Welcome to SWASFT

October 2018

Lifesaving Responders Win Heart Award

Heart Safe Award 2018

A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) team have won a national accolade for saving lives and creating heart safe environments across the region.

The SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) team were given the Public Services Award at the 2018 Heart Safe Awards on Friday 26 October.

The award recognises organisations, including local authorities and emergency services, who have invested in lifesaving equipment and staff training to provide heart safe environments for their employees and the public.

A hearts safe environment is one where life-saving equipment, such as a defibrillator, and training are provided for staff or customers so that, should a sudden cardiac arrest occur, people are fully prepared to perform resuscitation and additional life support immediately.

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Kevin Dickens, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Gloucestershire, said: “To win this award is a huge credit to our team, our volunteers, and the people who we’ve engaged with to create cardiac safe environments across the South West by raising awareness of basic life support and defibrillator stations.”

Rob Horton, SWASFT Responder Manager, said: "This is fantastic recognition for the team and the Trust. It reflects the commitment of the individuals in the team and their passion for what they do empowering the community in a safe and supportive way. I am immeasurably proud for the team to be recognised under this national spotlight."

Judges said they were impressed by the way the team managed its governance of the defibrillator scheme, which offers advice and support to many organisations and communities who wish to purchase or have purchased the device.

They also praised the accreditation scheme, which provides support by offering weekly and monthly reporting to ensure all Automated External Defibrillators are rescue-ready when needed. 

The also picked-up on their tri-service work in Cornwall, which is a collaboration between the police, fire and ambulance in response to emergency incidents.

Police Inspector Thanks 999 Call Handler

A Metropolitan Police Inspector has thanked a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 call handler for saving him when he became seriously ill, alone on an isolated footpath.

Inspector Dave George collapsed in hot weather on the South West Coast Path between Penzance and Land’s End in Cornwall during a solo training exercise for a charity walk.

The 43-year-old experienced “crushing” chest pains and was struggling to breathe after walking for several hours in the heat.

Inspector George, who was off-duty at the time of the incident in August, feared the worst, but managed to call 999 to get help.

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SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Olivia Molyneux, assessed his condition and stayed on the phone to him while crews travelled to the remote location.

Inspector George made a special visit to the SWASFT North Clinical Hub near Bristol on Wednesday (31 October) to thank Olivia in person.

“I thought that was it,” he said. “I was on my own, and needed help. It was a desperate situation. The response from everyone was amazing.”

“I wanted to thank Olivia personally, because call handlers don’t tend to get the recognition they deserve.”

Inspector George also sent a letter of thanks to SWASFT Chief Executive, Ken Wenman. He said: “The call handler was totally exceptional. She dealt with a very difficult and challenging call in the most superb way.

“The kindness and calm professionalism that she showed deserves special praise. I don’t think I could have got through that hour alone without her staying on the line and talking to me.”

Inspector George was later diagnosed with serious heat stroke. He has since made a full recovery.

The following symptoms are associated with heat stroke: not sweating when excessively hot; rapid or shortness of breath; loss of consciousness, unresponsive.

If you suspect someone has heat stroke, call 999 and ask for an ambulance.

To listen to the 999 call made by Inspector George to Olivia Molyneux, click here.

To read the letter from Inspector George to SWASFT, click here.

Sincere Thanks and Professional Feedback


This is a letter of sincere thanks and praise for a female member of your control room staff and ambulance teams who without question acted so superbly well.

On Saturday 4th of August I went walking along the South West Coastal Path. It was a training walk for a charity event (Land’s End to John O’Groats which I’m walking next year). I set off from Penzance with an aim to walk to Land’s End. I was carrying a heavy rucksack as I intended to spend 4/5 nights out walking around the peninsula to Newquay. Stupidly I overloaded my pack and was carrying near on 50kg! That day was immensely hot and sunny and as mid-afternoon rolled around the temperatures were up at 31c. The path itself was beautiful walking, but I fear to say I totally underestimated the difficulty of the path and the strenuous nature of the ascents and descents.

