on the A38 Devon Expressway.

She said: “There was a loud bang and a large cloud of smoke. The car flew up into the air, and then landed back on its wheels with the roof peeled off. I didn’t think anyone inside would have survived. It was a horrendous scene.”

Harriet, 28, stepped-in to provide vital life support for the injured driver, Paul Cioffi.

Now she has been shortlisted for the ‘Life Saver’ accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards 2018.

Harriet said: “I’m delighted to have been shortlisted for a national hero award. I am so excited about the awards ceremony. It will be an honour to represent the Trust, because of what happened that morning.”

The incident occurred on the Plymouth-bound carriageway at Haldon Hill in April 2016. Traffic was at a standstill in the area, due to a separate incident further down the road.

Harriet, who has worked for SWASFT since September 2015, witnessed the crash and immediately dialed 999 to report it.

She found Paul lying on the ground with a serious pelvis injury and a head injury – after he had been pulled from his van. He was also confused, and in a lot of pain.

Harriet said: “There were lots of bystanders, but they disappeared when they saw my green uniform. They probably thought I was a paramedic who knew what I was doing!”

With the help of an army reservist, who had been driving another vehicle, Harriet cared for Paul and tried to keep him awake until an ambulance arrived.

Then she assisted paramedics by them helping to move Paul onto a trolley, supplying him with oxygen, and cutting-off his clothes so that the crew could assess and treat his wounds.

Several weeks later Harriet saw an appeal from Paul to find the woman who “saved his life”. She got in touch with him, and they were soon reunited. He then invited her to attend his wedding later in the summer.

Harriet said: “I wanted to do what I could to help the patient as an extension of my EMA role.

“The crash has helped me to learn so much about myself and my job. And it even prompted me to make some changes in my own life.”

She was nominated for the award by control manager, Zoe Luke.

Zoe said: “Harriet stopped and cared for the patient whilst on her way home from duty, despite not having any clinical training or background. She then assisted the crew in continuing to deliver first class patient care. Harriet demonstrated the Trust's values and behaviours throughout the care and compassion she gave to this patient.”

EMAs give vital lifesaving medical advice, including CPR instructions and other first aid help, to callers to help patients during an emergency.

The Unsung Hero Awards were created to celebrate the hard work of NHS non-medical staff members. The awards will be presented at a dinner ceremony at The Principal Hotel in Manchester City Centre on Friday 23 February.

The other SWASFT staff members shortlisted are: Mike Kemp, Anna Smith and Craig Holmes – all for the ‘Volunteer of the Year’ award.

Cardiac arrest survivor, Tony, to meet lifesaving team

An amateur footballer is to be reunited with a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) “hero” paramedic and two members of the public who saved his life when he had a cardiac arrest whilst driving.

Tony Timbrell, 58, from Bath, lost consciousness at the wheel of his Mercedes Estate at a busy junction in the city after playing football.

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He said: “I remember feeling dizzy, but I decided to try and drive home anyway. Then my mind went blank until I woke up in hospital three days later.”

SWASFT Operations Officer Andy Richardson – together with Bath residents Ryan Jordan and Susan Baio – treated Tony at the scene on Pines Way to keep him alive.

Tony and Andy have developed a close bond since the incident in December 2012 – and now the whole group is to be reunited for the first time.

Tony said: “I am hugely grateful for what they did for me. Between them they kept the oxygen going to my brain, to give me a fighting chance of survival. They lived every second of it; it must’ve been very traumatic. But without them I wouldn’t be here. They are absolute heroes.”

Self-employed builder, Ryan, 39, was travelling to meet a friend for dinner when he saw the stationary vehicle angled across two lanes of the highway.

He rushed over to find paint company sales manager, Tony, collapsed locked inside the vehicle with the engine still running.

“I knew he was in trouble,” Ryan said. “He was unconscious with saliva coming out of his mouth. Some people were walking and driving past, but I wanted to do something for him. He was fighting for his life.”

Ryan dialled 999, and Andy arrived in a rapid response vehicle within a couple of minutes.

Andy forced entry to the car by smashing the rear passenger window with an oxygen bottle, and Ryan dragged him out onto the ground.

Ryan was joined by Susan who carried out chest compressions on Tony together, while Andy provided advanced life support.

With the help of local police officers, the trio managed to get return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) before an ambulance arrived.

Former nursery owner, Susan, 57, said: “I saw the car and thought something wasn’t right. We were his only chance of survival. It seemed so unlikely he would come back to consciousness. But we kept going, because we were determined to keep him alive. I remember thinking ‘oxygen in, pump it around’. Then I saw some movement in his lips.

“I never expected to see him again though. So I was totally elated when Tony contacted me. It shows just how much difference people can make doing chest compressions together.”

Tony, who is married with three adult children, was taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma for three days. He went on to make a good recovery.

Ryan said: “No family wants to go through a tragedy just before Christmas. I could never have walked away. So I just got on with it and played my part. I was so pleased to hear Tony was alive. The outcome could have been so different.”

Andy added: “Even basic CPR dramatically improves someone’s chance of surviving. Tony is living proof of that. You don’t have to be highly skilled or professionally trained to do it. You just need to get stuck in and have a go.”

Tony and Andy meet-up every year at Christmas for a meal, and Tony gives gifts to Andy to express his continued gratitude.

Andy has also led a masterclass for Tony’s football team to teach them CPR.

A photo message tweeted by Andy on Christmas Day of him with Tony, received more than 10,000 views from locations including Canada and Australia.

Andy posted: “This is Tony, 5 years ago this month I intubated, cannulated and defibbed him. With the help of some bystanders and very helpful police we got ROSC. An ambulance arrived and we took him to ED. In over 20 years of service he is probably my greatest achievement!”

Tony later posted: “Just popped down to Bath Ambulance station to meet my hero paramedic.”

He also said: “Having a cardiac arrest has helped me to put everything into perspective. You never know what could happen this afternoon or tomorrow.”

Trevor thanks the emergency team

Paramedics at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust are reminding members of the public to learn chest compressions so they are always ready to help do ‘bystander CPR’ if needed. Only 8% of the UK population will survive an ‘out of hospital’ cardiac arrest but the chances of survival increase hugely when people nearby step in and take action to help keep the patient alive.

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Trevor Filer, 72 from Chippenham, was a lucky man after he had a cardiac arrest at home last August. His wife Karen stepped in to start chest compressions until the paramedics arrived after being guided by the calm 999 emergency medical dispatcher (EMD). Karen was instructed to put her husband flat on the floor and start pumping his chest hard and fast with both hands.

The couple will get a chance to meet the emergency team who saved Trevor’s life on Tuesday 6 February and say thanks to the paramedics, both land and air ambulance who came to his rescue that day. A whole team of emergency services personnel came together to help get Trevor to hospital in time to receive his vital medical treatment, including Community First Responders and Fire Officers.

Trevor was taken by land ambulance to Bristol Royal Infirmary, the paramedic crew were assisted by the critical care team from Wiltshire Air Ambulance who had a Lucas device – a mechanical device which performs regular chest compressions on the patient.

Trevor said: “Karen saved my life with prompt CPR and I’m so grateful to everyone else who was involved in treating me.”

Karen said: “CPR training needs to be part of everyone’s education. I was just the first person in the team who saved Trevor.”

Trevor went on to spend five weeks in hospital recovering from his experience after complications with pneumonia. He is fit and well now and wants to help spread the message of the importance of bystander CPR and chest compressions so this can go on to help save more lives in the future.

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.