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999 Call Handler Olivia Wins National Award

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A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler has won a national honour for saving a police inspector when he became seriously ill.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) Olivia Molyneux won the Patient’s Choice accolade at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards, after she helped off-duty official Dave George.

Click here to listen to the 999 call made by Inspector George to Olivia.

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Olivia, who has worked at the SWASFT North Control Hub near Bristol since August 2017, said: “I was filled with happiness when I heard I had won the Patient’s Choice Award. Inspector George went above and beyond to show his gratitude to me, and I cannot thank him enough.

“I wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony, which I was so disappointed about. But my amazing colleagues accepted it on my behalf.

“This award deserves to be given to every member of the Control Room as we are all unsung heroes.”

Inspector George collapsed in hot weather last summer during a walk on the South West Coast Path between Penzance and Land’s End in Cornwall.

He experienced “crushing” chest pains and was struggling to breathe, but managed to call 999 to get help.

Olivia assessed his condition over the phone, and calmly reassured him until crews arrived at the remote location.

Inspector George was taken by ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with serious heat stroke. He made a full recovery.

Inspector George wrote a letter of thanks to SWASFT Chief Executive Ken Wenman, and visited the Control Hub to meet Olivia.

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

“Olivia 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.”

Paul Greatorex, Deputy Director of Operations at the North Control Hub, collected the award on behalf of Olivia who was away.

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He described the award was “a true testimony to Olivia’s professionalism”.

Paul said: “I am so proud of Olivia and all the EMDs who work so hard on behalf of the Trust, and battle through the adversity of responding to 999 calls to help patients.

“They are the front line of the ambulance service, before a dispatcher can dispatch, and before a crew can attend. It all starts with the EMDs. They can only act on what they are told, and they cannot pass judgement.

“Olivia along with her colleagues are so hard working, professional, caring, dedicated and empathetic to their callers. They are all unsung heroes.”

The Unsung Hero Awards honour non-clinical NHS staff and volunteers, and this year’s awards received hundreds of nominations.

The winners were announced at a ceremony in Manchester on 1 March.

Awards founder Don Tomlinson said: "We were able to honour some brilliant, inspiring members of NHS staff and volunteers for the amazing work they have done.

"Everyone who won an award - and all those shortlisted - show each and every day the qualities and excellence which make our Health Service the best in the world.”

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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.