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Suffice to say that by mid-afternoon I started to suffer the effects of fatigue and felt very ill. I’m an experienced mountain walker (despite my misjudgements in this case) and new that I was in difficulty. At about 3pm I had collapsed to the side of the path, had incredible crushing chest pains and palpitations. My pulse which I managed to take was low and really pounding. I also noted in my haze that I’d stopped sweating. I knew I was in a predicament and feared I was having an angina or heart attack such was the chest pains. I don’t mind also admitting I was scared – miles from anywhere on a remote piece of coastline.

As you can imagine in my job I have called on the ambulance service many thousands of times having been a police officer in London for 20 years, but I have NEVER called on an ambulance for myself.

The call handler was totally EXCEPTIONAL. And now I felt I had to write to you to praise her professionalism and actions. She dealt with a very difficult and challenging call in the most superb way, and I believe her actions are worthy of some form of commendation. I certainly would be very happy to personally thank her for the way she managed that call and stayed on the line with me whilst your units tried to find me on that remote coast line.

In essence – due to my fatigue and chest pain and shortness of breath I was disorientated and it was very challenging to locate where I was. I believe it took about 45 mins -1 hour to even find me. Eventually we identified a lighthouse (Tater-du Lighthouse) which we used as a reference point. The Cornwall air ambulance arrived on scene, along with coast guard vehicles and a regular ambulance. The staff arriving were also amazing, polite, reassuring, and very very kind. Despite being unwell- I felt incredibly embarrassed and apologetic –realising that it was my stupidity that had in part caused the incident! They were so reassuring.

Sir- I just wanted to highlight ALL the staff from your service that came to help me on that day. They were ALL superb. I got to thank the officers that arrived on the scene personally. However the kindness and calm professionalism of the female control room operator who took the call deserves special praise. I don’t think I could have got through that hour alone without her staying on the line and talking to me. She did this despite how busy your control room must be. I never got to thank her for what she did and I’d like her to know that I will never forget her kindness. She deserves recognition for her superb actions during a very challenging call.

Best regards and thanks again for what your officers do.

Dave George

Inspector Dave George

To read our story about the incident click here

Emergency Services Unit to Tackle #Unacceptable Assaults on Staff

Unacceptable group photo

Emergency services from across the south west are working together to highlight the unacceptable trend in the number of assaults on their staff whilst on duty, by launching a new campaign #Unacceptable.

As well as fellow blue light services, the campaign is being supported by Exeter City Football Club and the Exeter Chiefs who are encouraging the public to get behind the initiative by showing their support on social media.

Police, ambulance, fire and healthcare staff are regularly subjected to attacks including serious injury, verbal abuse, spitting and biting, and even sexual assault from those they are trying to help.

Over the last 12 months South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust (SWASFT) staff reported 1,049 incidents relating to violence and aggression with an increase of 97 reports for the same period in 2016/17. Bournemouth NHS saw 236 assaults during this time. Sadly, however, it is thought that these figures do not represent the entirety of assaults, as many are never reported by the victims.

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Based on previous twelve-month figures, by the end of this year, over 1,400 police officers from Devon & Cornwall Police, Dorset Police and Avon & Somerset Police would have been assaulted while carrying out duties to keep the peace within their local communities (491 in Devon & Cornwall Police; 214 in Dorset Police; and 701 in Avon & Somerset Police).

Ken Wenman, of Chief Executive SWASFT, said: “Like all our emergency services colleagues, our crews and control staff work in extremely difficult circumstances and are often under threat of attack or abuse. This is totally unacceptable and we will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that our staff are protected and those responsible for such attacks are prosecuted.

“We are very proud to be part of this important campaign and hope that together we can make a significant impact in reducing the number of assaults on our staff so that they can continue to provide an excellent service to the public without fear of attack or abuse.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Davies on behalf of Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police said: “Our officers and staff, along with other emergency services colleagues, demonstrate commitment, courage and dedication on a daily basis. They signed up to helping and protecting the public, not coming into work each day with the risk of being assaulted. The impact this can have on them, their colleagues and their families can have lasting effects long after physical scars have healed.

“Together, the emergency services want to ensure our personnel can deliver the best possible service to our communities; but in order to do this we need injury-free and healthy work forces. We will not tolerate assaults on our emergency services and will seek to bring criminal proceedings against offenders. I welcome the new law to double the maximum sentence from six months to 12 months for assaulting an emergency services worker.”

