January 2014 - #Team999 introduces Paul: Dispatching NWAS care in Preston


North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) sends out its emergency resources 4,805 times a Paul EMDday, on average. It's the role of Resource Dispatchers, such as Paul Walmsley, to decide which resource should be sent to each incident - and it's not always an emergency ambulance.

This month, Paul is being profiled by the NWAS' #Team999 campaign, which aims to show people what to expect when they call 999 and the care options available; for example, calling 999 does not necessarily mean receiving an ambulance or being taken to hospital.

There are 33 Resource Dispatchers on shift at any one time in the North West. They each oversee a geographical area and have a range of vehicles and crews at their disposal, including Emergency Ambulances, Rapid Response Vehicles, Air Ambulances, Cycle Response Units, Community First Responders and the Hazardous Area Response Team.

Paul, who is based at the Emergency Operations Centre in Broughton, Preston, said: "My job requires a great deal of strategic thinking and the ability to make decisions quickly and calmly. It can get very busy, for example sometimes there are more than 20 vehicles or crews under my control. I have to decide which of these should be sent to each incident depending on its location and severity.

"Once I've selected the right response for the patient, I use the latest technology to help me plot the quickest route. I'm also in charge of making sure all the crews in my area get their meals breaks, which is extremely important to keep them feeling refreshed and focused. It is demanding work, but very fulfilling."

Paul, like all NWAS Resource Dispatchers, had to work as an Emergency Medical Dispatcher (EMD) for at least six months before applying for the role. He found that he worked well under pressure and enjoyed gaining an extensive knowledge of the phone triaging system.

He decided he wanted to move on to the Resource Dispatcher role so he could be in direct contact with the crews who are out saving lives on a daily basis.

Paul was keen to be part of the #Team999 campaign to give the public an insight into how the 999 process works and he enjoys explaining all the different emergency responses to his friends and family.

He said: "The best advice I have for anyone calling the ambulance service is to keep calm, listen to the call handler's questions and do as they ask. This makes it much easier for us to arrange help for the patient."

"However, it's also important to remember that we don't always send out ambulances. It may be more appropriate for the patient to go to their GP, visit a walk-in centre, take alternative transportation to hospital or seek advice from NHS 111. Arriving at a hospital in an ambulance does not mean you'll be seen any faster than if you'd travelled there yourself."

The remaining #Team999 representatives will be profiled this month through Q&A sessions, social media takeovers, roadshows, short films and a range of other activities to further increase public awareness.