Ambulance Service Institute Awards 2015
The Ambulance Service Institute Award Ceremony for 2015 was held in the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace of the House of Lords on 25th June. The ASI President, Dr Peter Griffin, welcomed the Award winners, their guests and the Award Sponsors to the House of Lords. He told the audience that the ASI Awards had started at the Ambulance Service Conference and Exhibition (AMBEX) at Harrogate several years ago and this was now the fifth occasion that it had been held at the House of Lords. Also, although she had been unwell and unable to attend last year, our normal host, Baroness Angela Browning would be presenting the Awards again this year. After going through the usual domestic announcements, proceedings advanced directly to the Awards Presentations.
The first award was the Innovation Award, which was presented to the West Midlands Mental Health Response Unit. This was a pilot scheme that brought together Ambulance paramedics, Mental Health nurses, police officers and social workers with the aim of reducing the number of people with mental health problems ending up in police custody.
About 20% of demand for police services is due to people with mental health problems. Historically, these people have been let down by a system where the agencies concerned have not worked together. This scheme resulted in a cultural shift to a much more collaborative approach with all the agencies working closely together. As a result there was a huge decrease in the number of people with mental health problems ending up in police custody, or even A & E departments, as they were more appropriately referred on by the pilot team.
On behalf of the team, the Awards were received by Robert Cole, Head of Clinical Practice and Consultant Paramedic for Vulnerable Persons, West Midlands Ambulance Service and Chief Inspector Sean Russell of West Midlands Police.
The second award was the Control Room Award, which was presented to Heather Wilson of East of England Ambulance Service. Heather has only been with EEAS for a little over two years, but has rapidly progressed from call-handler to dispatcher and then to Dispatch Team Leader due to her passion for the role and her commitment to improving the quality and service provided to patients. She has been responsible for delivering a professional update training programme, business continuity planning and has been pivotal in re-designing the dispatcher training and mentoring package which is much more patient and performance focussed. She has received many accolades not only from within the team but from members of the public as well and is held in high regard by her peers, superiors and subordinates.
Unfortunately, Heather had a family bereavement just before the Awards Ceremony and was not able to come to receive her Award, so Gary Morgan, Regional Head of Emergency Operations Centres at the East of England Ambulance Service accepted the Award on her behalf.
The third award was the First Aid/Community First Responder Award, which was presented to The Rossendale Community First Responder Group from North West Ambulance Service. Brian Pickup and Dawn Taylor organise the Rossendale CFR group, which is a very active team operating within the Lancashire area of the North West Ambulance Service. Both are active CFRs and have attended many incidents over the years including many cardiac arrests. They both work tirelessly with local businesses and public /private organisations to raise awareness of heart disease and the importance of community public access defibrillators (AEDs).
They have trained many thousands of people in simple life saving skills such as basic life support. Through their leadership the Rossendale Group has become very successful and the Trust uses this model for new and established teams to learn and develop from. Between them they have raised considerable funds to ensure that their local area is covered with community public access defibrillators and worked alongside the Trust to install them in the most effective places.
As well as being a long-serving member of staff, he supports the service in his own time as a CFR working with St John Ambulance in north-west Essex. He has not had a single day off sick in 32 years of service. Clive is a great role model to others and a great support to all new staff in his care. He is always very modest but if you were to cut him in half he would read ambulance service through the middle.
and the second commendation was to Steve “Forrest” Harris of West Midlands Ambulance Service. Steve joined the ambulance service in 1978 and has worked an impressive 18 years as a motorcycle paramedic, eight of those years as one of Channel Five TVs “Emergency Bikers”. Over the years, Steve has provided excellent patient care to many of thousands of people in Birmingham City Centre and beyond. His TV appearances have raised awareness of the need for effective emergency services and equipment and advanced public education regarding safety, health and the emergency services, one of the primary aims of the ASI. The fifth award was the Patient Transport Service Award, which was presented to Stephen Dines and Justine Newton of East of England Ambulance Service. They were on route to St Bartholomew’s Hospital with a patient when they came across a serious traffic incident. A lorry had collided with a man who had fallen into its path The man was still trapped under the vehicle. They crawled under the lorry to attend to the injured man, who was conscious at the time. They stayed with the injured man until the paramedics and doctors arrived who performed emergency open heart surgery at the scene, but, unfortunately, the patient died. This was an unusual and difficult incident for a patient transport service crew to be first on scene at such a serious incident, but they showed professionalism and remained calm, reassuring the patient until further help arrived. They would have been a great comfort to the injured man at this very difficult time.
