Welcome to SWASFT

September 2018

My partner saved my life

Michael and Eileen

A Bristol grandfather has thanked his partner and the team from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) for saving his life when he had a cardiac arrest.

Michael Morris, 73, lost consciousness on his partner’s living room sofa and stopped breathing normally. He began making a snoring noise and his skin colour turned blue.

Eileen called 999 to get help, and then gave vital chest compressions to keep Michael alive.

Paramedics arrived within three minutes to resuscitate Michael and take him to hospital.

Michael has gone on to make a fantastic recovery following the incident on May 24. He and Eileen thanked SWASFT for the way the call was handled and the care they were given.

They made a special visit to SWASFT headquarters in Exeter recently to meet staff and share their recollections of what happened.

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Michael, a former recycling company director, said: “I went to sleep and woke up five days later in hospital. There was no warning and no pain. I just went to sleep.

“I owe this lady my life. Without her actions, I wouldn’t be here today. All I can say is thank you to everyone.”

SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Charlie Passmore, who handled the 999 call, instructed Eileen how to do lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on Michael.

SWASFT Dispatcher, Samuel Young, ensured appropriate resources were sent to the scene.

SWASFT Paramedics Carolyn Hillier and Joe Jessup; Emergency Care Assistant Sian Preston; Critical Care Paramedic Vicki Brown; Lead Paramedic Jack Kilminster, and Paramedic Officer Rhys Hancock all attended the incident.

Together they managed to resuscitate Michael and provided further treatment for him. Then he was transported by land ambulance to Bristol Royal Infirmary.

Eileen said: “The call handler was great. He gave me faith that I could do what I was supposed to do. The ambulance crew were amazing. They were very well coordinated, so everyone seemed to know what they were doing. Although they were busy caring for Michael, they told me everything that they were doing and looked after me as well. And the hospital staff were fantastic too. We couldn’t have asked for better service.”

Michael underwent heart surgery, but was in hospital for just eight days before he was able to return home.

Rhys Hancock, SWASFT Clinical Lead, said: “This incident highlights how we really can save lives together. It demonstrates how anyone can make a difference if the chain of survival is followed. In this case there was an early recognition of the problem, and a 999 call for help. The patient was given fantastic CPR, early defibrillation, and post-resuscitation care. And he’s now well enough to share his story for the benefit of others.

“It was a really positive experience to hear Michael and his partner talk about what happened, and of the fantastic recovery he’s made.”

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

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.

Dr Andy Smith, SWASFT Executive Medical Director, said: “It’s always a nightmare scenario when someone collapses. But we believe that everyone can make a difference, and together we can save lives.”

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

Listen to the 999 call here

CQC rate South Western Ambulance Service's care as OUTSTANDING

CQC release pic

England’s independent regulator of health care services the Care Quality Commission (CQC), has rated South Western Ambulance Service (NHS) Foundation Trust (SWASFT) as ‘Good’ in their latest inspection and ‘Outstanding’ for being ‘Caring’.

The Trust was pleased to welcome a team of CQC inspectors into the Trust sites across the region during their inspection of the quality of care the Trust provides.

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The 999 Control hub teams have retained the rating of ‘Good’ for the way in which the ‘high quality team of staff’ within the hub manage and respond to emergency situations. The 999 Control hub have also retained an ‘Outstanding’ for caring.  

The report also gives the ambulance service an ‘Outstanding’ rating for ‘Caring’ overall in recognition of the care and compassion that staff demonstrate every day when treating patients, and a rating of ‘Good’ for being ‘Effective’ and ‘Responsive’ to people’s needs. The Trust also received a rating of ‘Good’ for ‘Well Led’ with the report recognising the ‘strength of the vision and values of the organisation and the effectiveness of the Trust’s leadership’

The Chief Executive of South Western Ambulance Service, Ken Wenman, said; “The Trust has made significant improvements across all departments in order to reach this new rating of ‘good’ for the quality of service it delivers to patients across the South West. I am delighted that our ambulance crews and staff have been recognised for their continued hard work, professionalism and compassion.”

“This report also recognises the long standing focus the Trust has had in reducing unnecessary admissions to hospital Emergency Departments, which is a much better experience for patients and a significant reduction in costs for the health system in the South West.”

Tony Fox, Chairman of South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT), said: “This is a great result and we are pleased to see the progress made since the last inspection has been recognised. I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone working in the Trust for the caring, compassionate job they do day in day out treating patients in our communities.”

The CQC Chief Inspector of Hospitals, Professor Ted Baker, said: “South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has achieved a lot in the last two years. I am pleased to see that the team has implemented a number of changes since our last inspection in 2016 while still managing to retain an ‘Outstanding’ rating for caring for a second time. However, there is still more work to be done in ensuring a culture of safety exists across the whole of the trust and patients are reached on time.

