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Welsh Ambulance Trust

Lifesaving programme given cash boost to keep going by Welsh Government

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A lifesaving programme to help improve survival rates after a cardiac arrest is being supported with almost £2.5m over the next three years by the Welsh Government.

The funding will enable Save a Life Cymru to raise awareness about the cardiac arrest chain of survival and fund new educational and training resources, including improving public access to defibrillators.

The programme aims to educate people in Wales about the need to help anyone suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and help develop their skills and confidence to provide CPR and defibrillation.

It comes as figures show Wales has one of the lowest survival rates in Europe and the lowest in the UK if someone suffers an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest – a survival rate of just 4.6% in Wales, this is less than half that of England (9.4%); lower than Scotland (10.2%); Norway (25%) and the Netherlands (21%).

Health Minister Eluned Morgan 

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “It is vital we educate people about what to do when someone suffers a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting. By raising awareness of the basic skills needed to carry out CPR and use a defibrillator, we can make a significant difference to survival rates.

“This funding will help communities to work with Save a Life Cymru and the Welsh Ambulance Service to improve the provision and maintenance of defibrillators and to improve the skills to help save lives.

 “We are proud to be funding this programme, which will link with schools, local businesses, community and town councils, sports clubs and academies across Wales, and hope it will benefit future generations to come.”

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Sudden cardiac arrest is a public health challenge that needs resources to educate and inform people about how they can help someone in need. It is estimated 6,000 people have an out-of-hospital cardia arrest in Wales each year

It is hoped that education about the dangers of cardiac arrest and providing people with CPR and defibrillation training will lead to better health outcomes and survival rates.

The funding will enable Save a Life Cymru to carry out the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Plan. It will also feature partnership initiatives with Cardiff University, Home Builder’s Federation and the Football Association of Wales.

Prof Len Nokes, who is Chair of the SALC Partnership, club doctor for Cardiff City F.C and pitch doctor for the Football Association of Wales, said:

“I am delighted that Welsh Government are supporting Save a Life Cymru to continue to deliver on the Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Plan.

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“As we have recently seen at Euro 2020, anyone can have a cardiac arrest. Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch and he owes his life to his team mates and the medical team who performed CPR and used a defibrillator to save his life.

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“Not everyone will have a medical team close at hand when they have a cardiac arrest and therefore our aim at Save a Life Cymru is to inspire everyone in Wales to learn CPR and defibrillation skills to help save more lives.”

“This Welsh Government funding will help us to work with communities across Wales. Lives can be saved, but we need people that are willing and able to help.”

The funding will also expand the provision of officers trained to work with communities to boost the provision and maintenance of defibrillators across Wales, similar to the charity funded defibrillator support officer for North Wales who is based within the Welsh Ambulance Service.

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Swansea

Premature baby doing well thanks to emergency crews and hospital staff

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A young Swansea couple whose son was born prematurely at around 30 weeks have been reunited with some of the emergency crews who helped safeguard the child and swiftly get them the care they needed.

Since the birth of their son Hunter in November, Jenna Cullen and partner Jack Harris, both 28, experienced several traumatic months with Hunter spending time in a specialist neonatal care unit at Singleton Hospital, Swansea.

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At birth, Hunter weighed just 700g, but now safely back home together in Swansea and with Hunter weighing a fantastic 9lbs, the proud parents have reached out to tell their story and highlight the work of the Welsh Ambulance Service and the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer team who attended them.

Jenna, who works for the DVLA, said: “Everything was fairly normal until around 20 weeks when I lost a lot of water, and after a scan they put me on weekly monitoring.

“At my 25+3 week scan, I was told the water had increased and that things were fairly normal.

“A week after that, I started suffering back pains but put this down to Hunter lying on my back.

“It eased by the following day but came back with a vengeance the next night, so we popped to the hospital who said I was not in labour and I may have slept awkwardly and we went back home.

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“Six hours later, Hunter was born.”

Due to the early arrival, Hunter had not yet turned as most full-term babies would so was born feet-first which can carry extra dangers.

Jenny with her baby, Hunter (Image: Wales Ambulance Service)

Jenna said: “I didn’t know what contractions felt like but I was in a lot of pain and by the time Jack had phoned 999 Hunter was almost here.

“I wrapped him in a towel and cleared his airways and got a little cry.

