Please click the link below to read the report:
Congratulations to Sammy Nicholl who, last weekend, received the Derry Journals Emergency Services Hero of the Year.
Sammy has faithfully served the people of Derry for over 35 years in various roles within the Ambulance Service. Sammy’s long and varied service as an Ambulanceman, Leading Ambulance Person, Control Officer, Paramedic and lately, Station Officer has impacted on the lives and wellbeing, from cradle to grave, of literally hundreds, probably thousands of members of the community where he lives. Sammy has had an unstinting, dedicated and hard working approach to Ambulance work in all its guises and often in an unrecognised way. Sammy has been involved in responding to many incidents over the years, whether they be multi-casualty major incidents or those where he dealt with individual patients in a caring and sensitive manner in their time of need. Sammy is always a willing volunteer to put himself forward when there is a need and has become a frequent face seen at many of the large scale events that have taken place over recent years, as he provides support to their management and public safety. As a Station Officer, Sammy currently manages all the ambulance personnel, facilities and ambulance vehicles in Derry and Limavady but can also be seen still responding to calls from the public when the need arises.
We should also give a special mention to our nominees for a special bravery award.
As you take on a new job you would normally expect your training to ease you into things gently. Not so for Proinsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and Cormac McIvor who while on their Emergency Driving Course with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were pressed into action quicker than they could have imagined.
On a demo drive with Divisional Training Officer, Seamus McAllister, they were approaching the Foyle bridge when they saw a build-up of traffic. As they were waiting in the queue they noticed a bit of a commotion and a young male on the wrong side of the safety railings. A couple of members of the public were trying desperately to hold on to him but he was fighting hard. The new recruits ran up to the scene and were able to lend a fresh pair of hands to assist the tiring limbs of the passers by. Still the young man fought and one of the team ran to the vehicle to get straps which are usually used for securing people to a spinal board. The team was joined at this stage by SO John McClintock. With these straps they were able to secure him, with the help of another paramedic who had arrived on scene, to the railings so that if anyone lost their grip he would still be safe.
The strong caring arms of the ambulance staff were sending a message to him that they were not going to let him go, they were there to care for him at that moment when he felt helpless – he was not alone and as they talked to him he became more settled and willing to listen.
The PSNI arrived and were able to secure him to the bridge as extra insurance against slipping. The longer he was secure, the more chance the team had to talk to him and win his trust. Eventually he stepped over the railings to safety.
Without doubt the initial actions of the unknown members of the public played a major role in saving this man’s life as they bought the time required for the new NIAS trainees to arrive on scene and take over.
The team were pipped for the award by the heroic actions of Davitt Walsh, a member of the public, who jumped in to try and save a family as their car slipped into the water at Buncrana. But all in all it was a proud night for NIAS in the west at the awards ceremony.
Well done everyone.
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is changing its uniform for the first time since its inception in 1995.
The old royal blue shirts and navy trousers are to be replaced by the nationally recognised green uniform from Monday 12 September.
The change means that NIAS staff will now look the same as colleagues across the UK.
The change comes after extensive consultation by the Trust’s Uniform Committee which is made up of management representatives and trade union members representing the views of staff.
Bryan Snoddy, Assistant Director of Operations, and chairman of the Uniform Committee welcomed the change saying;
“The move to green uniforms has come about following a long period of discussion with representatives of staff. Work to facilitate the transition began almost three years ago and I am delighted that from Monday 12 September, NIAS staff will be instantly recognisable by a new uniform which brings a degree of consistency with other ambulance services throughout the UK.
The change in uniform could also be said to reflect the other major changes which have been taking place throughout our Service over the past number of years. These changes, facilitated by appropriate care pathways, are designed to ensure that NIAS delivers what is best for the patient.
From Monday patients may see a different uniform but the people delivering that service are the same highly committed professionals that have would have been delivering the Service on Sunday.
