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.
NIAS is delighted to report that, last night, at the Ambulance Leaders Forum Awards Dinner, our very own Eddie Murphy received the national ambulance “PTS Staff Member” award.
This award is presented to a member of the Patient Care/Transport Service who throughout their career has demonstrated the highest levels of commitment to their patients and colleagues. Eddie ticks every one of those boxes.
Having worked for NIAS and EHSSB ambulance service for more than thirty three years, Eddie has been at the forefront of developments in the delivery of non-emergency ambulance services. For most of that time he has worked in Broadway Ambulance Station as PCS Supervisor.
Particularly close to his heart are young children who are in need of our care. They and their parents can ask for no better person than Eddie Murphy to make their journey in the ambulance nothing other than one full of care, compassion and, when possible, a bit of fun. Following in the footsteps of his own mentor, John Gribbon, Eddie has built a team around him to make sure that this care and compassion is always present.
Being exposed to the suffering of children so young, Eddie has always been moved to help them in whatever way he can. He has been a tireless fund raiser for the Royal Belfast Hospital for sick Children and cajoled many a colleague to pull an ambulance, buy a ticket for a Charity ball or even build a daisy chain – all to help raise vital funds to improve the care for the most seriously ill children in our land.
Last night would have been an immensely proud evening for Eddie and I can imagine as he received his award he would have been thinking of the help and friendship of Izzy, Eugene, Jim and a host of others but, particularly, his old friend Gerry who he has missed sorely over recent years. It would have been an emotional night for him but one on which he should have been rightly proud as, even though he is PCS to the core, Eddie Murphy has impacted upon so many of our front line staff who passed through his hands at the start of their careers.
Eddie Murphy is the consummate professional whose example demonstrates to colleagues the privilege they have to be able to enter, on a daily basis, the lives of the least fortunate with respect and dignity. He is not just an ordinary Eddie – he is Eddie Murphy.
Congratulations Eddie – very well deserved.
Shane joins us from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust from whom we are hearing great things about him and detecting a sense of loss because he has left them to join us – a classic “their loss is our gain”.
Shane brings to us 18 years of management experience in Health and the experience of having led on a number of organisational change projects designed to improve patient care.
Hailing from Craigavon, Shane is married with two children who help keep his feet firmly on the ground. Away from the pressures of the job, Shane likes nothing more than a round of golf although, by his own admission, he hasn’t been able, despite his great experience in developing strategies, to develop one good enough to improve his game.
Not one for letting the grass grow under his feet, Shane has said “I really look forward to spending the next number of months getting out and about and meeting as many of the people who work in the Service as possible so as to understand the challenges that are faced and to build, in partnership, the plans for the future.”
He also had this to say to anyone who uses, or may have to use, our Service;
“Like you all I have, until now, watched the ambulance service from afar and marvelled at the work they do and the dedication they possess. I too have seen the news reports about the challenges they face in terms of workload, meal breaks, late finishes and assaults by those who just do not appreciate the help they are being given. Now I am no longer a spectator – I am their Chief Executive. I want to see what extra impetus I can bring to the work that is ongoing so that, in partnership, we can resolve these issues to ensure that the staff you see now can maintain their love for the job so that patients that will continue to benefit. I honestly see it as an honour and privilege to have been given this role and I intend to give it my all.”
In the video below, Shane reflects on his first day in NIAS.
RRV Paramedic Ricky Bendall and Bangor A&E crew Ian Watty and Aynsley McKim received public praise this morning on local radio station, U105, from a very grateful father Aaron Duffy for their quick actions and care following a horrific incident at his home yesterday afternoon. He has a 5 year old son, Reilly, with Down's Syndrome who managed to get himself into a tumble dryer at home. When the door closed the machine switched on automatically.
Reilly's mum was upstairs and Aaron himself was out of the house. The alarm was actually raised by the family's pet dog. Reilly's mum came down to find out what the noise was about and was horrified to see Reilly in the tumble dryer.
The RRV was on scene within 6 minutes and was followed by the crew. Reilly was taken to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald and is now recovering well.
His dad just wanted to go on air and thank the crews, along with the medical staff at the Ulster, but also to warn other parents of the dangers and the need to be very careful. Today, Reilly is back to his old self and we will maybe get him a wee visit to the station next week.
His dad also thought that it was very nice of Ricky, Ian and Aynsley to put their head round the curtain to check how Reilly was getting on when they arrived back at the hospital on later calls.
A massive well done to all three of you!
You can listen to Aaron speaking on the Frank Mitchell show by following the link: