A group of military volunteers at South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) have been awarded one of the Queen’s most prestigious honours in recognition of their lifesaving work in local communities.
MOD Corsham, a Ministry of Defence base located in Wiltshire, provides personnel who make up one of the military co-responder schemes at SCAS which sees individuals trained to attend medical emergencies.
The scheme is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups across the UK to receive The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service this year.
The award was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of the Queen’s coronation and is the highest given to local volunteer groups across the UK, with winners announced during the annual Volunteers’ Week celebration.
It recognises outstanding community work and is equivalent to an MBE.
Volunteer co-responders, who are made up of members of the Armed Forces and other emergency services, attend a variety of emergencies and provide first aid in the crucial minutes before the arrival of paramedics.
The MOD Corsham Military Co-Responder Scheme, although based outside of the SCAS patch in Wiltshire, can be deployed across the SCAS counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
These volunteers also spend time raising funds for South Central Ambulance Charity to provide vehicles and equipment for use in their local communities as part of their responder schemes.
“As volunteer co-responders, our mission is to make that big difference with patients who require a time-critical, pre-hospital response,” said Louis Edwards, a member of the MOD Corsham Military Co-Responder Scheme at SCAS.
“At a time when every minute counts, we contribute to getting the most positive outcome possible to their situation.”
Nicola Dunbar, Head of Community Engagement and Training at SCAS (pictured), said: “We are extremely grateful to our colleagues in other emergency services and the military who generously give their time to train and work as volunteer co-responders for us.
“Our military co-responders in particular spend significant time not only assisting with medical emergencies in their local communities but also voluntarily raising funds to provide vehicles and equipment.
“This award rightly recognises their outstanding commitment, dedication and achievements and is thoroughly deserved given the role these individuals play in caring for patients and saving lives.”
Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, added: “We have more than 1,200 community first responders, medical students, military, police and fire co-responders trained to attend life-threatening emergencies and they all deserve the highest praise.
“This recognition for our military co-responders during Volunteers’ Week is absolutely fantastic and the perfect way to celebrate the role they play in delivering excellent patient care as well as raising vital funds for our charity – thank you.”
Representatives of the MOD Corsham Military Co-Responder Scheme will receive the award crystal and certificate from Mr James Puxley, Lord-Lieutenant of Berkshire, later this summer.
In addition, two volunteers from MOD Corsham will attend a garden party at Buckingham Palace in May 2022 along with other recipients.
CONGRATULATIONS TO CHRIS JACKSON ON HIS AMBULANCE LEADERSHIP FORUM (ALF) AWARD
Chris Jackson, Urgent Care Pathways Manager – Specialist Practitioner, has had his fantastic work for South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) recognised with an award at the ALF Awards 2021.
Chris won the ‘Exceptional Specialist Paramedic’ award at the 2021 forum, which was held online this year.
Mark Ainsworth, Director of Operations, said:
“Chris is a deserved winner due to his transformational work based on the core principles of specialist practice – Right Care, Right Place at the Right Time.
“He has had leading role in the Urgent Care Pathway project, one of the biggest clinical transformational pieces of work ever undertaken in SCAS.”
Chris has had an ambulance career of over 20 years and has been a Specialist Paramedic for more than 10 years.
He was approached to work on the Urgent Care Pathway project due to his very clear passion for getting patients into the most appropriate care pathway – be that to a speciality in an acute hospital, a community speciality or promoting self-care.
He immediately recognised key issues that needed to be addressed to increase pathway usage and noted that the Trust didn’t fully understand the options available. Staff needed support with decision making, the Trust required more information on the final destination of patients (which was key when going to departments other than emergency departments), and no granular data was available for any community pathways accessed.
To date the project has delivered a robust governance schedule around all pathways, a digital platform that supports clinical staff in decision making and an advanced data collection tool. It has so far changed the patient journey of over 20,000 patients, but this figure is just the tip of the iceberg.
Chris has been instrumental in many of these achievements.
The project will continue to develop and be adopted into business as usual for SCAS with a care pathway team introduced to oversee it.
Well done Chris!
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) is the first in the country to rollout a new device which can perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) on a patient automatically – freeing up paramedics to carry out other vital interventions.
The state-of-the-art technology, known as LUCAS 3, is a mechanical system which can deliver high quality chest compressions consistently from the moment crews arrive on scene and throughout a patient’s journey to hospital without interruption.