I would like to place on record my personal thanks to those who have worked tirelessly in an effort to ensure that this transition to green happens as seamlessly as possible”
The Trust has produced a short promo video:
As we start a new month, it is probably a good time to congratulate and welcome some staff who have successfully completed their courses in the past 5 weeks.
The top picture shows ACA recruits with Trainer, Glenn O’Rorke.
They will have started to fill the gaps created by some of those on the EMT course who had previously worked as ACA’s.
Below are the magnificent seven who completed that course at the end of July with Trainers, Tommy Sinnerton and Micky Hughes.
For the past few years members of our equality team have been urging me to attend Belfast Pride in support of our LGBT colleagues. Every year I always had a reason/excuse that I was too busy on that day.
Earlier this year I watched a film about the campaign for Equal Marriage in ROI. As I watched I became more aware than ever of the rights of LGBT people in our community. So moved was I that I decided right there and then that I would make sure that I attended the event this year to show my support for LGBT colleagues.
As the day passed I never gave a thought as to how much the presence of non-LGBT colleagues would mean to those who are LGBT. But then as arrangements were being progressed for Derry Pride this weekend, the following was sent in. When you read this, I hope you stop for a while and consider if you can attend this weekend – your support, through your presence, could mean so much to someone who may be struggling and who needs to know that they are not alone. This is what was sent in for inclusion in promotion of the day.
The I that I am, untold, unseen, hidden fearful of society’s spite.
Closeted, closed, clothed in that which I am not, society accepts.
Disillusioned, despairing that the hidden I be recognised,
shown only in the darkness of anonymity, the I that is seen is not me.
With myself, I watch our years slip by and with them, what might be.
Calling, crying, shouting to the world when I know it cannot hear,
The nature if the I that I am, pleading acceptance.
Ten years have gone by since I have written this and I write it now.
In ten years time I will write this and think of ten years time.
“I knew the guy who wrote this, I did not like him very much.
A very sad person who contemplated suicide. I know this because that person was me.
That is why Pride is very important to me and should be for all of us irrespective of our sexual orientation. It gives hope of acceptance to the fearful, closeted teenager and adult, hope to the bullied and battered by homophobes. It reaches out to those that fear being hanged in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to those who are beaten half to death then burned alive in Africa. Pride cries for those who are bound hand and foot, thrown of buildings then stoned to death.
Pride, as at stonewall, cries out “No more” and celebrates life.
Equal rights are Human rights and common to all Humanity so all of us have a responsibility to our humanity to ensure that Human Rights apply to all.
Many people have LGBT friends and relatives – children, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and parents. Pride is a wonderful chance to show solidarity with them.
Finally Pride celebrates inclusiveness and diversity and I am very proud that so many of my straight NIAS colleagues marched at Belfast Pride and we need our straight allies at Foyle and Newry Prides.”
The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is urging caution following an incident today when a man and two young children were struck by lightning in Lisburn.
NIAS was called to the scene, just before 2 pm today, following reports that an adult male had been struck by a bolt of lightning. A Rapid Response Paramedic was on scene in 7 minutes to find that two children had also been struck. Three A&E crews and a further 2 RRV Paramedics were sent to the scene.
The adult was taken to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital and the two children were taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. All three are being treated for the injuries sustained and they remain in our thoughts.
As more thundery showers are forecast with the possibility of lightning we would ask people to remain very vigilant when they are out and about. If
there is a high chance of thunder storms – lightning safety advice would suggest that you stay indoors but if you are outside you should avoid open fields and hilltops. You should also stay away from tall, isolated trees. If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members. You should also stay away from water and wet items as well as metal objects, which are all excellent conductors of electricity.
Please – just stay safe!
NIAS hosted a delegation of Health and Social Care representatives from Finland this morning.
Our visitors were met by Dr David McManus, John Wright, Michelle Lemon, Ciaran McKenna and Frank Rafferty.
