Welcome to SWASFT

November 2018

4-Year-Old Girl Praised for 999 Call


Four-year-old Kaitlyn Wright has been commended for knowing exactly what to do in an emergency.

Her mum, Charlene, was having a fit, and she was the only person at home with her.

So Kaitlyn called 999 and gave the important details to South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) Call Handler Jess Hodkinson.

During the call on 27 October, Kaitlyn was able to tell Jess precisely what was wrong with Charlene. Kaitlyn made sure that her mum was still breathing, and she stayed on the phone to Jess until help arrived.

To listen to the incredible 999 call, click here.

Kaitlyn, Charlene, and dad Simon made a special visit to the SWASFT Control Centre near Bristol on Friday 30 November.

Kaitlyn was presented with a certificate on behalf of SWASFT Chief Executive Ken Wenman to congratulate her for showing extraordinary bravery, presence of mind, and wisdom beyond her years.

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Kaitlyn said: “I pressed 999, and said my mummy was having a fit.”

Paramedics went to the family home in Askerswell, Dorset and assessed Charlene.

Thankfully Charlene stopped fitting, and she didn’t need to go to hospital.

Jess, who works in the Control Centre as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher, said the incident highlighted how vital it is for parents to teach their children what to do in an emergency.

That includes showing the children how to call 999, making sure they know their address, and ensuring they are aware of any known health problems in the family.

Jess said: “Every call is different, and we are taught how to deal with child callers as part of our training. But it is unusual to receive a call from someone so young.

“Kaitlyn was very brave and informative. She obviously knew how to call 999; she told me exactly what was happening, and where she lives.

“She knew exactly what to do in an emergency.”

Charlene has fibromyalgia which means she is in constant pain and can have up to 40 seizures a week.

Charlene said: “I’m so proud of Kaitlyn. At the time I wasn’t really aware of what had happened. I woke up with the paramedics standing over me. I was so happy when I found out what she had done.

“We taught all our children how to make a 999 call, and what to say to the call handler. We got Kaitlyn a pretend Disney phone and practised with it.

“It can be scary when you’re not well. But Kaitlyn makes me feel safe. She’s a star.”

Simon added: “Kaitlyn is a grown-up little girl who knows exactly what to do in an emergency. She is brilliant.”

Charlene said the family had been “overwhelmed” by people’s interest in Kaitlyn’s call. She said they had been given cards, gifts, and kind words from many people.

During the call -

  • Kaitlyn says: “Mummy is having a fit. So I need to look after her.”
  • She says she is three years old. But, as she was born in June 2014, her age is actually four.
  • When asked how old her mum is, Kaitlyn appears to say Charlene is “40, like a parent”. Charlene’s actual age is 33.
  • Kaitlyn explains to Jess that her mum is breathing normally, with air going in and out of her mouth.
  • She informs Jess the family are going to have a Halloween Party, and she hopes her mum won’t be late for the party.
  • She also seems to tell Jess her kittens (not chickens) are having a race. She says the one with the blue collar is called Blue, and the one with the pink collar is Sookie.

Grandfather Saved by South Western Ambulance Service Volunteer


A Somerset grandfather has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer who saved his life when his heart stopped twice

Dave Reed, 65, from Wells in Somerset was relaxing at home on a hot summer’s afternoon when he experienced chest pains and breathing difficulties.

The retired prison officer thought he was having indigestion. But his wife, Jenny, decided to call 999 because she was concerned it might be something more serious.

To listen to the two 999 calls made by Jenny about Dave, click here and here. These recordings contain audio some people may find distressing.

SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) John Hill arrived within five minutes to give him routine treatment.

But then Dave’s heart stopped beating, and he lost consciousness.

John carried out CPR on Dave and used a defibrillator to get his heart restarted.

Then Dave went into cardiac arrest again. But with the help of paramedics John managed to resuscitate him for a second time.

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Dave was taken by land ambulance to Musgrove Park Hospital where he was given heart surgery.