It is an upgraded version of the previous model – LUCAS 2 – which clinicians at SCAS evaluated in 2014 as part of the PARAMEDIC trial led by the University of Warwick and published in journal The Lancet.
The rollout of the new equipment has been made possible by South Central Ambulance Charity, which is funding 28 of the devices to support crews across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.
The system comes complete with wireless Bluetooth connectivity which makes it possible to configure compression rate, depth and alerts specific to an organisation’s resuscitation guidelines. It also means it can collect data which can be reviewed post-event and shared with other clinicians.
Emergency services attempt resuscitation in around 30,000 cardiac arrests – when the heart stops pumping blood around the body and to the brain – outside of hospital in the UK every year.
CPR is essential to maintaining blood and oxygen flow around the body while a person is unconscious and not breathing whether performed manually or with a mechanical device.
Once paramedics arrive and begin CPR or take over from bystanders who may have initiated it, the transition from manual compressions to LUCAS can be completed within seven seconds, ensuring continuity of compressions.
“We know that delivering high quality and uninterrupted chest compressions in cardiac arrest is one of the major determinants of survival to hospital discharge but it can be very challenging for a number of reasons,” said Dr John Black, Medical Director at SCAS.
“People can become fatigued when performing CPR manually which then affects the rate and quality of compressions and patients may need to be moved from difficult locations, such as down a narrow flight of stairs, or remote places which impedes the process.
“There are also significant safety risks to ambulance personnel being unrestrained and performing CPR in the back of vehicles travelling at high speed.
“These devices don’t fatigue or change the delivery in any way, meaning high quality CPR can be delivered for as long as is required while freeing up the paramedic, keeping them seated and belted and able to focus on other critical aspects of patient care on a journey.
“It ultimately acts as a robotic third crew member for our teams.”
LUCAS devices are also used for resuscitation in hospital emergency departments and to support patients in cardiac arrest in intensive care units, as well for patients undergoing life-saving coronary balloon angioplasty and stenting procedures to widen narrowed arteries.
Professor Charles Deakin, Divisional Medical Director for SCAS and lead for resuscitation, added: “The LUCAS device transforms the management at a cardiac arrest and allows paramedics to focus on the key aspects of clinical care.
“It will be an invaluable part of the team and contribute to the already outstanding results that SCAS has achieved in saving lives of these patients.”
Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, said: “We are really pleased to be able to fund this state-of-the-art equipment and want to thank our donors – patients, staff, communities and businesses – as well as NHS Charities Together for making it possible.”
Staff at South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the delivery of urgent National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) COVID-19 research.
A team made up of frontline staff on alternative duties drafted in alongside existing members of the research team was established rapidly at SCAS last year to support six vaccine hubs across Hampshire, Dorset and Oxfordshire and a variety of other studies.
The team helped with patient recruitment, administered vaccines and also collected and audited data at speed which provided outcomes from multiple trials and subsequently contributed to the launch of the current national vaccine rollout.
They also worked on the research delivery of studies including PRINCIPLE, which is investigating new treatments for COVID-19 that can be used in the community, and the RECAP study looking at how to predict the severity of COVID-19 and identify the need for hospital admission.
SCAS staff have also supported UK-REACH, a study which aims to calculate the risk of contracting and dying from COVID-19 for ethnic minority healthcare workers.
These projects have been prioritised and supported by the NIHR Clinical Research Network (CRN) Wessex, which held a virtual ceremony last week that saw the SCAS team named one of 27 winners of an ‘Outstanding Contribution to COVID-19 Research’ award.
“These team members adjusted exceptionally and embraced challenges while working on NIHR COVID 19 research projects,” said Martina Brown, Research and Clinical Audit Manager at SCAS.
“They learned quickly how to contend with complex research delivery processes within vaccine hubs and how to recruit patients against multiple research protocols, helping them to grow as clinicians and academics.
“Our research paramedics and research administrator not only trained up these new recruits but also went out to support vaccine hubs, helping them to learn new skills and research delivery at the next level which is testament to the dedication of our staff and the Trust’s values.
“This has been an extraordinary effort, particularly when considering that such studies are designed to be run from primary and secondary care and not necessarily from the pre-hospital setting.”
Alongside the team award, Professor Charles Deakin, Divisional Medical Director at SCAS, received individual recognition for his research leadership and overseeing the recruitment and adherence to the protocols.
