14 March 2014 - NWAS Teams up with fellow Ambulance Services to Help the People of Somerset

At times of adversity, the British population pulls together.  It was no different for the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) and eight of the UKs ambulance services recently, when South Western Ambulance Service requested mutual aid, to help deal with the extraordinary scenes on the Somerset Levels.

Earlier this month, NWAS joined forces with eight ambulance services across the UK and provided two Hazardous Area Response Team paramedics (HART) 24 hours-a-day to assist South Western Ambulance Service (SWAS), when an area of around 25 square miles flooded and left local communities cut off in Somerset. 

HART are trained to operate in challenging conditions such as hazardous environments, collapsed buildings, chemical incidents, fires, working at height or in fast flowing water, in order to ensure patients in such environments can be reached and receive the medical treatment they need.

Paul Kudray, Director of Resilience for the North West Ambulance Service said: "We are grateful to the NWAS staff who were able to be part of the mutual aid arrangements which helped us support the national response.  Mutual aid requirements and the ability to share staff, resources and equipment are critical as part of interoperability between the emergency services. Flooding is an example of the type of situation where we can work together and support other national colleagues."

Chris Chambers, Head of Emergency
Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) at South Western Ambulance Service commented: "This national mutual aid has provided a very significant assistance to the team, ensuring that we could continue through the extended period of this operation. After 10 days of assistance (3 to 13 March), the mutual aid has been stood down now that the flood waters have started to recede."

Martin Flaherty, Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives added: "This is an excellent example of the way ambulance services work together to help each other out in order to maintain the very highest levels of patient care.

"Within hours of the request being made, staff were en route to the South West using national assets so that local services would not be affected.  The whole operation was co-ordinated at the National Ambulance Coordination Centre (NACC) which is based at London Ambulance Service Headquarters.

"Because all of the HART teams are trained nationally and use standard equipment, it made no difference whether the HART paramedics came from Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Norwich or anywhere in between.

"For many of the staff, it was the first time that they had been able to put their training to the test and this been of great benefit to all of the Trusts involved.  We will be debriefing the staff to see if we need to make any changes to the training so that we can take the service we provide to patients to an even higher standard."