Emergency services personnel from across the region have been sharing their experiences in a video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwi0QE3agzE

Campaign goal – #Goal999

The goal of the campaign is to keep emergency services personnel safe by raising public awareness and reducing the number of assaults while on duty.

In support of this, and with the backing of the Exeter Chiefs and Exeter City Football Club, the #Goal999 social media challenge encourages supporters and members of the public to post photographs or videos of their most creative goal, using the hashtags #Goal999 and #Unacceptable. When they post their entry, they can nominate friends and family to share their goals too.

Goals don’t have to be sport-based, they can include anything positive; whether that be climbing a mountain, painting a landscape or growing vegetables. The winner of the ‘most creative’ goal could scoop an early Christmas present in the form of a signed shirt by the Exeter Chiefs or Exeter City Football Club.

Please get involved and show your support by posting your photos or videos to Twitter with the hashtag #Unacceptable or on the Facebook page UnacceptableNotPartOfTheJob. Full details are given on www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/unacceptable or www.dorset.police.uk/unacceptable. Also featured are videos of case studies from the police and other agencies.

Julian Tagg, Chairman of Exeter City Football Club, said: “Exeter City Football Club and CITY Community Trust are proud to stand alongside all emergency services, across the south west, in their aim to reduce the number of assaults against our emergency services. We are incredibly reliant on the emergency services and the role they play in making match days at St James Park a safe and secure place. Only recently we have seen incredible and efficient work carried out on a match day after a supporter was sadly taken ill during the game.

“It is sad to see that abuse to our emergency services has risen in recent years, which is why we at Exeter City and CITY Community Trust are backing the #Unacceptable campaign.

“It is important that, alongside the Exeter Chiefs, we stand united in support of emergency services and remind everyone that they are here to aid us in a variety of ways. We hope that this campaign will raise awareness of the excellent work that the police, fire and rescue, ambulance and the health service do, and ensure that they are treated with respect when going about their duties.”

Tony Rowe OBE, Chairman and Chief Executive of Exeter Chiefs Rugby, said: “Every day our emergency services put themselves at the forefront of so much for our local communities. However, what is not acceptable is for those service personnel to then be submitted to assault or abuse whilst carrying out their duties.

“As a club we are fully support of the #Unacceptable campaign, which we believe will not only bring these issues into the minds of the public, but will help to make a real difference to those who continue to serve us so well.”

Man, 102, Rescued After Three Days On Roof

A 102-year-old man was rescued by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) crews after spending three nights on the roof of his house.

The man was found on 24 October lying face down on a garden rake above the property in Bigbury-on-Sea, Devon.

A friend called 999 after they saw three unopened milk bottles outside the house and then discovered him. He had a bucket of tools next to him.

Paramedics managed to bring him down, with assistance from the fire service, before he was transported by Devon Air Ambulance to Derriford Hospital.

SWASFT Community First Responder, Nigel Toms, said: “The man was actually lying in a gulley between his house and garage. So he was in a bit of a pickle. But I reached him fairly easily, and got a response.

“Then we worked together to extricate him from the roof. It was a good team effort.

“His life was definitely at risk. So he’s a very fortunate man.”

To read the BBC News version of the story and listen to the 999 call, click here.

The man passed away in hospital on 2 November.

Restart a Heart Day: The Butcher Who Saved My Life

Mike Kinger

Paramedics from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) are reminding people of the importance of stepping in and helping when someone’s heart has stopped. SWASFT has been working alongside the British Heart Foundation on 'Restart a Heart' day to raise awareness of the importance of early intervention.

Marilyn Smith from Cornwall was one such lucky patient who received that vital treatment when her heart stopped suddenly.

Marilyn said: “It came completely out of the blue. I’d been feeling fine and I’d even taken the dogs out for a three mile walk that day, when I went up to my bathroom and just suddenly collapsed.”

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Marilyn’s husband called 999 and their local SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR), Mike Kinger, the local butcher, was sent out to give Marilyn the life-saving defibrillator shock that got her heart beating again.

Mike Kinger has been a volunteer CFR for 12 years and attends emergency calls in his area of Cornwall in the vital minutes before an ambulance arrives. Last year Mike spent 7,520 hours as a CFR – which is equal to 313 days of his time to helping others and saving lives.

