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Wales Air Ambulance

Pembrokeshire dad-of-three thanks emergency services that helped save his life

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A Pembrokeshire dad-of-three has thanked the emergency services that helped save his life.

In February, Dai Davies was getting ready for bed when he suddenly collapsed and had a cardiac arrest.

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Dai’s wife Taryan and son Caleb, 18, helped save his life as they performed CPR on Dai whilst waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

When the paramedics arrived, Dai’s heart was in an abnormal rhythm and not beating normally.

The paramedics took over resuscitation, delivered two shocks and the second shock brought his heart back into a normal rhythm.

When the Wales Air Ambulance Charity helicopter arrived with its overnight critical care team – Dr Matt O’Meara, Critical Care Practitioner Marc Allen and pilot Nobby Norris – Dai started to come around and became agitated and wasn’t breathing effectively.

They rapidly assessed him and found his oxygen levels were low and needed to take over his breathing.

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To do this they gave him a general anaesthetic and then placed him on a ventilator to breathe for him.

The procedure is delicate, complex and time-critical.

It is only possible outside of a hospital environment through the Wales Air Ambulance and the fact that they have experienced consultants on board.

It is one of the many emergency department-standard treatments that the Charity is now able to deliver at the scene of an incident – improving the chances of survival and recovery.

Once the on-scene treatment was complete, Dai was airlifted directly to the cardiac centre at Morriston Hospital in Swansea.

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The flight from his home in Neyland to hospital took just 25 minutes by air, a journey that would have taken approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes by road.

Speaking of the lifesaving service, Dai said: “I am forever grateful to the ambulance service and the Wales Air Ambulance for the work they did and to get me to the hospital as quickly as they did.

“I really appreciate everything they’ve done for me. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be here.”

The father-of-three was a keen runner and cyclist before he was taken ill, reflecting on whether there were any signs that could have indicated a potential problem, Dai said: “I had a pain in my back whilst I was refereeing a match about five years ago.

“I had MRI scans and physiotherapy and continued to live with the on-off pain.

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“Since it happened, I’ve been reading up on cardiac arrests and these symptoms were a big indicator.”

The learning support assistant, at Haverfordwest High School, underwent surgery to have three stents put in and was discharged from hospital a few days later.

He said: “I’m feeling okay. I’ve had three stents put in, lost 10 kilograms in weight through cardiac rehab and cut out all the nice things.

“My wife has also bought me a new peloton bike to continue my fitness at home.

“My children, Chloe, Caleb and Aidan, all notice a change in me since the cardiac arrest, they think I’m more placid now.”

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Throughout his recovery Dai recieved expert guidance and help by having personal training from cardiac rehabilitation instructor Dave Braithwaite.

Dai is now looking forward to the future.

Jo Yeoman is a patient liaison nurse who works in partnership with the Wales Air Ambulance Charity.

She said: “We are delighted to see that Dai is on the road to recovery.

“Dai’s story demonstrates the vital chain of survival, from CPR, defibrillation and then critical care.

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“Taryan and Caleb were incredible and the partnership work between the Wales Air Ambulance and Welsh Ambulance Service medics ensured that Dai had the best possible care before reaching the specialists at Morriston Hospital.

“The Wales Air Ambulance Charity introduced an overnight helicopter in December 2020, making it a 24/7 service.

“The Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to maintain the 24/7 operation and Dai’s story highlights the importance of having an air ambulance service that runs during the night as well as the day.”

Christian Newman, the Welsh Ambulance Service’s Locality Manager in Pembrokeshire, said: “In a cardiac arrest, every second counts, and the CPR started by Dai’s wife and son gave him the best possible chance of survival.

“Our joint efforts with Wales Air Ambulance colleagues, and later the care that Dai had from the specialists at Morriston Hospital, just goes to show how important partnership working is to a patient’s care.

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“We wish Dai all the very best on his continued recovery.”

(Lead image: Welsh Ambulance Trust)

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Charity

Mayor of Llandovery raises over £2k for air ambulance after surviving freak cycling accident

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The Mayor of Llandovery in Carmarthenshire has raised over £2,000 for Wales Air Ambulance after surviving a freak cycling accident that left him unconscious at the side of the road and saw TWO air ambulances sent to his aid.

Mayor Handel Davies and his wife Margaret raised £2,280 during the annual Mayors Charity Ball.

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The successful ball, which included an auction of rugby related paraphernalia and a raffle, also raised funds for Llandovery Hospital League of Friends.

Over 110 guests enjoyed an evening of entertainment, which included ‘an excellent address’ from Wales Air Ambulance chair of trustees David Gilbert. Over £4,500 was raised during the evening for the two good causes.