The sixth award was the Front Line Ambulance Award, which was presented to Neil Ashmore and Sarah Lawrence of West Midlands Ambulance Service. In August 2014, ambulance technicians Neil Ashmore and Sarah Lawrence responded to a serious building fire in Tipton, West Midlands. They were first on scene and were immediately faced with a second floor apartment well ablaze. The fire stated in a bedroom and the two occupants managed to leap from a second floor window. Neil and Sarah started treating both patients where they had landed following their exit from the burning building. With the fire still raging above their heads, both Neil and Sarah continued to treat the patients at great risk to themselves. They treated a man with lower leg injuries and the female suffering smoke inhalation. It was only when the windows blew out of the building under great pressure from the intense heat that the crew were forced to carry the patients to an area of safety before continuing to treat their injuries. The Crew were joined by emergency service colleagues at the scene and the patients were eventually taken to a local hospital for further treatment and assessment. Neil and Sarah acted above and beyond the call of duty at great personal risk to care for two patients injured as a result of this severe fire.
The seventh award was the Air Ambulance Award, which was presented to Sgt David Currie of C Flight, Search and Rescue 22 Squadron, RAF Valley. In June 2014, Sgt Currie, as the winchman for Rescue 122, the Valley based Sea King responded to assist a severely injured man who had fallen 200 feet into a quarry in the vicinity of Horseshoe Pass, Wrexham. Due to the nature of the quarry, this required use of almost all of the available 245 feet of winch cable. After completing a rapid primary survey, Sgt Currie identified a number of potentially catastrophic injuries including bi-lateral open femoral fractures, a disrupted pelvis, potential abdominal bleed and pneumothorax. The man was very close to arresting, so Sgt Currie had to ignore normal protocols in favour of speed of extraction. While in the helicopter on the way to hospital, Sgt Currie had to utilise advanced skills including bilateral chest drainage, intra-osseous infusion and immediate life support until the patient could be handed over to the hospital resuscitation team. The attending local ambulance service paramedic that Sgt Currie thoughtfully took with him to authorise use of these advanced procedures was most certainly out of his comfort zone.
The eighth award was the Special Incident Award, which was presented to Louise Smith and Joanne Taylor of East Midlands Ambulance Service. This Award was sponsored by W H Bence (Coachworks) Ltd, who build specialist vehicles for medical and emergency services use as well as vehicle logistics, maintenance and repair, and they were represented by Oliver Brown who is the Sales Director.
Louise and Joanne were travelling in an ambulance with a patient and relative on route to Chesterfield Royal Hospital when a car coming the opposite way aquaplaned and spun directly into their path. They could not avoid the car despite swerving. During the collision Louise Smith, the Paramedic was thrown around the saloon and sustained injuries to her head while Technician Joanne Taylor managed to keep control of the vehicle despite the airbag going off in her face, and brought the vehicle to a safe standstill. Joanne sustained a number of burns to her arms. As soon as they had safely stopped, in spite of their own injuries, the first priority for Louise and Joanne was the patient and relative on board and the occupants of the car they had collided with. There was concern that the ambulance was going to catch fire as there was smoke coming from under the bonnet, so Joanne removed the patient from the vehicle with all the necessary equipment to treat them, along with oxygen cylinders to minimise the risk to all in the vicinity in case the vehicle did catch fire.
Louise treated the casualties from the car, including a full resuscitation attempt, and ensured that they were handed over to the support crews as they arrived. Unfortunately the man and boy who had been in the car died as a result of their injuries despite the best efforts of Louise and Joanne and the crews who backed them up. Louise and Joanne both had significant injuries – Louise had a large haematoma to her forehead and two black eyes, Joanne had burns to both arms. During the inquest the Stockport Coroner acknowledged the actions of the crew and thought their conduct was exceptional and they were a credit to the ambulance service
The ninth award was the Paramedic/Emergency Care Practitioner Award, which was presented to Alex Watts of East of England Ambulance Service. This award was sponsored by Intersurgical UK, who are manufacturers and providers of the most comprehensive range of respiratory products offering customers quality, innovation and choice. Intersurgical UK was represented by Mark Ellis, who is the UK Sales and Marketing Manager.
On the evening of the 7th December Alex was called to a multiple fatality RTC on the Colchester Rd at Gosfield. Two cars collided head on at high speed, became embedded in each other and caught fire. There were five people trapped between the two cars. Alex was first on scene arriving within a matter of minutes. He put out an initial situation report stating the gravity of the situation and then set about rescuing the occupants, despite the developing fire.
He arranged for a van with a tow rope to pull the two cars apart so as to minimise the fire risk and then along with two members of the public rescued the three trapped from the car on fire. This was carried out less than a minute before the car was totally engulfed in flames. Alex then set about triaging the casualties and directed the first fire resource to one of the most seriously injured as he set about dealing with another critically injured patient. He updated the control room as to the ambulance resources required. Alex’s actions in the initial scene management, placing himself at risk to organise and effect a rescue of at least three patients undoubtedly saved lives.