He was able to go home just three days later, and has gone on to make a fantastic recovery.

Dave and Jenny personally thanked John when they met-up with him on Tuesday for the first time since the incident in July.

Dave said: “If it wasn’t for John, I wouldn’t be here. He is my superhero. He deserves a medal.

“I’m extremely grateful to him and everyone else in the ambulance service who was involved.

“The first thing I can remember is waking up in hospital afterwards. It’s been hard to get my head round what happened to me. But I’m grateful to be alive.”

John said: “He fell sideways and went bright purple. When I brought him back, he was very distressed.

“In 17 years of being a CFR, he is only the third person I have treated for a cardiac arrest who I know has survived. It’s one I won’t forget.”

Dave has purchased a SWASFT Public Access Defibrillator that will be installed in Wells for community use, because he knows how vital they are.

He added: “I hope the defibrillator will never be used. But if it is needed, it could help to save someone else’s life.

When Jenny called 999, SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Olivia Molyneux, assessed Dave’s condition over the phone. Meanwhile other staff in the Clinical Hub organised for crews to respond to the emergency.

Jenny said: “Dave hadn’t been very well for two hours. So I called 999 for peace-of-mind.

“I was terrified when he went into cardiac arrest. And even when I arrived at the hospital, I didn’t know if he was going to be alive or dead. But thankfully he’s still here. I’ve bought John a Christmas present to say thank you.”

A cardiac arrest is a time-critical, life-threatening event that occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body effectively.

Cody Worthington, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Bristol and Somerset, said: “The incident is a great example of how lives can be saved if the chain is survival is followed. That involves realising someone has stopped breathing, and calling 999. Then it is vital to begin CPR, and use a defibrillator if one is available. What our professional staff do is useless unless these basic steps are taken, and they are what save lives.

“It also highlights the benefit of having responders in the community. If John hadn’t been there, the patient may not have survived.”

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

CFRs are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents on behalf of SWASFT within their local communities. They respond to potential life threatening emergency calls where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate care. Their aim is to reach the patient in the vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives.

Some CFRs also attend 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 a specialist lifting device and with support from clinicians in the 999 Control Hubs.

Around 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year. Just 9% survive, but their chances increase significantly when CPR and defibrillation is administered early.

For more information about defibrillators and to register a device, please visit: https://www.swast.nhs.uk/welcome/defibrillator-scheme/defibrillators

Young Man Saved in Heroic Rescue


A young man was saved in an extraordinary rescue mission after being found practically dead on a beach.

David’s* lifeless body was discovered by dog walker, Richard Gaman, beside the Severn Estuary on a cold and windy January morning.

His heart had stopped beating; he was not breathing, and he was extremely cold.

David had tried to take his own life hours earlier, and he appeared beyond help.

But a heroic operation to save David was launched when South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 call handler, Sarah Fisher, persuaded Richard to perform CPR on him.

To listen to the call made by Police to SWASFT, click here. To listen to the call made by Sarah to Richard, click here. These recordings contain audio some people may find distressing.

Sarah said: “Richard was convinced the young man was dead and beyond any help. But I really wanted to get him to do something for the person.”

Richard said: “I didn’t think there was anything that could be done for him. But once I’d started CPR, I was determined to keep going.”

A large team of emergency services personnel joined Richard at the scene to provide advanced medical treatment. They took David to hospital in a critical condition.

SWASFT Operations Officer, Matt Morris, said: “The CPR from the bystander kept David alive until we arrived to provide advanced life support. CPR is an essential skill that everyone should learn.”

Despite having an exceptionally low chance of survival, David has gone on to make an astonishing recovery.

He said: “Thank you to everyone. It was almost certain that I was going to die, but I’m so grateful to have survived.”

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David is understood to have arrived at the remote location soon after 3am. He was found more than five hours later lying up against an embankment under a grey sky.

Richard said: “He was lying on his back with his arms folded, like he was trying to keep warm. Initially I thought he was a mannequin, but then I realised he was a real person.”

