Welcome to SWASFT

July 2018

SWASFT wins national award for care in the local community


The Trust has won a national award for a new initiative to improve patient care in local communities.

SWASFT was given the Best Care of Older People accolade at the Health Service Journal’s 2018 Patient Safety Awards on Monday 9 July.

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The scheme involves Community First Responders (CFRs) across the region attending incidents in which patients have had a non-injury fall, but are unable to get up.

Responders can now assess and move patients from the floor to a sitting or standing position, using the lifting device and with support from clinicians in the 999 Control Hubs.

The initiative means more frontline resources, such as ambulances, are freed-up for higher priority calls.


Rich Buckley, SWASFT Acting Responder Manager, said: “This is a fantastic recognition of all the efforts of the whole project team. Moreover it is a wonderful acknowledgment of the hard work put in by all of our trained Responders. They give their time freely to support patients in their local communities in a robust and safe way. Without them this fantastic scheme could not work.

“The NHS is built on a spirit of giving to and going the extra mile for patients, and our Responders epitomise that spirit. In my 23 years of service, this award is one of the things I’m most proud of.”

According to clinical research, one in three people over the age of 65 who live at home fall during a 12-month period.

Non-injury falls patients had faced lengthy waits for ambulance services, because their call was not high priority compared to other patients in life threatening conditions.

The concept was developed in 2017 as a way to attend and assess these patients more quickly, developing the skills and experience of CFRs and with help from clinicians.


The Lifting Scheme Project Team are: Joseph Harvey (Clinical Hub Systems Support Officer), Katy Richards (Clinical Lead), Charlotte Thomas (Project Manager) and Rich Buckley (Responder Manager).

Nigel Toms, an experienced CFR, tested the concept by attending a selected number of appropriate incidents with a lifting device. He was able to manage the vast majority of the patients effectively, without needing any additional crew.

During a six-month trial involving more than 300 incidents, CFRS successfully assessed and lifted around three in four patients without the need for an ambulance to attend.

More than 60 CFR groups in the South West are now participating in this scheme.

The initiative provides numerous benefits including: an enhanced response to patients, increased skill set of responders, financial and time savings through more effective deployment of resources, and a vital proactive response to the ageing population.

CFRs are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents on behalf of SWASFT within their local communities. There are around 1,000 CFRs providing lifesaving support to patients across the region.

SWASFT covers one of the most rural areas of the UK, and is committed to providing the population of the South West with the highest standard of out-of-hospital care.

Keith thanks SWASFT lifesavers after cardiac arrest

Keith Richards1

A Cornwall guest house owner has thanked South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for saving his life when he had a cardiac arrest minutes after returning home from holiday.

Keith Richards, 64 from Penzance, collapsed in his bedroom on 9 March following a two-month cruise around South America.

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His heart stopped beating, and he had a minimal chance of survival.

But members of his family and SWASFT paramedics treated him quickly and effectively to save him.

At a special event in Penance Ambulance Station on Monday 16 July, Keith and his family were reunited with the team who rushed to his aid.

Keith said: “I am hugely thankful to everyone involved on that day for their prompt response, and more importantly their resolve in saving my life in a very frightening scenario.

“I have no recollection of what happened. But I gather everyone got on board, and it was all hands on deck.”

Keith said he cannot remember driving his family home from Southampton on the day of the incident. He managed to carry some travel cases upstairs, before losing consciousness.

He cut his head open in the resulting fall, which alerted his family to the emergency.

Lindsay, one of his daughters, said: “We heard a thud. So we rushed upstairs and found dad lying face down with blood everywhere.”

Louise, his other daughter, called 999 to get help. Hollie Eames, an Emergency Medical Dispatcher in the SWASFT Control Room assessed Keith’s condition and gave instructions to the family of how to do lifesaving CPR.

SWASFT Emergency Care Assistant (ECA) and Student Paramedic Grahame Barton, Paramedic Jonathan Thomas, and Student Paramedic Bradley Gwennap-Bawden all arrived at the scene within five minutes.

They were followed by Paramedic Jamie Harris, ECA Michael Howard, and Community First Responder, Chris Scrase.

The team provided lifesaving support, including seven shocks with a defibrillator, to get Keith’s heart beating again.

