NIAS welcomes EU investment of €1.1 million in Community Paramedic Services

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland to benefit from Community Paramedic services to enable care to be provided closer to a patient’s home 

This week has seen the formal launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded cross border Community Paramedic Project. Tony O’ Brien, Director General of the Republic of Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE), was joined by representatives from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the HSE’s National Ambulance Service at the launch in Dublin.

This new collaboration between the three national ambulance services has been warmly welcomed and has resulted in the establishment of Community Paramedic services in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Community Paramedics associated with this project are undergoing specialised training accredited by Glasgow Caledonian University. The project has recently commenced and is enabling Community Paramedics to provide safe and effective care to patients in their own homes and communities and is already reducing unnecessary ambulance transports to emergency departments.

Pictured (from left to right) are: Bridget Clarke and Louise Potts, Cross Border CAWT Acute Project; Brian McNeill, Director of Operations, NI Ambulance Service; Bernie McCrory, Chief Officer, CAWT cross border health; Martin Dunne, Director, National Ambulance Service (Rep of Ireland); Wendy Quinn, Head of Service, Scottish Ambulance Service; Sean Murphy, General Manager, Letterkenny University Hospital and Michael Rooney, HSE.

The Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) Health and Social Care Partnership in collaboration with the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and the National Ambulance Service in the Republic of Ireland developed the Community Paramedic Project bid for EU INTERREG VA funding which was successful in securing €1.1 million for an 18 month period.

The Project will target specific patient populations in remote and rural areas / border areas of the three regions. The four pilot localities which have been identified for this scheme include Castlederg, Co Tyrone in Northern Ireland; Buncrana, Co. Donegal and Clones, Co. Monaghan in the border region of the Republic of Ireland; and the Argyle & Bute region in SW Scotland.

In addition to providing Community Paramedic training to eligible individuals, the EU funding is being used to invest in new rapid response vehicles for the pilot areas in the three ambulance regions. These vehicles are fitted out specifically to provide care to patients in their homes or their community. This means that, within the pilot areas, more patients can be treated at home instead of having to be transported by ambulance to hospital emergency departments.

Commenting on this initiative, Michael Bloomfield, Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said: “At a time when Health and Social Care is experiencing unprecedented demand which manifests itself in extreme pressure in Emergency Departments, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is delighted to be participating in this initiative enabling Paramedics to work closely with other healthcare professionals within rural and border area communities. The greatest benefits will be felt by patients themselves who will receive the appropriate assessment and treatment in their homes, if admission to hospital is not the deemed appropriate. NIAS welcomes the introduction of this enhanced Paramedic role as it offers an excellent opportunity for career progression for staff.”

Community Paramedics participants from the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, the Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service who are undergoing specialist training as part of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project. In the vehicle (left to right): Mark Sheerin, Community Paramedic, Buncrana Primary Care Centre and Damian Muldoon, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre. Standing at the front (left to right): Anne McDermott, Community Paramedic, Buncrana Primary Care Centre; Brendan Finan, Community Paramedic, Clones GP Practice and Declan Smith, Community Paramedic, Clones GP Practice. Standing at the back (left to right): Caroline French, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre and Scott Ramsey, Community Paramedic, Scottish Ambulance Service.

Speaking at the launch event in Dublin, Tony O’Brien, Director General of the HSE welcomed this new initiative, which allows Paramedics to broaden the routine healthcare services they provide and will help to improve rural urgent medical services. He said: “Emergency Care pressures are a constant challenge for all health systems in Europe. This innovative project, enabled by EU funding and collaboration with other member states, is a good example of how we can ensure patients receive the right care in the right place while also easing some of the pressures on our Hospital Emergency Departments.  I have no doubt that it will be successful and that we will be rolling it out across Ireland as a key part of our Urgent and Emergency Care system in the coming years.”

Welcoming the project Gina McIntyre, CEO of the Special EU Programmes Body said: “The EU’s INTERREG VA Programme provides funding to organisations that can implement joint cross-border solutions to issues that affect citizens living in the border region. This project, involving ambulance services working together, will enhance the health and social care of citizens living in more rural and isolated areas and will enable the transition from tra

ditional institution-based service provision to a more community-based approach.”

The launch was attended by project participants and stakeholders from all three regions.

Match-funding for the project has been provided by both Departments of Health in Ireland and Northern Ireland and by the Scottish Government.

NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) Community Paramedics at the launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project involving the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service. Pictured are Damian Muldoon and Caroline French, Community Paramedics from Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co. Tyrone.
NI Ambulance Service (NIAS) representatives at the launch of the €1.1 million EU INTERREG VA funded CAWT cross border Community Paramedic Project involving the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and the Republic of Ireland’s National Ambulance Service. Pictured (from left to right): Caroline French, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co.Tyrone; Brian McNeill, Director of Operations, NIAS; Laura Coulter, Area Manager, Altnagelvin Ambulance Station, NIAS; Frank Orr, Assistant Director, NIAS and Damian Muldoon, Community Paramedic, Castlederg Primary Care Centre, Co.Tyrone.