Sarah encouraged and supported Richard to do CPR for more than 20 minutes, providing a crucial step in the chain of survival as crews travelled to the scene.

Richard said: “It felt like a lifetime. But seeing him in hospital alive afterwards made it all worthwhile

The SWASFT responders’ team – comprising paramedic land crews, specialist Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) paramedics, and a Critical Care Team from Great Western Air Ambulance Charity (GWAAC) – provided advanced life support in a continued effort to resuscitate David.

They were supported by Avon and Somerset Police, Avon Fire and Rescue Service, and a Portishead Coastguard Search and Rescue Team.

The Critical Care Team measured his core body temperature as just 18.8C (65.8F), which was far below the temperature of 35C (95F) when hypothermia begins.

Although his prognosis was very poor, they knew that his temperature was just within the realms of reported cases of survival.

The Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) agreed to admit David. They put on standby a team of expert cardiothoracic doctors and surgeons, who specialise in operations on the heart, lungs and other chest organs.

Meanwhile paramedics used specialist equipment to move him around 500 metres from the beach to the waiting ambulance. Paramedics took it in turns to do CPR in the ambulance until they reached the BRI.

The cardiothoracic team were ready and waiting when David arrived. They took him from the Emergency Department to an Operating Theatre.

Doctors confirmed that the cardiac arrest had been caused by profound hypothermia. He also had a severe brain injury, due to lack of oxygen, and his lungs and kidneys were very badly damaged. He remained unconscious and unresponsive.

His family were told that he was unlikely to survive the evening.

However, David was put on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine, which took over the work of his failing heart and lungs. The machine is normally only used for patients undergoing heart operations.

David’s core body temperature began to improve, and incredibly his heart started beating again. Then his heart rhythm and blood pressure became stable, and he was able to be transferred to the general intensive care unit.

During the next few weeks, David was treated by a multi-disciplinary specialist team and made remarkable progress. From being in a deep coma and on the life support machine, he began to respond to his family and even started to walk again.

After seven weeks he was transferred to a brain rehabilitation centre, where he received physiotherapy to improve his sight and movement, and psychiatric care to help him adjust to day-to-day living.

David’s mum, Lisa*, said: “When the police knocked on the door, I assumed the worst. But so many people did exactly the right thing to help him to survive.”

Lisa expressed thanks to Police Sergeant, Andy Hucker, who was one of the first officers on scene and then supported the family throughout their time in Bristol.

She also praised Dr Sanjoy Shah, Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine, who led David’s medical team at the BRI.

David and Lisa made a special visit recently to the SWASFT Clinical Hub near Bristol to meet and thank many of those involved in the rescue operation.

SWASFT Learning and Development Officer, Jonathan White, said: “The patient was assumed dead by everyone, including myself and other medical experts on scene.

“The member of the public who did CPR showed great courage to do something to help the young man, even when he looked to all purposes beyond help.”

SWASFT Paramedic, Aimee Hearn, added: “Our effort could have been futile, but his core temperature and other aspects of his condition actually gave us hope.

“I’m amazed that the ‘dead body’ I saw on that bleak January morning is now a living person who is walking and talking.”

GWAAC Critical Care Doctor, Paddy Morgan, won a national award for his leadership and clinical skills at the scene of the incident. He said: “It is incredibly rare for a profoundly hypothermic patient in cardiac arrest to survive with such a good neurological outcome. But this case broke all the rules.”

Dr Shah said: “What has happened to David is fascinating from a medical and human point-of-view. He was practically dead for several hours, but he survived and has gone on to make an incredible recovery. It’s almost miraculous.”

Lisa added: “It is a miracle. He just wasn’t meant to die on that day.”

*Some names have been changed to protect those individuals.

