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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
An ambulance crew was assaulted in Trillick last night by a female patient who had called for their assistance moments earlier.
Responding to a 999 call, the ambulance crew sought to do nothing more than help an individual in need. During assessment and initial treatment the patient struck out at one of the female crew striking her on the face and also kicking her. The second member of the crew, who was also female, attempted to intervene to prevent the patient from damaging equipment and, as a result, sustained an arm injury.
The crew removed themselves from the scene and called for police assistance who arrived and dealt with the individual involved.
Both crew members were stood down as they were unable to continue their shift meaning that the significantly rural area in and around Enniskillen was left with reduced cover between 11pm and 8am this morning with only one crew remaining to cope with calls in the area.
Assaults on our crews continue on an almost daily basis and the Trust hopes that by continuing to highlight those more serious in nature that everyone with influence in local communities and leadership positions wider afield will do all they can to support our staff, particularly by ensuring that those who carry out such attacks are brought before the courts to face the real prospect of custodial sentencing.
Over the weekend, Northern Ireland Ambulance Service crews and control staff dealt with the usual high volume of calls from people needing our assistance in life threatening situations. a small number of these made headlines including a fatal road incident in Crossgar, an assault on a young father of two which resulted in his death and a number of sudden deaths of young men in the Belfast area.
Each of these calls is dealt with in the most professional manner by our staff, from the call taker to the crews who arrive at the scene.
Despite this frontline crews and staff in control continue to receive abuse from a small minority who have no regard for their own safety or that of our staff.
On Saturday morning a female call taker was subject to extreme vulgar abuse while taking a call from a member of the public. Although there is no acceptable level of tolerance of this behaviour, it was so bad on this occasion that details have been passed to PSNI who expect to follow it up.
On Sunday evening a crew from Larne was tasked to Whitehead for a male patient who had himself been the victim of an assault. While transporting the patient to hospital the crew reported that the patient was becoming violent in the back of the ambulance and requested police assistance as a matter of urgency. The crew exited the vehicle while awaiting the arrival of PSNI during which time a degree of damage was caused.
NIAS understands that this person was charged by PSNI.
It is regrettable that, once again, we find ourselves having to report this incidents in the media to highlight the fact that, despite ongoing educational campaigns, these incidents continue to happen almost daily.
The Trust welcomes the fact that courts have begun to issue custodial sentences for such behaviour and we hope that the real threat of prison can act as a deterrent to people who engage in such activity.
NIAS nominated five Emergency Medical Dispatchers for awards at the recent Ireland Navigator Conference, hosted by the International Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch (IAEMD) in Dublin.
The category for which our EMDS were nominated related to individual 999 calls during which they had remained compliant to the Medical Priority Dispatch System (MPDS) and had overseen a successful or beneficial patient outcome.
All five were shortlisted, but as in all these things there is only one winner. NIAS is delighted that the overall winner was NIAS EMD Kelly McKee. Kelly has been with us for around 2 years and has proven herself to be entirely adept at the complex and often emotional challenge of remaining compliant to a protocol while delivering telephone care and assessment – and all this while not coming across as simply reading a script. The award she picked up was Ireland Dispatcher of the Year 2017.
The 999 call Kelly handled was a 2nd Party caller whose partner was in labour with a birth imminent. The baby was delivered prior to the arrival of an ambulance crew and Kelly remained compliant delivering nearly 50 Post Dispatch Instructions (PDIs) / Pre-Arrival Instructions (PAIs). To complete this call Kelly had to negotiate the appropriate PAI panels during circumstances which were changing by the second. To ensure a successful outcome Kelly had to continually reassure and encourage the caller while remaining calm, coherent and composed. The final section of the audit report relating to this call notes that Kelly; displayed service attitude, used correct volume and tone, displayed compassion, avoided gaps, explained actions, provided reassurance and created expectations.
NIAS recently introduced an internal awards scheme for our EMDs to promote excellence. Certificates and award badges are presented for:
- Number of Customer Service compliant Calls
- Number of calls with High or total Compliance
- Baby Born
- Life saved – Cardiac
- Life saved – non Cardiac
The Trust is aware that the world of our call-taking EMD colleagues is little understood and to be honest, often a little undervalued. They provide online advice in highly charged situations to callers who have little or no experience in dealing with the situation in which they find themselves. Their calmness and helpful attitude to callers can often improve a difficult situation prior to the arrival of Paramedics. We are delighted that Kelly won the award and are confident that we will return next year to pick up even more awards.
Our other nominees for the award were; Gavin Flynn, Louise Delaney, Emma Campbell and Matt Graham. Congratulations to them on their nominations.