“I just kept him wrapped up warm and checked on him but he was quiet.

“I thought he was dead.”

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It was then that Senior Paramedic for the Welsh Ambulance Service, Dai Bowen from nearby Cwmbwrla Ambulance Station, arrived and began emergency care on Hunter.

“Dai was amazing,” said Jenna.

“He came in and straight away began giving oxygen and he cut the cord for us also.

“I helped with the oxygen as Dai placed equipment upon hunter to monitor him.

“Without Dai and the other crew members, I don’t think my son would be here now.

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“They definitely saved his life.”

Dai, 46, also from Swansea, had only minutes earlier begun his shift.

He said: “I’d booked on at six and checked my vehicle when I got my first job or ‘detail’ as we call it around 20 past down in Port Tennant.

“Control told me a young mother had given birth to a very premature baby.

“I was on my own in the rapid response vehicle so requested support and back-up as I knew we’d need an ambulance to get the baby to hospital.”

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Jack, Jenna and Hunter (Image: Wales Ambulance Service)

The control room were able to release an ambulance from nearby Merthyr to assist Dai due to the dangerous nature of such a young child being born.

Dai said: “I was greeted at the door by dad who was obviously very distressed, but with my 20 years in the ambulance service I was able to talk to him quickly and calmly and get him to show me to his partner.

“Jenna was so calm, bless her, and already had the baby in her arms – I thought the baby may have been stillborn.

“I quickly checked she was alright and then began to look at the little man.

“He was so premature and was very susceptible to losing heat and picking up infections.

“But then, I saw his little chest move and he took a breath on his own.

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“That was it, action stations.”

Dai took the baby and made a resuscitation area in the couple’s lounge where he began working on Hunter and connecting him up to the monitoring equipment.

He said: “Hunter was making minimal effort, but we are lucky as we have great paediatric equipment and on this job it all worked really well.

“He was still very cold despite the warming mattresses we had on him and I just continued to keep him warm and monitor his levels.”

A Welsh Ambulance crew of Robert Shannon and David Griffiths soon arrived to support Dai.

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The Wales Air Ambulance charity’s road division known as the Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS), also attended the scene from their base at Dafen to help deliver the critical care and advice that was so valuable to Hunter, providing things such as heat pads to keep his body temperature up during transfer to hospital.

Baby Hunter (Image: Wales Ambulance Service)

On duty for EMRTS that day were Dr Jon Baily, Critical Care Practitioner Dewi Thomas and Helicopter Transfer Practitioner Jez James.

Jo Yeoman, Wales Air Ambulance Patient Liaison Nurse, said: “Our crew arrived with specialist neonatal equipment and made a rapid assessment while keeping baby Hunter warm.

“Premature babies are at high risk of a declining body temperature so they placed him in a special wrapping specifically designed to keep premature babies warm, covered him with a heated blanket and put a hat on his head to prevent heat-loss.

“They then attached him to some neonatal monitoring to assess his vital signs and contacted the Specialist Neonatologist at Singleton Hospital to arrange for direct admission to the specialist unit rather than going through Accident and Emergency.

“We are delighted that Hunter is doing so well.”

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Call handler Emma Beynon picked up Jack’s 999 call at the Clinical Contact Centre in Carmarthen.

She said: “I’d been working a night shift and it was the last call before I was due to finish.

“It was quite traumatic as the baby was so premature.

“At the start of the call I thought it wasn’t going to be very good news.”

Emma, 36, from Narbeth and herself a mum of three girls, said: “I was supported by my manager Emma Colvin as it was only my second birth call – the first had come earlier that week.

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“We were giving birthing advice and I remember the caller shouting that the baby was out and it was only the size of his hand.

“We didn’t think the baby was going to be born so soon but it happened really quickly on the call.

“But most importantly the baby was breathing.

“The crew got there very quickly which was the saviour I think.

“It’s remained a call that has stuck in my mind and I’m so happy to find out that baby Hunter is doing really well along with mum.”

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The couple were able to spend a lot of time together at the hospital with Hunter thanks to a change in visiting restrictions.

Of the care Hunter received at Singleton’s intensive care unit and their special care nursery, Jenna said: “They were absolutely brilliant and nothing was too much.

“The staff and the consultant there were all so good.

“We’re lucky to have such good facilities here.”