For information and support regarding mental health, please contact:

Samaritans on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

Mind, the Mental Health Charity on 0300 123 3393, text 86463, or email info@mind.org.uk

Papyrus on 0800 068 4141, or text 0778 620 9697 or email pat@papyrus-uk.org

YoungMinds Parents' Helpline 0808 802 5544

NHS help for suicidal thoughts If your life is in danger, call 999 for an ambulance.

About cardiac arrests:

  1. A cardiac arrest is a time-critical, life-threatening event that occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body effectively.
  2. Some 30,000 people are treated for cardiac arrests in the UK every year. Just 9% survive, but their chances increase significantly when CPR and defibrillation is administered early.
  3. If you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest: call 999 immediately, begin CPR, and use a public access defibrillator if one is available.

Three Ambulance Services Form Alliance

Three ambulance services have announced plans to form an alliance to improve efficiency and benefit patient care.

Between them, South Western, South East Coast and West Midlands Ambulance Service handle more than 2.5 million 999 calls every year. The three Trusts plan to form an alliance that will see them working even more closely together to deliver efficiency savings to invest in front line services.

The alliance expects to deliver savings through initiatives such as the joint procurement of supplies, including equipment and fuel. In addition, the three will work collaboratively to share best practice across the area for the benefit of patients and staff. They will also work on improving resilience between the organisations for planned events and major incidents.

The work will draw upon existing benchmarking and evidence from the National Audit Office investigation into ambulance services, and more recently, the report from Lord Carter into efficiency and productivity.

There are no plans to merge services or restructure existing operations, but the changes mean that the three Trusts can make every pound of taxpayers’ money work as efficiently as possible.

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Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT), said: “I am really excited by this new alliance. There are significant benefits for both our people and our patients from the three services working more closely together. It will allow us to reduce duplication and learn from best practice which will save money and ultimately improve the care we provide for our patients.”

Daren Mochrie, Chief Executive of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) said: “This is the right thing to do for our patients and our staff. By forming this partnership, we will be able to bring together the knowledge and experience of three Trusts to explore ways to reduce variation in some areas and develop new joint initiatives that will untimely enhance the quality of the care for our patients.”

Anthony Marsh, Chief Executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) added: “I can see real improvements in the way we work coming from the development of our relationships between organisations. In particular I can see how we will improve the resilience of our Services which can only benefit staff and patients alike.”

The decision to move towards an alliance was agreed on Tuesday (20th November) by the Chief Executives and Chairs of the three Trusts and follows the recommendations of the Carter Report, which described ambulance services working in an alliance to deliver efficiency savings and improved productivity.

SWASFT Chairman, Tony Fox, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to capitalise on the best the three ambulance services has to offer, use the significant purchasing power we collectively have and learn from the experience and share best practice between alliance partners to improve the quality of the service to our patients here in the South West.”

SECAmb Chairman, David Astley, said: “I am confident that, by working closely in partnership with our colleagues from SWAST and WMAS, we will all be able to benefit from sharing best practice and making efficiencies through joint procurement to drive real improvements for our staff and our patients.”

WMAS Chairman, Sir Graham Meldrum, said: “There are clear advantages of the three organisations working together which can only benefit staff and the public we serve. This alliance will allow us to improve the care we provide to patients whilst supporting our staff who work incredibly hard every day.”


  • SWAST: Covers 10,000 square miles (20% of mainland England) with a population of 5.5m. The Trust receives on average 3,200 calls per day.
  • SECAmb: Covers 3,600 square miles and a population of 4.8 million. On average they receive 2,500 calls per day. 
  • WMAS: Covers 5,000 square miles with a population of 5.6 million. The Trust receives on average 4,000 calls per day.
  • The three services have a joint income of over £700 million, which means greater economies of scale for procurement.

Staff Awards Celebrate Success

Staff Awards Mike Merrett 2

The heroic and tireless efforts of staff and volunteers to deliver outstanding patient care have been recognised at a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust’s (SWASFT) awards ceremony.

The annual staff awards acknowledge those who have gone above and beyond expectations, and the dedicated service of long-standing members of staff.