The Mayor and Mayoress presented the cheque to David Gilbert at a recent base visit at the Wales Air Ambulance’s headquarters in Llanelli.

The mayor has had personal experience of the essential service the Wales Air Ambulance provides after the Charity’s medics were called out to him during the pandemic.

Handel was involved in a freak accident when a dog ran out in front of him whilst out cycling. He was knocked unconscious for 15 minutes and despite two air ambulances being called out to him, luckily for Handel he didn’t need to be airlifted to hospital.

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Mr Davies said: “A sheepdog literally appeared from nowhere at full speed in the blink of an eye hitting the front wheel of my bike at right angles causing me to fall immediately. It happened so quickly I do not remember hitting the road, but the eyewitness commented that had I not been wearing a helmet I would not have survived. The shattered interior of the helmet is evidence of this.

“It took 6-9 months to really recover and get over the impact, which following another serious cycling accident when I was 18, has led me to decide to ‘hang up’ my bicycle and instead attend ‘spin classes’ at the local leisure centre.”

A cheque for £2,280 was presented to Wales Air Ambulance by Mayor of Llandovery, Cllr Handel Davies

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep its emergency helicopters in the air and its rapid response vehicles on the road.

The 24/7 emergency service offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’. The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world. They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care. 

Reflecting on why the 24/7 Charity was chosen to benefit from the Mayor’s charity Ball, he added: “I have the utmost respect for the incredible and invaluable work the Wales Air Ambulance undertake and as we live in a beautiful part of north Carmarthenshire next to road which is very popular with both cyclists and motor bikers, over the last 25 years we have seen many accidents along this stretch of the A4069 particularly at weekends.

“It seems that almost every weekend during the summer months a Wales Air Ambulance flies overhead to attend to an incident.”

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Jane Griffiths Wales Air Ambulance’s Community Fundraising Manager said: “It was lovely to meet the Mayor and Mayoress of Llandovery during their recent base visit. They’ve raised a fantastic amount for two important causes and we’re extremely grateful for them choosing the Wales Air Ambulance as one of the charities to benefit from the Mayors Charity Ball.

“It’s lovely to hear that the mayor has recovered from his freak accident, and we wish him well for the future. Your support of our lifesaving Charity is much appreciated and will help us to continue to be there for the people of Wales when they need us most.”

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Swansea Bay NHS

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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7 year-old Penllergaer schoolboy starts year-long fundraising challenge for Wales Air Ambulance

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A seven-year-old Penllergaer schoolboy has started a year-long walking challenge for the Wales Air Ambulance after being inspired by a child who was honoured with a British Empire Medal from the Queen.

On New Year’s Day Rhys Gough, was watching the morning headlines when it shared the story of eleven-year-old Tobias Weller, who was the youngest child to receive a commendation from the Queen.

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Rhys’ proud mum Kirsty said: “Rhys was fascinated and asked lots of questions in relation to fundraising. He was also very keen to meet the Queen! He asked if he could do something similar to raise money for charity.

“We decided that we would attempt to walk the equivalent of 2km per day for the whole of 2022. Our house is on the flight path from Morriston Hospital, so we often see the Wales Air Ambulance. I suggested raising for Charity and Rhys was amazed at how much money it costs to keep this service going.”

Now operational 24/7, the Charity needs to raise £8 million every year to keep the helicopters flying.

Rhys Gough

Wales Air Ambulance offers advanced critical care and is often described as a ‘Flying ED’. The on-board consultants and critical care practitioners are highly skilled and carry some of the most pioneering medical equipment in the world.

They can deliver blood transfusions, administer anaesthesia, and undertake emergency operations at the scene of the incident, before flying the patient directly to specialist care.

This is the first time that the Pontillw Primary School pupil has done a fundraiser and has so-far raised £380 of his £500 target for the lifesaving cahrity. Rhys wears a smart watch to track his daily activity.

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Along with walking Rhys, also gets his steps in through playing rugby, but the majority of the time they take the dog out for a walk in the evenings and on weekends, which easily covers his 2km a day.

Kirsty, added: “On rainy days though he does need some encouragement but in the whole is enjoying the challenge. His friends and family have been really proud of Rhys for doing this for charity.

“At the end of February Rhys has walked a total of 290.44km this year which includes day to day steps! He is so proud of this achievement so far.”

James Cordell, Wales Air Ambulance’s community fundraiser, said: “Thank you to Rhys for taking on the huge challenge of walking every day for a whole year to raise funds for the Wales Air Ambulance. Despite his young age, he’s passionate and determined to complete the challenge to help others.

“Fundraisers like, Rhys’ will help our medics continue to be there for the people of Wales 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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You can show your support to Rhys by donating to his fundraiser via his Just Giving page ‘Rhys walking challenge for 2022

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