Welcome to SWASFT

October 2017

Man saved after swallowing fish

When South Western Ambulance Service crews were called to Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth they had no idea what they would find when they got there. Their only information was that a man had started choking and had now stopped breathing.

With the first clinician on scene in less than two minutes, friends directed the crew along the dimly-lit pier, where another friend was already performing CPR, as directed by the calm emergency medical dispatcher on the line from the 999 control room.

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You can listen to audio from the 999 call here.

Initial assessment by Specialist Paramedic Matt Harrison confirmed that the patient was in a desperate situation, with a blocked airway and was now in cardiac arrest.  As the paramedics questioned the friends further, it appeared that the 28 year old had been joking around with a fish he had just caught. The patient had put the fish over his mouth but the fish wiggled free, promptly jumping straight down the patient’s throat causing a complete obstruction.

Martyn Box the Operations Officer who also attended the incident said “The boys were giving really good CPR on our arrival as instructed by the Control room staff. Initially we didn’t know the true extent of the situation or what the patient was choking on, but as we questioned them further we were told he had a whole fish stuck in his windpipe’.

As the patient’s heart had already stopped, we continued CPR and achieved the return of a pulse after about 3 minutes, and then transferred the patient quickly by stretcher to the ambulance.

Further assessment of the patients’ airway indicated that despite artificially ventilating him with a bag and mask, the patient’s chest remained silent, suggesting that there was total airway occlusion and despite best efforts he was not receiving any oxygen.

Matt Harrison said that re-assessment of the patient once in the ambulance indicated further deterioration and we once again began to lose cardiac output. ‘It was clear that we needed to get the fish out or this patient was not going to survive the short journey to Royal Bournemouth Hospital. I used a laryngoscope to fully extend the mouth and throat and saw what appeared like an altered colour of tissue in his throat. Using a McGills forceps I was able to eventually dislodge the tip of the tail and very carefully, so as not to break the tail off I tried to remove it - although the fish’s barbs and gills were getting stuck on the way back up. I was acutely aware that I only had one attempt at getting this right as if I lost grip or a piece broke off and it slid further out of sight then there was nothing more that we could have done to retrieve the obstruction.’

Eventually after six attempts the fish came out in one piece and to our amazement it was a whole Dover Sole, measuring approx. 14cm in length.

Matt Harrison said “I have never attended a more bizarre incident and don’t think I ever will – but we’re all so glad the patient has no lasting effects from his cardiac arrest, which could so easily have had such a tragic and devastating outcome’.

Upon arrival to Royal Bournemouth Hospital Emergency Department the patient had responded well enough to be able to answer a few basic questions, which was a huge relief and sense of achievement for us all.

This story just highlights how important it is for friends or bystanders to step in and start CPR when someone’s heart has stopped. Ahead of European ‘Restart a heart day’ 16 October, paramedics across South Western Ambulance service are urging everyone in the community to learn vital life-saving CPR skills.

Thousands of school children across the South West will be learning the life-saving techniques of how to give CPR from an army of SWASFT staff and First Responder volunteers who will be passing on their wisdom to support this year’s ‘Restart a Heart’ campaign.

Delivering the CPR training over the next week from Monday 9 October events will be running in the UK but also right across Europe in a big push for the European Restart a Heart Day on Monday 16 October 2017.
 
Demonstrations will be held in schools, community clubs, shopping centres and hospitals in a coordinated event that is anticipated to reach out to ten thousand people from the South West. The call, push and rescue techniques issues by the British Heart Foundation could literally save a friend, relative or loved one if the need ever did arise: https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/how-to-save-a-life/how-to-do-cpr/cpr-training-videos

13 October 2017


Who cares wins, best volunteer award nomination for SWASFT community first responder

CARDIAC arrests, patients with breathing difficulties and elderly fallers are just some of the hundreds of incidents Community First Responder Nigel Toms has attended on behalf of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).

Community First Responders attend emergencies within their local communities. Sometimes the difference is providing reassurance prior to the arrival of an ambulance, sometimes it is saving someone’s life.

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Nigel Toms imageCARDIAC arrests, patients with breathing difficulties and elderly fallers are just some of the hundreds of incidents Community First Responder Nigel Toms has attended on behalf of South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT).

Community First Responders attend emergencies within their local communities. Sometimes the difference is providing reassurance prior to the arrival of an ambulance, sometimes it is saving someone’s life.

Nigel has been a responder in and around the community of Modbury, Devon, for seven years and has now been nominated in the Best Volunteer category for The Suns Who Cares Wins awards.

The inaugural awards ceremony takes place on Wednesday, October 11, and is hosted by TVs Lorraine Kelly.

Nigel attends emergencies voluntarily and receives no financial reward. He has attended so many incidents that he can’t walk down the street without being stopped and thanked by a patient, friend, or relative of someone that he has treated.

Speaking about his role as a Community First Responder Nigel said: “When my pager goes off with a call, I’m off, whether dinner’s just been served or I’ve just sat down from coming in from another job – including on Christmas Day.

“I might be near retirement age, but I won’t be stopping any time soon.”

Rich Buckley, Lead Responder Officer with SWASFT, said: “Nigel has been instrumental in saving the lives of numerous patients including successfully helping to resuscitate an American tourist who had a cardiac arrest while cycling.

“Nigel is an incredible man who is very humble about his role. He is an asset to his community and to the ambulance service and is someone I am proud to work with.”