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Crew Assaulted by Patient on 999 Call

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service responded to a medical emergency in Larne on the evening of Tuesday 28 November 2017.

On arrival, the crew were confronted by a patient who proceeded to kick a crew member.

Following this assault, the crew continued to transport the patient to hospital for further treatment. En route to the hospital, the patient continuously behaved in an aggressive manner, including verbal and physical assaults on staff and attempting to damage lifesaving equipment.

PSNI were called and arrived at the scene to arrest the patient for assault, attempted criminal damage and disorderly behaviour.

This was the crew’s first call of the night, and they continued to work the remainder of their shift despite this violent incident. In contrast, the last call of their shift was to a 4 month old baby who had to be rushed to hospital. If this crew had been unable to carry on with their shift due to the earlier assault, it may have delayed the baby receiving help and getting to hospital for further treatment.

Attacks on our crews continue at a rate of more than 8 a week. This situation is totally unacceptable. We have previously talked about the impact that these attacks have on the communities we serve in terms of crews being stood down mid-shift. We have talked about the potential for the loss of life as a result of reduced cover following these assaults. While this potential still exists we are even more concerned about the impact of such assaults on the health and well-being of our staff.

These assaults are not something which our crews are able to forget about within minutes. We have evidence to show how the impact can be felt years later and the event relived at any moment in time.

NIAS will continue to call for the full rigour of the law to be applied in instances where evidence against an assailant is clear and indisputable. We are heartened at some of the recent sentences that have been passed and hope that those who find themselves before the court on such charges will face the real prospect of custodial sentences.

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Ambulance crew threatened with imitation firearm

A male has been arrested and charged after threatening an ambulance crew with, what turned out to be, an imitation firearm on Thursday 16 November.

The crew was responding to reports of a sudden death in the Montgomery Road area of East Belfast at 8 pm. However when the crew arrived at the scene they discovered that the call was, in fact, a bogus one. They were met by a male person and after a short time found a female in another room. The male then left the premises and returned a short time later, brandishing the imitation firearm in a threatening manner towards the crew.

One crew member was able to disarm the male and called for assistance from PSNI who arrived promptly and arrested the individual. The member of staff who disarmed the assailant suffered a back injury in so doing.

This is the latest in a series of incidents involving attacks, or threats of attack, on our crews and this particular one was a lot more sinister in nature with the call being bogus and an imitation firearm being produced.

Given the circumstances involved in this incident, NIAS would reiterate its call that anyone involved in any type of assault on our crews should face the full rigours of the law, especially if they have been called to a scene under false pretences. Our staff are there to provide help to the helpless and to remove fear from the fearful and yet all too often they are being faced with situations which are becoming more serious in nature.

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Systems Testing in Ambulance Control Room 18 October 2017

EMD in Control Room

In order to facilitate essential maintenance and testing within Emergency Ambulance Control, the Northern Ireland Ambulance has planned a major business continuity test on Wednesday 18 October.

The purpose of the test is to examine the electrical cabling system to identify potential faults.

NIAS receives over 200,000 emergency calls per year and when added to the other 600,000 calls in and out of the control room from Healthcare Professionals, staff and others, the reliance on a fully functional system becomes obvious. Should the system fail without warning the risks are obvious.

In planning the test and implementing business continuity plans, NIAS has ensured a greater measure of control in closing down the system.  The contingency plans include moving operations to a secondary site for the duration of the test.

The testing will last approximately 12 hours and the system will then be powered up. During the period of testing, callers to our 999 service will be dealt with in the same efficient manner as would normally be the case. Callers will be taken through the same processes as before and, as always, NIAS will endeavour to provide the most appropriate response to all calls.

Our triage system aims to provide the quickest response to the sickest patient and will strive to continue to so do. But as always we would ask for the help of all within the community by ensuring that we are called only in real emergencies.

Systems within Headquarters will also be affected including the telephone system. However, for general queries that would normally go through the switchboard at reception a temporary number has been established – 07917 093012.

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Accredited Centre of Excellence (ACE)

On Tuesday 05 September 2017, Jerry Overton, President of the International Academies of Emergency Dispatch (IAED) came from Salt Lake City to visit our Emergency Ambulance Control (EAC), and to present us with an award for achieving status as an Accredited Centre of Excellence (ACE).
NIAS submitted an application to become an ACE in February 2015, and after years of hard work by all colleagues in EAC, we finally met all of the required performance standards in February 2017.