Around 200 SWASFT staff and volunteers, and members of the public, who played vital roles in responding to emergency situations, came together for the event near Bristol on Friday 16 November.

SWASFT Chief Executive, Ken Wenman, said: “3,000 times a day, within the largest ambulance service in England, our people are saving lives, reducing peoples’ suffering and pain, and dealing with the social and mental health needs of our communities. I am personally thankful to them all.”

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Among those staff who accepted awards were Stroud Paramedic Mike Merrett for 50 years’ dedicated service and Trowbridge Paramedic Steve Arnold for 40 years’ devoted service.

SWASFT Chairman, Tony Fox, said: “We are saying a huge and much-deserved thank you to staff and volunteers for their commitment, dedication and professionalism throughout the year.

“I continue to be overwhelmed by the level of care and compassion given to patients and their families often at times of great distress.”

Kevin Steele, 67, from Bournemouth, gave a speech thanking SWASFT staff and members of the public for saving his life when he had a cardiac arrest while driving.

He said: “I would be dead without the actions of everyone involved. Thank you so much. You’re all superheroes.”

He will mark the anniversary of the incident in November 2017 by hosting CPR training at his home.

Best friends Owen Bailey and Owen Paulley, aged 13, were commended for helping a mum when her ten-month-old baby girl was swept into the sea at Weymouth.

The best friends, with the assistance of another passer-by, aided the mum after she dived into the water at the harbour to rescue her infant.

The duo, who had been fishing when the incident happened in August, used their rods to retrieve the mum’s possessions from the sea.

The mum and baby were taken to hospital as a precaution, but the mum only sustained minor injuries and the baby was unharmed.

Owen Paulley said: “I heard a splash and turned round, and the mum was in the water. We ran over to help and stayed with her until the paramedics arrived.”

Owen Bailey’s mum, Katy, said: “They didn’t realise they were doing anything special. They just did it. And they didn’t even mention it when they got home.”

Lee Tapper and off-duty firefighter Simon Green were also recognised for their heroic efforts when they were the first people on the scene of two separate emergencies in Pewsey, Wiltshire.

Another SWASFT awards event will take place at St Mellion, East Cornwall on Thursday 29 November.

Ambulance Team honoured at Macmillan Awards

A team of ambulance clinicians from the south west has been honoured for their innovative work in cancer care. The Macmillan Cancer Care Development team at the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) won the Innovation Excellence Team award at the prestigious 2018 Macmillan Cancer Support Excellence Awards, held at The Birmingham Hilton Metropole Hotel on Thursday 8 November. Awards host, multi-award-winning journalist and broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, presented project manager Joanne Stonehouse with the award. (See image).

As the Innovation Excellence award-winning team, they were considered to have demonstrated vision and commitment to make a lasting difference to the quality of services offered to people living with cancer.

The project has focussed on improving and promoting best practice in cancer, palliative and end of life care for patients living with cancer across the south west of England who access urgent and emergency care by calling 999.

As well as creating a broad education package for paramedics, the project team of four has also developed and improved systems and protocols to give ambulance clinicians access to specialist advice and guidance whilst they are on scene. Ultimately, this ensures cancer patients receive the right care in the right place at the right time.

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“What paramedics within SWASFT now have are options,’ says Lynn Dunne, one of the project’s three cancer care development facilitators. ‘They know who to phone, they know what their resources are both in hours and during the out-of-hours periods, and they didn’t have access to these things before. It doesn’t mean that we don’t take patients to hospital, it means that when appropriate we can treat people at home or facilitate a referral to a more appropriate health setting.”

“It’s been great for the patients and great for their relatives, but it’s also been great for the paramedics too,’ says Paramedic Joanne Stonehouse, the Macmillan cancer care project manager. “They now feel confident in these situations and knowing that they’re able to do the right thing gives them increased job satisfaction.”

The team has also received interest from other ambulances services across the UK and beyond, keen to learn from their experience.