(Lead image: Wales Ambulance Service Trust)

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Gower

Coastguard warning after emergency phone damaged in Three Cliffs hoax call

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Mumbles Coastguard have expressed their anger after a 999 emergency phone was damaged at a Gower beauty spot following a hoax call that saw dozens of emergency service personnel descend on the area.

The coastguard received a call from the Three Cliffs Bay emergency phone on Saturday evening (16 April) just before 5pm which was “abruptly cut off”.

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A second call was then made from a phone box in the area.

Describing the incident, a spokesperson from Mumbles Coastguard said: “The caller reported a person had fallen off a cliff in the area with a fatal outcome.

“On arrival the emergency phone was found damaged and out of service.

The damaged emergency phone (Image: Mumbles Coastguard)

“Several services were dispatched and a large search tasking undertaken with nothing found. With no further information or reports, this callout was assumed a hoax call and all assets stood down.

“This behaviour has cost thousands of both tax payer and volunteer funds as well has many hours of time on what has been an extremely busy bank holiday weekend (Mumbles 4th callout).”

“It has taken valuable resources away from important taskings, disrupted holiday makers, local businesses and the lives of our and our partner services families.”

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Rescue vessel at Three Cliffs Bay (Image: Mumbles RNLI)

The Coastguard reported emergency service workers from South Wales Police, Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Oxwich Coastguard Rescue Team, Horton and Port Eynon RNLI, RNLI Lifeguards, HM Coastguard and first responders from Welsh Ambulance Service were all involved in the incident.

The coastguard added that the emergency phone at Three Cliffs is now out of service until repairs can be made by the operator.

The spokesperson added: “We’d like to thank all those involved with this callout and again express our extreme disappointment in this behaviour.”

(Lead image: Mumbles Coastguard)

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Welsh Ambulance Trust

111 service now available across whole of Wales

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Urgent medical and health advice is now available across Wales 24 hours a day, seven days a week following the successful rollout of the 111 helpline.

The service, which is run by the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, and can be accessed online at 111.wales.nhs.uk or by telephone by calling 111, will give people up-to-date health advice and guidance on which NHS service is right for them.

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The NHS 111 Wales website includes more than 65 symptom checkers and information about local services, and should be everyone’s first port of call before making a phone call.

But if your health concern is urgent, call handlers on the 111 helpline can also help you get the right treatment at the right time and in the right place.

The service has now been rolled out to all seven health board areas in Wales including Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which came online last month.

Health Minister Eluned Morgan said: “Medical advice and information about accessing the right service at the right time is available for free across Wales.

“This fantastic service, supported by £15m of Welsh Government funding, will help people receive the most appropriate care for their health needs and will also help to ease pressure on our vital 999 service

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“Together with the NHS 111 Wales website, this easy to remember free phone service will make a real difference to our healthcare service in Wales.”

Richard Bowen, National Programme Director for 111 said: “Often within the NHS, access to urgent care services is really quite confusing.

“You don’t know what services are open when and, depending on your condition, you don’t know which healthcare professional would be the best person for you.

“The NHS 111 Wales website and free-to-call 111 number simplifies all of that, so from now on you only have to dial 111 and you will be signposted to one of a range of different options.

“We’re thrilled that this service is now available to everyone in Wales and I’d like to personally thank everyone involved. This is a significant milestone for NHS Wales and we intend to continue improving the service going forward.”

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Dr Stephen Bassett, National Clinical Advisor for 111, added: “Until now, people have had to use different numbers to contact different services, but 111 brings them together under one number.

“People calling 111 will firstly speak to a specially-trained call handler who will ask a series of questions.

“This will allow the service’s experienced healthcare professionals – nurses and, during evenings, weekends and bank holidays, GPs and pharmacists – to prioritise calls so the most seriously ill are treated first.

“Depending on the urgency of their condition, some people will get a call back from a nurse, doctor or pharmacist if they call out-of-hours.

“If they need to see a GP out-of-hours, 111 colleagues can arrange this.”

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Stephen Clinton, Assistant Director of Operations for the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, said: “There’s been a lot of great work over the past six years growing NHS 111 Wales and we’re very proud of what has been achieved.

“Our teams across Wales now help close to a million people each year with their urgent care needs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

(Lead image: Wales Ambulance Service Trust)

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