Ambulance Frontline and Control Staff Abused Over the Weekend

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.

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Kelly McKee: Ireland Dispatcher of the Year 2017

(L-R) Pam Stewart (IAED Chair of Board of Certification), Gavin Flynn, Kelly McKee, Emma Campbell, Louise Delaney, Matt Graham, Jerry Overton (IAED President of Academies of Emergency Dispatch)

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.

(L-R) Gavin Flynn, Kelly McKee, Emma Campbell, Louise Delaney, Matt Graham



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Eddie Murphy Receives National Recognition for Services to Patients

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.

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Shane Devlin Gets Ready to Drive the Ambulance Service Forward

New Chief Executive Shane Devlin in RRVToday we welcome Shane Devlin to NIAS as our new Chief Executive.

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.


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NIAS Crew Praised by Grateful Father on U105

Ambulance at Emergency DepartmentRRV 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:

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Emergency Service Hero of the Year

Station Officer Sammy Nicholl with his Derry Journal Emergency Services Hero of the Year Award
Station Officer Sammy Nicholl with his Derry Journal Emergency Services Hero of the Year Award

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.

Outstanding Bravery Award Nominees (L-R) Seamus McAllister, Cormac McIvor, Pronsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and John McClintock (not pictured).
Outstanding Bravery Award Nominees (L-R) Seamus McAllister, Cormac McIvor, Pronsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and John McClintock (not pictured).

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.

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NIAS Goes Green

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:

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NIAS Frontline Strengthened

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.

Back L-R: Peter McCormack, Anthony Curran, Hannah McKay, Patrick Adams
Front L-R: David Sanderson, David Cairns, Julie Devlin, Bronagh Kelly.

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.

Back L-R: Cormac McIvor, Allistar Collins, Proinsias Dornan, David Hewitt, Robert Taggart
Front L-R: Martin McGarry and David McLarnon


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Foyle Pride 2016

NIAS Staff at Belfast Pride 2016For 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.”

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