“We found that the senior leadership team had the ability to ensure improvements could be delivered and to address any risks to performance. We also recognised the board had reorganised the leadership and structure in frontline services but this change was relatively new and needed time to embed.

The report also highlights that SWASFT has no barriers to clinical innovation and development and that the high quality leadership team who manage frontline services in emergency and urgent care do their jobs effectively and support staff with the Staying Well Service. It also says SWASFT is good at engaging with local partners in order to improve and coordinate services.

The full report including the latest ratings are available at: https://www.cqc.org.uk/location/RYF45

South Western Ambulance Service welcomes the Carter Report

Following the publication of the Lord Carter Report our chief executive Ken Wenman has welcomed its findings and has praised staff from across the Trust.

Ken said: "We welcome Lord Carter’s report today on the productivity of Ambulance Trusts in England. As the best performing Ambulance Trust in the UK for not taking patients to hospital, South Western Ambulance Service (SWASFT) continues to treat a high number of patients on scene or at home, with only at 52% of patients being taken onto hospital Emergency Departments for further treatment.

"This is a much better experience for patients and saves the health system as a whole across the South West millions of pounds each year. For this calendar year that’s over 1,000 patients a day who did not need to go to hospital.

"The report also mentions how ambulance services need to move to the use of electronic systems - our crews across the South West already use a digital method called an Electronic Patient Care Record (EPCR) throughout the region which is a fully linked to the patient’s own NHS records and improves clinical decisions on scene.”

You can read the full report here: https://improvement.nhs.uk/documents/3271/Operational_productivity_and_performance_NHS_Ambulance_Trusts_final.pdf

Denis meets lifesaving team

Denis meets team 2

A Somerset grandfather has thanked a South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) paramedic team who saved his life when he had a cardiac arrest.

Denis Ward, 68, was walking his dog with his wife, Yvonne, on the Quantock Hills in October 2017 when he collapsed suddenly and stopped breathing.

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Three bystanders took crucial action to keep him alive – by calling 999, and doing chest compressions for almost half an hour.

SWASFT crews managed to restart Denis’ heart, and he since made a fantastic recovery.

The former Royal Air Force Flight Sergeant and his family made a special appearance at Taunton Ambulance Station’s Open Day recently to thank the crews in person.

Denis said: “I can’t thank everyone enough for what they did for me. No words can express how grateful we are.”

SWASFT Emergency Medical Dispatcher, Adam Greaves, who handled the 999 call, ensured the crews were able to find the remote location.

SWASFT Paramedics Jenna Mackay, George Lowe and Trudy Wood; Operations Officer, Richard Cockin, Doctor Ed Ford, and a Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance crew all attended the incident.

The crews provided further life support, including defibrillation, to get Denis’ heart beating again. He was taken from the woods to a car park via a SWASFT four-wheel drive vehicle. Then he was transported by land ambulance to Taunton’s Musgrove Park Hospital where he was admitted to the intensive care unit.

Denis was put into an induced coma for 24 hours, and remained in hospital for two weeks. He was then transferred to Bristol for heart surgery, and is now living a normal life.

Yvonne said: “It all happened very quickly. Denis collapsed beside me, and I shouted for help. We’re so thankful to the three people who did CPR for 26 minutes. And without the ambulance crews it would have been a different outcome. 

“Even when they got Denis to hospital, it was always going to be touch and go. I was preparing myself for the worst. But he’s done marvellously well to recover.

“It’s been an emotional journey. But we’re trying to move forward, and take every day as it comes.” 

Richard Cockin, West Somerset Operations Officer, said: “The main message to take away from cardiac arrest incidents like these is that good early CPR together with early defibrillation is what saves lives, and promotes the best possible recovery.

“The NHS team, from the call taker to the cardiac surgeon, has worked together effectively to promote the best possible outcome for Denis and his family.”

Denis meets team 1

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

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

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

Wiltshire employer recognised for supporting Community First Responder

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) is delighted to recognise Wheeler’s (Westbury) Ltd for supporting an employee to volunteer as a Community First Responder and respond to medical emergencies whilst at work.

Stewart Ackland works as an IT Manager for Wheeler’s (Westbury) Ltd and has for 16 years. He has also been a Community First Responder for South Western Ambulance Service since March 2015.

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Community First Responders (CFRs) are volunteers who support their local community by attending emergency calls ahead of the arrival of an ambulance. Every-day, Responders from across the South West 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.

