Ambulance Service Institute celebrates excellence at annual awards ceremony

Ambulance Service Institute president, Dr Peter Griffin, welcomes guests to the 2015 ASI annual awards. Photo Credit: Brian Aldrich

Ambulance Service Institute president, Dr Peter Griffin, welcomes guests to the 2015 ASI annual awards. Photo Credit: Brian Aldrich

Friends and family gathered at the Cholmondeley Room and Terrace, House of Lords, on 25 June to celebrate the Ambulance Service Institute (ASI) annual awards. The occasion recognised those in the pre-hospital care sector who have performed above and beyond the call of duty, in their dedication to saving lives.

The awards were presented by Dr Peter Griffin, president of the ASI, who gave a brief welcome address before proceeding with the awards.

The ASI was formed in 1976 and has members throughout the UK NHS ambulance services and in various overseas ambulance services. It is an independent institute whose membership is dedicated to improving, monitoring and raising the standards and quality of ambulance provision and thereby improving the professionalism and quality of care available to patients.

Set up in 2000 and originally held at AMBEX in Harrogate, the ASI Awards were initially only for NHS ambulance service personnel. However, the awards now incorporate accolades for military, private and voluntary services.

The Paramedic/Emergency Care Practitioner Award went to Alex Watts of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who was first on scene at a multiple fatality road traffic collision on the Colchester Road at Gosfield in December last year. Watts was commended for his actions in the initial management of the scene, placing himself at risk to organise and effect a rescue of at least three patients.

Speaking to the Journal of Paramedic Practice, Alex said:

‘It’s nice to get something.’

However, the event undoubtedly had a lasting effect, as he added:

‘The whole job did leave a bit of a mark to be honest, it wasn’t the nicest of jobs. [But] you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and that’s just the way it is unfortunately, it was just my turn.’

Paramedic Clive Parnham receives President's Commendation from Baroness Angela Browning. Photo Credit: Brian Aldrich

Paramedic Clive Parnham receives President’s Commendation from Baroness Angela Browning. Photo Credit: Brian Aldrich

President’s Commendations went to motorbike paramedic Steve Harris of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust and paramedic Clive Parnham of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

Steve, affectionately known as ‘Forrest’ by colleagues as well as fans of Channel 5’s Emergency Bikers, recently retired from 18 years as a motorcycle paramedic. Although taking life at a slower pace, he still patrols the streets of Birmingham on a part-time basis, all in the name of patient care.

Clive was nominated for being a dedicated and supportive member of staff who is always willing to assist. His citation referred to him as a great model to others and a great support to all new staff in his care. It was mentioned that if you were to cut him in half he would read ambulance service through the middle.

Commenting on receiving the award, Clive said:

‘I feel very humbled. It’s always nice to be recognised for the work that you put into things. 32 years in the ambulance service I have seen an awful lot of changes, but it has been a really fantastic career.’

The Innovation Award went to the West Midlands Mental Health Response Unit, collected by Robert Cole, head of clinical practice at West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and chief inspector Sean Russell of West Midlands Police. Starting as a trial scheme in January last year, the inter-agency mental health triage unit has seen a dramatic reduction in the number of people suffering from mental health who ended up in police custody in the local area.

The Control Room Award went to Heather Wilson of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, whose passion to her role and her commitment to improving the quality of the service provided to patients has led to her rapidly progressing from call handler, to dispatcher, to dispatch team leader in a little over two years.

The First Aid/Community First Responder Award went to Rossendale Community First Responder Group. The award was collected by Brian Pickup and Dawn Taylor who organise the local group. Their nomination was based on their dedication and professional approach to volunteering, and the way they work in partnership with the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.

The Patient Transport Service Award went to Stephen Dines and Justine Newton of East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust for the way they dealt with an unusual and difficult incident. They were said to have showed professionalism and remained calm and reassuring to their patient until help arrived.

The Special Incident Award went to paramedic Louise Smith and technician Joanne Taylor of East Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who were commended for their actions after being involved in a crash while transporting a patient.

The Air Ambulance Award went to Sergeant David Currie, a search and rescue winchman at RAF Valley. Currie received his reward in recognition of his assistance to a man who had fallen into a quarry in the vicinity of Horseshoe Pass, Wrexham. Displaying exceptional clinical skills, clarity of thought under pressure and outstanding management of his winch operator, it was felt his action unequivocally saved the life of his casualty.

The Front-line Ambulance Award was given to technicians Neil Ashmore and Sarah Lawrence of West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Trust, who attended a severe fire in Tipton in August 2014. They were praised for their bravery at the scene, where they acted above and beyond the call of duty, at great personal risk, to care for the two patients injured as a result of the fire.

The Military Award was presented to Sergeant Simeon Tomlinson, a senior non-commissioned officer paramedic with 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, RAF Brize Norton. Tomlinson is the only reserve paramedic to have undertaken three deployments as part of the rotary Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT) and was recognised as a super clinician, admired by his fellow colleagues and noted for providing the best paramedic care on a daily basis.

Billy McPhail and Gareth Acres received the Public Spirited Award for an incident at Strood Railway on 28 May 2014, where they rescued a woman who had slipped and fell on the railway line.

In a closing address to guests, Baroness Browning congratulated all of the winners:

‘What a privilege it is to hear these wonderful accounts of the bravery, professionalism and dedication of the people who have received their awards today and of course the people in the teams that they work for. The Ambulance Service Institute does a good job in recognising, each year, people who have done more than just the normal 9–5 role that so many people regard as work. I just want to say, on behalf of those of us in the public…thank you very much to all of you, and your colleagues who aren’t here today, for what you have done, and many many congratulations to those of you who are award winners here today.’

Speaking to the Journal of Paramedic Practice after the event, Dr Peter Griffin, president of the ASI, said:

‘This is the fifth year we have done the awards at the House of Lords. We started at that end [House of Commons] in 2002 and moved to this end in 2010. We did quite well this year. We had some pretty good nominations. We didn’t have quite as many as last year but I think they were of similar quality.’

Speaking of the awards, Dr Anthony Marsh, chief executive officer of both East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust and West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, and chairman of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, said:

‘These are staff who are doing a wonderful job for patients day in, day out and I’m so proud of them. That the ASI are recognising their efforts in this way is testament to their dedication to what they do, and it’s staff like this who help the ambulance service put the very best it can into delivering high-quality patient care for the region.’

Taken from Journal of Paramedic Practice, published 3 July 2015.