Welcome to SWASFT

999 Call Handler Sarah Up For National Award After Beach Rescue


A South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) 999 Call Handler has been shortlisted for a national award, after she helped to save a young man’s life.

Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD), Sarah Fisher, has been named as a finalist for the Control Room Call Taker of the Year at the APD Control Room Awards 2019.

It comes after she convinced a dog walker to do CPR on a lifeless body he had found on a beach. The patient survived, and made a fantastic recovery.

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, who works at the SWASFT Control Hub near Bristol and lives in the city, said the incident showed that people should “never give up” trying to help someone.

She said: “The call has always played on my mind.

“I didn’t know why the patient was there, how long he’d been there, or what had happened.

“The caller was convinced the young man was dead and beyond any help. But I really wanted to get him to do something for the patient. It was an amazing outcome.

“Being an EMD can be very challenging. We can only deal with the information we are given, and we don’t tend to know the outcome of calls. Sometimes we get shouted at and abused by callers. This one call restored my faith in what we do.

“I’m delighted to have been chosen as a finalist for a national award. It’s such an encouragement for all of us in the Control Room, and an inspiration to anyone never to give up trying to help someone. We really can save lives.”

Police initially told Sarah that a member of the public had found what appeared to be a dead body beside the Severn Estuary in January 2018.

She called the informant, Richard Gaman, back and asked him to return to the patient.

It soon became clear that the patient’s heart had stopped beating, he was not breathing, and he was extremely cold.

The situation appeared hopeless, but Sarah refused to give up on the patient.

She encouraged and supported Richard to do CPR for more than 20 minutes, as a multi-agency rescue operation began.  

Responders treated the patient at the scene, and then took him to hospital where he made remarkable progress.

The patient made a special visit to the Control Hub to meet and thank many of those involved in the rescue, including Sarah.

She received a letter of thanks from Chief Executive Ken Wenman for the way she handled the incident.

Her team leader, Michelle Charles, said: “Sarah is a truly dedicated professional who goes above and beyond to provide outstanding care for patients.

“Whatever the circumstances, Sarah treats patients and callers with respect and dignity, and is fully committed to improving lives.”

The Control Room Awards were launched in 2018 to celebrate the “unsung heroes” of the emergency services. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Nottingham on 7 March.


1. The photo shows Richard with Sarah during the meet-up with the patient at the Clinical Hub in October 2018.

2. Emergency Medical Dispatchers (999 Call Handlers) deal with emergency calls from the public and enable other staff to organise for help to get there as soon as possible. For information and to apply for the vacancies within the Trust, visit NHS Jobs.

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


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.