Martina added: “Professor Deakin’s collaborative leadership skills, advice and encouragement inspired many colleagues and teams to work together effectively and passionately which led to offering our services users more opportunities to take part in COVID-19 research.”
South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is proud to launch the first fully electric emergency response vehicles into its vehicle fleet.
The two Kia e-Niro vehicles have been designed and adapted by South Central Fleet Services to contain all the equipment, medication and supplies to allow first responder paramedics from SCAS to reach patients quickly under emergency driving conditions – and generating zero emissions in the process.
Charles Porter, Director of Finance at SCAS, said:
“I am delighted that these first two fully electric, zero emission emergency response vehicles will shortly be introduced to our operational fleet. I would like to thank everyone in the project team for their determination and commitment to delivering this significant step in our strategy to continually reduce our environmental impact. As an organisation, we operate over 1,300 vehicles to deliver our services so being able to move to fully electric vehicles will be vital in order to deliver our environmental goals. We are key partners in national projects to deliver zero emission emergency vehicle fleets and we are already exploring how we can bring electric vehicles into our emergency ambulance and patient transport service operations.”
SCAS began looking at electric vehicles over 18 months ago but at that time there were only a limited number of manufacturers in the market and the driving range of the models available wasn’t quite what was needed for an emergency response vehicle. Fast forward to 2021 and with a greater number of vehicles available for testing, combined with further advances in electric motoring technology, it became clear that everything the Trust needed could now be delivered.
Nick Lambert, Head of Education – Driving at SCAS, said:
“We tested quite a few electric vehicles and the Kia eNiro came out on top every time as an all-round, versatile option for what we were looking for in our emergency response vehicles. Our staff will require extra training before taking the Kia eNiro out on the road.
Electric vehicles perform slightly differently from traditional vehicles. We’ll need to train staff in how much more responsive they are in terms of acceleration and how to drive using regenerative braking which allows us to regain energy whilst the vehicle is moving to extend its range.”
The Kia eNiro has a manufacturer’s driving range of up to 282 miles on a single charge – well within the estimated 90-100 miles that an emergency response vehicle will cover in an average 10-hour operational shift. Charging points are available at the Trust’s ambulance stations, as well as local hospitals, so the vehicles can easily be topped up if needed whilst on standby.
Gregory Edwards, Vehicle Commissioning Unit Manager, South Central Fleet Services, said:
“It was really exciting for my team and I to be given the opportunity to design the vehicles from the ground up, taking them from a standard electric road vehicle to an emergency response vehicle.
There were a number of challenges we had to overcome, including ensuring the additional electric systems needed in an emergency vehicle wouldn’t drain the battery, emergency light fittings, weight and space limitations, but we’re really pleased with the end result and our operational colleagues can’t wait to get behind the wheel and take them out to help our patients.”
As fully electric, zero emission vehicles, there are also a number of additional benefits the Kia eNiro will bring to ongoing fleet costs. With no internal combustion engine in the vehicle there is a significant reduction in moving parts required, no oil or filter changes needed, less waste produced, reduced downtime for the vehicles to be off road and an estimated 25% reduction in overall maintenance costs compared to a petrol or diesel vehicle.
The UK Government’s Road to Zero strategy is a commitment for all new cars and vans to be effectively zero emission by 2040. The introduction of the first two electric emergency response vehicles into the SCAS emergency fleet is a significant step forward in the Trust’s own Green Strategy which aims to deliver a 50% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2030.
These first two electric vehicles will be based at the Trust’s Oxford City resource centre as part of an initial pilot study. Once the anticipated performance, cost and environmental benefits have been proven under normal operational conditions, it is expected that further electric response vehicles will be rolled out to all areas that South Central Ambulance Service covers.
About South Central Ambulance Service
- South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) provides a range of emergency, urgent care and non-emergency healthcare services, along with commercial logistics services, to the populations of the South Central region – Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire – as well as non-emergency patient transport services In Surrey and Sussex, and a dental service (accessed via NHS 111) in parts of Dorset.
- SCAS now serves a population of more than seven million people and employs more than 4,000 staff who, together with 965 volunteer community and co-responders, enable the organisation to attend more than 555,000 incidents via 999, handle 1.24 million calls to NHS 111 and make 866,000 patient transport service journeys each year.