Keith was driven by ambulance to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Treliske where he was put into induced coma. After three weeks of care, he went back home and returned to work.

Keith said: “My recovery was so quick. Three weeks after having a cardiac arrest, I was serving breakfast to guests. It was crazy.

“I’ve had some down times since then, but I’m so grateful to still be here.”

Lindsay and Louise said: “We would like to express our pure gratitude to everyone involved in saving our dad on that fateful day.

“The lady who took our 999 call tried to keep us calm, which was nearly impossible, and the instructions she gave us contributed to saving his life. If the paramedics had not arrived so quickly or had not worked so tirelessly, our loved one would no longer be with us.

“The work you all do deserves so much praise and admiration. What is more important and heroic than helping to save lives? We would all be lost without the services you provide. 

“You’ve given us the greatest gift, and we will always remember what you did. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”

The family gave ‘thank you’ gift bags to each member of the crew and to EMD Hollie.

Keith Richards2

SWASFT ECA Grahame said: “Keith is a member of a very special club. Not many people survive a cardiac arrest. Fortunately he got the right treatment at the right time.”

Hollie added: “It makes my job feel so worthwhile knowing I have made a difference, and that thanks to everyone’s efforts Keith is still with us today.”

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body.

Some 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year.

Just 9% survive an out-of-hospital arrest, but their chances increase significantly when CPR is administered early.

A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available.

Keith Richards3

New SWASFT defibrillators to benefit community in Looe

Looe Defibs

Hundreds of lives could be saved in a local town, thanks to vital new South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) emergency medical equipment.

Some 14 new public access defibrillators are being installed this summer at key locations in the Looe area of Cornwall for use in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) incidents.

A project for new defibrillators was launched 12 months ago when SWASFT Assistant Community Responder (CFR) Officer for Cornwall, Stephen Matthews, discovered an existing device needed replacing.

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The initiative received overwhelming backing from local businesses and other organisations.

Stephen Matthews said: “Cardiac arrests do not only affect the elderly, but any age of the spectrum. High footfall areas with busy seasonal population also statistically have shown a marked increase due to the sudden influx of people.

“Statistics show that if you can get a defibrillator on a patient within four minutes they have a 70% chance of survival. But that goes down by 10% each minute afterwards.

“In an ideal world we would have defibrillators every 200 metres, so there would always be one near the casualty.”

Tina Hicks, Chief Executive of Looe Harbour Commissioners, who used to volunteer as a CFR, was a key initiator of the project.

She wrote to various groups asking for support, and said the response was humbling.

Looe Pioneers raised funds for two units (with the assistance of Looe Lions) which are being installed outside the RNLI Building on the seafront and Coastguard Station at Hannafore.

The new equipment was purchased by a variety of organisations, and a local electricals company agreed to install the units for free.

Tina said: “I am very proud to say that by working together, we as a town, will be installing 14 additional defibrillators over the next few months, over a much increased catchment area. This is fantastic news for locals and visitors alike.

“I have had personal experience of heart problems within my close family. I’ve used a defibrillator 'for real' whilst serving as a CFR, and also as a member of the public.

“I cannot find the words that would describe the importance of having this equipment available if it is needed.”

SWASFT runs defibrillator awareness sessions for people to learn how to use the devices.

The Mayor of Looe Mr Armand Toms said: “I would implore people to find the time to attend the awareness sessions. As a community, we need to overcome our fears and the misconception that by using these units, the operator can cause more damage to a patient than has already occurred. This is not the case.

“We all need to familiarize ourselves with this equipment, so that if the need arises we can do our best to save a life. It could be used to assist a total stranger or, a person that you love dearly. Most importantly, this equipment really can be the difference between life and death.”

Dave Bond Chairman of Looe Harbour Commissioners said: “We are pleased to support this project. We hope that by setting an example, other towns in Cornwall will follow our lead and work together to make their communities a safer place in which to live.”

An automated external defibrillator (AED) is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm. AEDs are used to treat SCAs in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating.

Some 30,000 people are treated for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year.

Just 9% survive an out-of-hospital arrest, but their chances increase significantly when CPR is administered early and a public access defibrillators is available

A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available.

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.