The tenth award was the Military Award, which was presented to Sgt Simeon Tomlinson of 4626 Air Evacuation Squadron at Brize Norton. This Award was sponsored by the International Institute for Risk and Safety Management which is a professional membership body that provides recognition, information, support and enhancement for health and safety professionals and specialist members related to the health and safety field. IIRSM was represented by Phillip Pearson, the Chief Executive and Siobhan Donnelly, the Deputy President of Council.
As a flight paramedic with the Royal Air Force (RAF) Medical Services, Sgt Simeon Tomlinson is at the forefront of his peer group for his wealth of experience, his exceptional clinical ability, his team spirit and his ability to inspire others. A member of the RAF Medical Reserves, he also holds a full time civilian post with the East of England Ambulance Service, where he is a highly valued critical care and air ambulance paramedic. As member of No. 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron for six years, Sgt Tomlinson is the only reserve paramedic to have undertaken three deployments as part of the rotary Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) in support of Operation Herrick, Afghanistan. He has deployed during periods of intense combat, with the highest rates of trauma casualties, working long hours in extreme temperatures, within aircraft that regularly came under enemy fire, and, despite this, he consistently earned exemplary reports from his commanding officers.
On one tour alone, alongside his MERT colleagues, Sgt Tomlinson treated 262 casualties including 33 amputees (two thirds of whom had lost two or more limbs). 49 of the team’s patients required Rapid Sequence Induction (RSI) en route to Camp Bastion, and many required the initiation of massive transfusion protocols. The team had five taskings of five or more casualties, requiring Sgt Tomlinson to look after critically ill and/or ventilated patients alone. With more than a tenth of casualties being critically injured Afghan children, Sgt Tomlinson could also be relied upon to gain vital intravenous access in situations where other paramedics would not have succeeded.
With dual responsibilities within the RAF Medical Services and National Health Service, Sgt Tomlinson has been able to carry much of the learning from the leading edge military trauma system to the civilian environment, supporting his ambulance trust as trauma protocols are developed. Each of his civilian paramedic colleagues generally only encounters major trauma two or three times a year: his experience, knowledge and skill has been used to excellent effect to support the development of his colleagues on both ground and air based assets. He has also championed the provision of welfare and support to colleagues, through the introduction of the Trauma Risk Management (TRiM) system, which is designed to identify personnel at risk of psychological problems after traumatic incidents.
The final (eleventh) award was a President’s Special Award, which was presented to Billy McPhail and Gareth Acres. This Award was sponsored by Gennaro and Luca Venditto who are the proprietors of several family friendly restaurants, including Simply Italian and the Italian Way, serving authentic Italian food in Kent and Sussex.
On 28th May 2014 Strood Railway Station, Billy McPhail saw a lady fall on to the railway line with the train approaching the platform. Mr McPhail was on the opposite platform 200 yards away and he saw the lady fall down in between the tracks and then heard the train horn coming. He jumped down and ran across the track – only just being missed by a train coming from the other direction. He saw that her ankle was bent the wrong way, and knew she was hurt and he couldn’t move her on his own. So he called to another guy (Gareth Acres) to help. Gary also jumped down onto the tracks while other people ran along the platform to try and flag down the train. Billy and Gareth between them managed to get the woman on to the platform and climb to safety themselves. Luckily, the train managed to stop a few yards away from them at the end of the platform.
Unfortunately, Gareth Acres was unable to attend, but in his place to accept the Award on his behalf was Barbara Smith, who is the woman who was saved! She was accompanied by her husband, Derek, who, in honour of the occasion, wore a suit for the first time since his wedding more than 35 years ago.
After the presentation of the last award, Baroness Browning gave a short address. She commented on how nice it was to hear the accounts and meet the individuals and teams that have performed over and above their duty. What a privilege it is for all of us to hear these wonderful accounts of the bravery, professionalism and dedication of the people who received their awards today and of course the people in the teams they work with. She said that she felt humbled to be in the company of so many brave and exceptional people.
After the address, ASI Immediate Past President, John Newman, presented Baroness Browning with a basket of flowers
After the formal proceedings were completed there was still time for some networking and some informal photographs on the terrace with the Thames and London Eye as a backdrop.
The Ambulance Service Institute would like to thank the photographer (Brian Aldrich) and the London Ambulance Service Ceremonial Squad (Andrew Beasley, Jason Hallihan and Andrew Whatling) and, of course, Baroness Browning.