Over the past year, Stewart has responded to nearly 300 emergency 999 calls, the majority of these calls he attended during work hours.

Stewart said: “I’ve been called out to every sort of job you can imagine, from cardiac arrests to broken limbs. I also have a raizer lifting chair, so when a patient has fallen and can’t get up, but hasn’t injured themselves, I am able to lift the patient and often prevent the need for an ambulance.”

Kieron Borgeat, Managing Director of Wheeler’s (Westbury) Ltd, has been incredibly generous with allowing Stewart so much flexibility at work.

Kieron said: “To make this work, trust and flexibility on both sides is the key. Stewart is given the authority to manage his availability, logging on and off as necessary to strike the right balance between his day to day responsibilities for Wheeler’s and our significant support for the Community First Responders.”

David Wilmot, SWASFT Community First Responder Officer for Wiltshire said: “Some employers make a real contribution to the safety and resilience of their local communities by allowing Community First Responders to respond from work. Such flexibility at work makes a real difference and helps to save lives.”

Mike retires from the ambulance service after almost 50-years

Mike Berridge retirement

After more than 44-years with South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) a Plymouth man is stepping down from saving lives to enjoy his retirement.

On February 22 1974 Mike Berridge joined what was then known as the Plymouth Corporation Ambulance Service. He had a two week induction before heading out on the road to help the people of Plymouth and the wider south west.

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Mike said: “I was 23-years old and had just been made redundant. One day I was walking down Greenbank Hill towards Mutley Plain and I stopped outside Greenbank Ambulance Station. I looked in the parking bays and there was all the ambulance vehicles and I thought to myself that I would like to have a job on the ambulances.”

Mike progressed through the ranks from a Miller Trained ambulance man, technician, advanced technician and ending his career as an Ambulance Practitioner.

Throughout his years of service Mike has dealt with all kinds of incidents and he says ambulance staff in the UK are some the best trained and most professional in the world.

He said: “I think I have dealt with every situation going. Murders, road accidents and also many happy times such as delivering babies. I think the UK has the best trained ambulance staff in the world. The people in the service are very professional. We have to recognise many different situations and adjust to each case that we are dealing with.”

Away from his heroics on the road Mike was also on hand to help countless members of staff as he stood as a Union representative for more than 30-years.

“I think I can say that the 44-years I have spent in the service have been the best years of my life. I used to look forward to going to work and I have worked with many special people. I have worked in many aspects of the service and I can say to anyone thinking of joining the ambulance service to go for it.”

Young mum thanks lifesaving ambulance team

Jennifer Bowerman

A grateful young mum from South Devon has met up to thank the ambulance team from South Western Ambulance Service who came to her rescue and introduced them to her new baby. 

Jennifer Bowerman from Brixham experienced severe complications in July, when at 35 weeks pregnant she collapsed as the result of losing too much blood. Jennifer knew something was very wrong and managed to call 999 whilst drifting in and out of consciousness. The ambulance teams responded quickly and were able to treat her and get her to Torbay hospital in time for the baby to be saved.

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Now fully recovered from her trauma, Jennifer has met up with the crew in Torbay and taken them presents to thank them for their efforts and introduce them to her little miracle baby, Frederick. 

Jennifer said: “Their fast response and quick thinking actions that afternoon resulted in the safe delivery of my baby at 35 weeks pregnant.  I suffered a catastrophic four litre blood loss, I didn’t think the baby would make it and woke up four hours later not sure what had happened. I wanted to thank them in person and show them my little miracle, who I’m certain is only alive today thanks to this team.”

The happy reunion took place on Tuesday 4 September 2018 at Torquay Ambulance Station with the paramedics, BASICs Doctor and 999 Control call handler who took the 999 call.

Paramedic Paul Hodge who was first on scene, said; “When I arrived on scene Jennifer was in a bad way, she had collapsed from so much blood loss, she was very weak and lethargic,  very low blood pressure and had life threatening complications.  We gave her fluids and took her onto Torbay Hospital but we really didn’t know if either the mother or baby would survive.  It is always great to get such positive feedback after attending such an incident and we are all thrilled to meet Jennifer and her new baby and see them looking so well.”

The 999 Control room emergency call handler Scott Cartlidge was also able to meet up with the family and see the result of a call that could have ended so differently.  

The 999 emergency team members who attended the reunion were:

  • Emergency Medical Dispatcher/Call handler - Scott Cartlidge
  • GP/Doctor Dr Alexander Rowe, BASICS Doctor
  • Paramedics - Aaron Bushnell and Paul Hodge

(Also attended the incident but unable to meet up with the family - Paramedic - Steve Stone, Ambulance technician Anton Rundle)

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.