Following a short presentation outlining the role of NIAS and how we fit into the HSC system, with a particular emphasis on the recent introduction of new alternative care pathways, the party were shown into our control room and also met with frontline staff, John Fox, Brian McKee and Andy Moore.
Before leaving, the group were presented with a memento of their visit and thanked us for our hospitality.
Cardiac Arrest survivor, Nurse Wendy Cunningham, visited ambulance service headquarters in November to meet the staff who helped saved her life following her arrest in Templemore Swimming pool in Belfast.
Describing them as her “heroes”, Wendy wanted to personally say thanks for everything they did that night. Sean Martin was the Rapid Response Paramedic who arrived at the scene to find CPR being performed by one of Wendy’s friends and a pool attendant who, in a very fortuitous coincidence, had actually been taught CPR by Wendy herself.
While they continued CPR, Sean placed the pads on Wendy to discover she was in the shockable rhythm of VF. After one shock, a pulse returned but Wendy was not yet out of the woods as she had not yet started breathing again. The A&E crew, Alison McKinley and Eugene Jordan had arrived to assist just as Wendy’s pulse disappeared again and she needed another shock to restore it.
Wendy was then transferred to the ambulance and brought to the RVH where a team was waiting for her. She spent some time in the hospital and has since returned to a fully active life.
Sean Martin, RRV Paramedic, believes that the key to Wendy’s survival was the early CPR that was given by Wendy’s friends. He would encourage everyone to learn how to do CPR to keep the blood flowing to the brain while the Paramedics make their way to the scene. His message, to anyone who might be a bit hesitant about doing chest compressions, is very simple “Get stuck in – do the chest compressions and you might save a life!”
Watch Wendy’s meeting with her heroes.
In 2012, Rapid Response Paramedic, Heather Sharpe, received details of an emergency call in Newtownabbey. Everything about the call was routine until the moment she arrived at the house. There, her “patient” took it upon himself to physically assault the very person who had, on trust, come into his house to help him in his hour of need.
In the course of the assault, he ripped Heathers uniform and attempted to remove, from her, the only means of communication which she had with ambulance control – her radio and mic. In recalling the incident, Heather recounts how she was fearful for her life and really believed that he was going to kill her. As she tried to get away he wrestled with her from the top to the bottom of the stairs. When she got to the bottom she saw the chance to make her escape through the front door and she took it.
Once outside, she fixed her clothing as best she could, given that it had been ripped. But then she realised that in the house was the wife of the man who had just assaulted her. She began to fear for that lady’s safety and, unbelievably, went back in to see if she could get her out. When asked what would make a Paramedic do that, knowing the possible dangers that lay inside, her answer was simple – “It’s what makes a Paramedic” was all she said.
Help arrived in the form of another ambulance crew and the patient was taken to hospital. Heather was left trying, somehow, to make sense of what had just happened. She stood in that space between the house and her car, looking at each in turn, wondering how she had come to be in this position. Her ambulance shirt was ripped, so she put her coat on, to preserve a degree of modesty, lifted her Paramedic bag and got into her car to drive to the nearest ambulance station. There she was safe among her friends – safe enough to allow her to let her emotions out and she cried!
This is an account of one of approximately 250 assaults per year on ambulance staff. Heather, very bravely, has put her account of this story on film.
Staff in HQ and Control have responded magnificently to our Christmas Giving Tree appeal.
The tree in the reception area had a number of stars placed on it with details of a young person who might otherwise not have been receiving a present at this time of the year and staff were invited to take a star and replace it with present. It was absolutely amazing how quickly the stars were removed from the tree and how presents started to appear in their place.
This small gesture from all those who took part just shows that at this time of the year people are aware of how fortunate they are themselves and how grateful they are to be given the opportunity to help those in need. I hope that everyone who left a gift will take the time on Christmas Day to think that some child, somewhere has a big smile on their face because Santa didn’t forget them. You probably think it was nothing, but it will mean so much to the children and also to their parents.
Well done and thank you to you all!