In order to reach this status, each Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) has 3% of their calls audited each month for accuracy, customer service and compliance. They are expected to handle the caller, get information quickly and accurately, calm the situation down and deliver scripted advice depending on the nature of the call.

We are extremely proud of all of our Control Staff, and of the continuing hard work they have put into achieving ACE status. Congratulations on this incredible achievement.

 

 

 

 

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Air Ambulance NI Presented to the Public

Today, Northern Ireland’s Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) was presented to the public.

This marks the culmination of a 12 year campaign backed by the public and driven by key individuals throughout that period.

This new Doctor / Paramedic led service will be of most benefit to those whose lives are at serious risk following significant injury or trauma.

The HEMS service brings with it the advantages of rapid transportation to scene, rapid advanced medical intervention at scene and rapid transport to the most appropriate hospital.

The Air Ambulance has already attended a number of incidents during preparatory and training periods over the last few weeks.

The first call the service was dispatched to was to help a young boy who was injured in a farm incident in Castlewellan on Saturday 22 July. Conor was quickly airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital for treatment.

Conor and his family were able to join us today and you can see in the picture on the right the wonderful moment when they were introduced to the HEMS crew that helped Conor on the day.

 

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George Stott: Recipient of Queen’s Ambulance Medal

You may have seen from our Twitter feed at the weekend that our Northern Area Training Manager, George Stott, was honoured in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List with the Queen’s Ambulance Medal.

George joined the ambulance service in 1981 and has played a lead role in the delivery of training from NVQ programmes through to the introduction, and enhancement, of Paramedic training. He established Division based training which for the first time took training away from the Regional Ambulance Training Centre and facilitated its delivery in the workplace.

George worked closely with local cardiac units to set up a local pilot to introduce pre-hospital defibrillation for cardiac patients in the Northern Division.
George was also instrumental in introducing the use of salbutamol for use by all frontline staff. He also led an innovative pilot to introduce pre-hospital thrombolysis treatment to patients, leading the way among U.K. Ambulance Services.

Another milestone in his career was becoming among the first in the Service to gain a Driving Instructors qualification thereby enhancing the experience for new recruits on their driving courses.

George has been pivotal in embedding the Clinical Support Officer role within in the Service and he continues to lead a team of CSOs in the Northern Area who work with frontline crews to improve standards and enrich the experience of patients who pass through our hands.

George is a very popular member of the Training team and is respected across the Service. We are sure that all staff will join us in congratulating George on being honoured in this way.

We caught up with him today in HQ to talk about his time here and how he felt when he heard about the award.

 

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Falls News

Falls continues to be one of the main reasons people call 999 in NI.

Until now we were only able to refer patients in some areas across NI. From 01 June 2017, NIAS clinicians can refer patients over 65 who are assessed as safe to leave at home to their local falls team no matter where they live.

The Falls team will assess the patient over the phone and can refer you on to a range of services depending on your needs: OT, Physio, Older People’s Doctor, Pharmacy etc.

This is good news!

 

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Register your Defibrillator

Register your AEDNIAS has been working with ‘parkrun’ in Northern Ireland to encourage registration of public access defibrillators, and we would like to urge anyone responsible for one, that hasn’t yet done so, to register it with us by filling out our online form at http://www.nias.hscni.net/our-services/aed

By registering your AED with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, it means that our Emergency Control Operators can direct a caller to the nearest defibrillator, potentially saving a life.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service attempts resuscitation on over 2000 people suffering a pre-hospital cardiac arrest each year.

For every minute that passes whilst in cardiac arrest, chances of survival decrease by 10%.

Increasing the availability of Automatic External Defibrillators (AEDs) throughout Northern Ireland would, without a doubt, improve our cardiac arrest survival rates.

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their heart stops and blood is no longer being pumped around their body. The longer the patient waits for emergency life-support, the harder it becomes to restart their heart.

A defibrillator is a device used to give an electric shock to help restart a heart when it is in cardiac arrest. If more public access defibrillators were available, more people could receive a lifesaving shock as quickly as possible, before the arrival of an Ambulance, giving them the greatest chance of survival.

AEDs are safe and easy to use by anyone with little or no training. The device tells you, and displays what you need to do, with many devices also showing pictures.

The best possible chance for someone’s survival is for them to receive immediate effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and early defibrillation.

This is where you and your community, organisation or business could make a difference.

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Appropriate Use of Our Service

Every day the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service deals with in excess of 500 emergency 999 calls, and this only increases over the Bank Holiday Weekends.

It is vital that you always use our service appropriately. For every inappropriate call we receive, we are unable to help someone who is in a life-threatening condition.

Remember, 999: Use It, Don’t Abuse It

 

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