Mike was recently a shortlisted finalist at a prestigious awards ceremony in London attended by the Prime Minister Theresa May for the ‘Who Care Wins Awards’ recognising NHS staff and their hard work.

Marilyn said; “I would not be here if it weren’t for Mike saving me.”

Her husband Mal said: “I was in such a panic but he was so calm. By the time the ambulance arrived he’d got her heart going again. He doesn’t just deserve an award, but a knighthood.”

Marilyn was taken onto Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, where doctors found a blockage in one of her coronary arteries and she was fitted with a stent.

Volunteers like Mike Kinger, who have been trained to attend life-threatening emergencies are crucial in rural areas. Mike said: “I’m on call most of the time. I just enjoy helping people and working alongside the professionals in the ambulance service, it is all one team effort.”

There are around 1,000 CFRs providing lifesaving support to patients across the region. CFRs are trained volunteers who attend emergency incidents on behalf of SWASFT within their local communities. They respond to particular types of 999 calls 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.

Ambulance Service to Teach the Public CPR as Part of Restart a Heart Day

Restart a Heart 2018

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is participating in Restart a Heart Day by teaching members of the public how to do CPR in Princesshay Shopping Centre in Exeter on 16th October 2018 (CPR is cardiopulmonary resuscitation which is emergency first aid for someone having a cardiac arrest.)

SWASFT has been working alongside the British Heart Foundation on 'Restart a Heart' day. This is an annual national campaign dedicated to teaching members of the public CPR and raising awareness of the importance of early intervention. The main purpose of the day will be to give people the confidence to perform CPR and defibrillation.

All members of the press are invited to join the event and brush up on their first aid skills at the same time.

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81 percent of people surveyed in the South West said they would be reluctant to perform CPR on cardiac arrest patients, according to latest statistics from the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

The main reasons for their reluctance to step in were fear of causing more harm than good (46 percent) and lacking the skills and knowledge to perform CPR (39 percent). But experts state that the benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risks, as survival rates are almost zero if people collapse and get no support until the emergency services arrive.

There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK and devastatingly less than 1 in 10 patients survive. But according to the BHF, if survival rates matched those reported in Norway, where CPR is taught more widely, as many as 5,000 lives could be saved.

SWASFT, Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, British Red Cross, British Heart Foundation (BHF) and all the UK NHS ambulance services along with Fire & Rescue services are working together to train more than 150,000 young people across the UK in the largest ever CPR training event of its kind.

Neil Le Chevalier, Director of Operational Services for SWASFT, said: “I am delighted that the Trust continues to support this national initiative, last year teaching on the same day across the region, over 7500 members of the public, most of which were school children.”

“Early recognition and making the 999 call is as essential to then commencing CPR on someone who is unconscious and not breathing normally.”

“We have events planned with schools and businesses across the region today and throughout this week to raise awareness and teach lifesaving skills. The event at Princesshay Shopping Centre is a fantastic opportunity to give all members of the community an opportunity to learn.”

Salisbury 999 Emergency Services Day

Accident &Emergency image

Paramedics and ambulance crews from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) will be holding a ‘999 Emergency Services Day’ in the centre of Salisbury (Guildhall Square on Saturday 13 October from 9am-4pm) bringing together partners from Wiltshire Police and Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

They are encouraging members of the public from the Wiltshire area to come down on market day and chat to crews about their high pressured emergency jobs and how they go about treating patients in the community.

Since the Salisbury and Amesbury incidents the city has had a spotlight over it with an ongoing investigation and the world’s press camping out. Now SWASFT paramedic teams are giving people the chance to come and ask questions and get advice on all subjects including mental health, CPR skills sessions, health check-ups and general first aid.  

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Lead Paramedic Ian Parsons, said: “This should be a fantastic family orientated time with plenty of hands-on opportunities for those that want to see our emergency vehicles and equipment we use, all guided by our frontline ambulance staff.”

Vehicles on display will include frontline ambulances, rapid-response vehicles, the motorcycle response unit and Hazardous Area Response Team. Some of our volunteer community first responders will also be on-hand to talk about their role within SWASFT.

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.