Along with attending various emergencies ahead of an ambulance arriving on scene Nigel is taking part in a trial where he attends cases where a patient has fallen in their home and is unable to get up by themselves.

Rich added: “Nigel will think nothing of travelling thirty miles to render assistance and help these patients safely mobilise. He then follows the appropriate safety netting procedure and hands over to a clinician on the telephone. In more than 80% of cases no further medical intervention is required and the patient is able to remain at home.

“In the years I have known Nigel has continued to impress me with his community spirit, positivity and skill. He gives so much of his time helping others and I would love to see this recognised by winning this award.”

11 October 2017


Cardiac arrest survivor reunited with paramedics

Enthusiastic swimmer Peter Marks, 75, from Penzance had finished toweling down after his usual morning swim when he suddenly keeled over and stopped breathing.

Having been busy with swimmers when he entered the sea near Battery Rocks that morning (9 July), the area was now deserted but, luckily for Peter, his long term swimming buddy Steve Pinfield was with him and had the presence of mind to act fast.

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Enthusiastic swimmer Peter Marks, 75, from Penzance had finished toweling down after his usual morning swim when he suddenly keeled over and stopped breathing.

Having been busy with swimmers when he entered the sea near Battery Rocks that morning (9 July), the area was now deserted but, luckily for Peter, his long term swimming buddy Steve Pinfield was with him and had the presence of mind to act fast.

Steve said: “Peter’s eyes suddenly rolled and fairly quickly he stopped breathing. I was in a dilemma as at that time of day on a Sunday there was no one about to help. I have first aid training and commenced CPR. I knew I would never give up Peter but I also knew he needed more help than I could give.”

Steve flagged down a passing motorist who called 999 while Steve commenced CPR.

Steve said: “When I saw the ambulance crews it was a great relief and I felt Peter was in extremely good hands. I thought he had very little chance of surviving but the expertise the crews have is amazing and when I heard the news he had made it, it was amazing and I was delighted for him and his family.”

Peter was treated by Jonathan Thomas, paramedic, Bradley Gwennap-Bowden, a student paramedic, John Benney, an emergency care assistant and Andrea Rigg a paramedic. The medical intervention of the air ambulance crews (who came by car due to bad weather) was also vital.

First paramedic on scene, Jonathan Thomas, said: “Peter’s friend had the most difficult job of us all. He had to commence CPR but seek help too and that is a tough call for anyone to make. He deserves the biggest praise of all and his efforts were vital in giving his friend the chance to recover.”

While CPR was underway Peter’s wife, Sandra, was alerted and made the one mile journey from their home to the scene. When she arrived the paramedics were attending to Peter and the signs were not good. Sandra, who has a nursing background knew the situation was dire but thanks to the efforts of Steve and the ambulance crews the critical situation had an positive outcome. Peter was taken to Treliske Hospital where he spent two weeks in hospital but has made a full recovery and has no recollection of his dramatic moments.

Peter said: “These people got me back to life. There is no doubt they all did an amazing job and they need so much recognition for what they did.”

A well known figure in the Penzance community Peter was the talk of the town for an afternoon but thankfully for him and his family the rumour mill was wrong that day. Sandra said: “The flags were flying at half mast for Peter at the Jubilee Pool but luckily when they heard he was alive the flags were back up!”

Peter, who usually swims outdoors each morning, suffered hypothermia and on admission to hospital had a dangerously low body temperature of 29 degrees. While he has not been swimming since he is now fit and well and enjoying lengthy walks with Steve each week.

Peter added: “I don’t recall any of it. It is a very weird feeling because I feel exactly the same as I did before this happened but I do feel guilty for what my friends and family had to go through.”

Sandra concluded: “We absolutely want to say a huge thank you to the people on the ground and the crew.  We hope that they can see the wonderful work they do can have such a fantastic outcome. Without the ambulance crew and Steve, Peter wouldn’t be here. We both want to extend our thanks to everyone in the NHS who have been brilliant – the emergency department who took Peter in and the critical care and coronary care units at Treliske. We have been told less than one on 10,000 people who experience what Peter did go on to make a full recovery like he has.”

05 October 2017


Ambulance service flag handed over to Quedgeley Community Centre

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is recognising the community in Quedgeley and is handing over a former Gloucestershire Ambulance Service flag to the local town council. The event will take place at 11am on Monday, October 9.

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South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is recognising the community in Quedgeley and is handing over a former Gloucestershire Ambulance Service flag to the local town council. The event will take place at 11am on Monday, October 9.

The tri-service centre, shared between the police, fire and former Gloucestershire Ambulance Service, became operational in 2003 with the three teams sharing joint controls.

When Gloucestershire Ambulance Service became Great Western Ambulance Service (GWAS) its headquarters moved to Chippenham, Wiltshire, and then in 2013 GWAS merged with South Western Ambulance Service. Its two main bases are now shared between Bristol and Exeter. However, a fleet operation still remains at the Quedgeley site.

The Gloucestershire Ambulance Service flag has been removed from its flagpole outside the tri-service centre, has been framed and will be hung on the wall at Quedgeley Community Centre in School Lane.

Councillor Graham Smith, Chairman of Quedgeley Town Council, will accept the flag on behalf of the town so that it can be put on display for years to come.

Ken Wenman, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said: “I am delighted to present this flag to the community in Quedgeley. This flag is a reminder of our shared history and is our thank you to the town for hosting the ambulance service in your community.”

05 October 2017

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.