Ed Murphy, Macmillan’s Head of Services for the South West said “Congratulations to the Macmillan Cancer Care Development Project team at South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust on winning the prestigious Macmillan Innovation Excellence Award. This pioneering project has provided much needed education and training to enable paramedics to give the best and most appropriate care to people with cancer. I am delighted that their hard work has been recognised by this award.”

The Macmillan Excellence Awards, which are now in their seventh year, were developed to celebrate the outstanding work carried out by Macmillan health and social care professionals across the country. The event recognised excellence in three areas: service improvement, innovation and integration.

Over 350 health and social care professionals and guests attended the awards ceremony.

For support, information or if you have any questions, call Macmillan Cancer Support free on 0808 808 00 00 (Monday to Friday, 9am–8pm) or visit macmillan.org.uk.

Image: Victoria Derbyshire, the team and Grainne Kavanagh, Head of Specialist Advisory and panel member

M5 Baby Mum Thanks Crews

A mum from Gloucestershire has been reunited with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) team who helped deliver her baby beside the M5.

Leanne Parrett, 31, from Yate was on her way to Gloucester Royal hospital with husband Sam to have her baby when she went into the final stages of labour announcing she had the urge to push.  

Sam pulled over in a lay by and called 999 when he realised that Leanne was about to give birth in the back seat of their car.

With only the 999 control hub on the line for guidance baby Sebastien arrived moments later, a healthy baby boy weighing 8lb 12oz.

Leanne said: “I was squatting in the back seat and I just needed to push, and within two pushes he was out and Sam grabbed him, and then he (the baby) started to cry.”

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Charles Passmore, Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) for SWASFT took Sam’s 999 call. “The call came to me and it was clear from the start this was going to be an emergency birth as they were still on the motorway.

“Pregnancy incidents are one of the most unpredictable calls we face as EMDs, as there are multiple scenarios that could change at any time so I knew I had to be fully focused.

“After I gathered the basic information about the scene and the patient details, the baby had already started to show, so time was of the essence. I began giving the instructions to the father to get the mother into the correct position, and to get some towels and other equipment ready for the baby’s delivery

“The baby was delivered in a short amount of time and after making sure that his airways were clear and that he was breathing effectively, it was then my job to make sure the new-born was warm enough. Then the priority was to check on the mother and make sure she was okay and not deteriorating in any way.”

Leanne said: “The call handler was amazing and stayed on the phone with Sam the whole time (approx. 20/25 minutes) until the ambulance arrived. They made sure Sam knew what to do immediately following the arrival of Sebastian!”

The first SWASFT paramedic on scene was Scott King who got there on his motorbike. Soon after an ambulance arrived with Paramedic, Amy Johnson and Emergency Care Assistant, Lloyd Easton arrived on scene.

Leanne said: “Scott was first to arrive on the bike and offered me gas and air as I was still in pain. He put a hat and nappy on Sebastian and checked he was okay.”

“Then Amy and Lloyd arrived in the ambulance and Sam got to cut the cord and we went to hospital.

“I am so so thankful for everything the NHS has to offer and these wonderful people made a scary and stressful situation so calm and memorable.”

Charles, EMD, added: “This was a brilliant call to be a part of and a wonderful moment that I will never forget and I wish them all the best of luck.”

Lloyd, Emergency Care Assistant, said: “This was one of the best jobs I have ever been to. Although it was an incredibly stressful situation for Leanne and Sam to find themselves in, it had the best outcome anyone could have hoped for – a beautiful healthy baby being brought into the world.”

“As a family they can cherish that terrifying but incredible hour of their lives forever and I’m so glad we were able to be a part of it to make sure they were all safe and well.”

Over the past 12 months ambulance teams have helped approximately 300 babies to be born in emergency births across the South West.

On Thursday 8 November Leanne and her family were reunited with the SWASFT team who helped with the delivery of her baby boy in North Bristol. 

To listen to the 999 dramatic call, click here

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.