- SCAS is a foundation trust, which means it has thousands of members and a Council of Governors which form an integral part of the governance structure of the Trust. Being a foundation trust means there are more opportunities for patients and their families, staff and local residents to play a part in the future of the organisation. Find out more here: scas.nhs.uk/get-involved/
- South Central Ambulance Charity raises funds to support SCAS. All the money raised by the charity is used to enhance services, projects and equipment across the Trust. The Charity works across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire as well as supporting patient transport services In Surrey and Sussex. Find out more here: charity
About South Central Fleet Services Ltd
South Central Fleet Services Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust formed in 2015 to provide a dedicated fleet management and vehicle maintenance solution to the Trust.
A pioneering modelling system developed by a team at South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) helped to ensure thousands of patients continued to receive life-saving treatment in hospitals at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Patient Transport Service (PTS) at SCAS provides an end-to-end experience for patients, covering everything from call handling, planning and dispatch through to the 900 trained Ambulance Care Assistants who make 866,000 journeys across six counties in central southern England every year.
These include essential hospital appointments for radiotherapy, chemotherapy and renal dialysis, as well as transfers, discharges and other outpatient appointments.
When the pandemic took hold more than a year ago, the implementation of COVID restrictions, staffing levels, reduction in patients per vehicle and increased journey times due to the wearing and removal of personal protective equipment (PPE) impacted the service immediately.
“It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when patients think of ambulance services but patient transport is an essential route to healthcare for millions of patients across the country and we alone make almost a million journeys a year in the counties we cover,” said Charlotte Micallef, Head of Continuous Improvement at SCAS.
“The onset of the pandemic threw up a number of significant issues for the service in the early stages, particularly a reduction in the number of patients able to be cohorted in one vehicle from up to five to one and the added journey time per patient due to PPE.
“So effectively we were in a position of requiring up to five additional vehicles to move the same number of patients as pre-COVID and the time per patient journey increased by 37% due to the wearing and removal of PPE – potentially multiple times per patient.
“This was also against a backdrop of managing staff absence due to illness themselves, self-isolation because of family members or because they were shielding, and a reduction in additional vehicle capacity due to restrictions on the use of taxis and volunteer cars in the early stages.”
Ms Micallef and the team set to work to develop a modelling system to forecast the expected demand for each day of the week using historic data and factored in staff absences, reduced patients in vehicles and extended journey times to calculate the ability to cope on any given day.
“We developed the modelling tool in response to COVID whereby we had a very unknown picture of the future in terms of demand and the hours we would have available in light of rapidly changing guidance that would impact on the capacity we had available,” she said.
“Due to the cessation of much non-urgent work in hospitals in the initial stages of the first wave, the impact of staff absences, reduced patient numbers in vehicles and additional time needed due to PPE was not as severe as we anticipated as it meant our activity in terms of patients needing to attend outpatient appointments dropped.
“Therefore we were able to focus on essential patient journeys such as those for cancer and renal dialysis, as well as transfers and discharges, and it gave us time to analyse trends in the modelling system as we moved past the first wave so we could prepare as best we could for the following months.”
As COVID infections and hospital admissions settled in the summer, outpatient activity increased alongside higher numbers of hospital discharges – but staff absence, restrictions on passenger numbers and the increased time on journeys as a result of infection prevention measures remained the same.
“As well as providing invaluable information to keep our service running and patients receiving essential treatments, our modelling has enabled us to provide information predominantly to Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to highlight our pressures and improve understanding of the challenges the PTS has faced throughout COVID,” said Ms Micallef.
“It made it much easier for us to demonstrate that, although activity overall was lower after the first wave of COVID, we were not able to move the same number of patients with the hours we had in the previous year, so we had to monitor our capacity against demand and highlight when any challenges were imminent.
“Our modelling meant we were all set – as much as we possibly could be – to contend with the ongoing impact of the pandemic and how that would affect our service.
“This was particularly noticeable in December with high activity and high levels of staff absence but, through our preparatory work, we have been able to maintain the best possible service for patients throughout.”
Paul Stevens, Director of Commercial Services at SCAS, said: “The modelling system developed by the team at SCAS at pace under difficult circumstances last year proved to be an essential part of our COVID response as it helped ensure we could absorb and adapt to the evolving changes to national guidance with regards to crew and patient safety while in the care of the PTS.
“Although patient transport can sometimes be overlooked, it is an absolutely vital part of the ambulance service and, for those patients undergoing life-saving cancer treatments or kidney dialysis, a genuine lifeline which we are proud to say we could continue to deliver despite the significant challenges in the early stages of the pandemic.”