24 December 2015 - Letter to Cumbria

Dear Cumbrians,

You don’t need us to tell you it has been a challenging time for a large number of you.

During what is normally a time of joy and celebration, you have been picking up the pieces after the devastating floods which have hit the county.

Being on the frontline, we have seen first hand your remarkable resilience and determination and the kindness and generosity you have shown to our staff – many of whom have also been affected personally by the events.

The operational area of the North West Ambulance Service covers the five counties of Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire and of course Cumbria. We have been stuck by the collective empathy and admiration from the public across our region for the people of Cumbria, your resilience, determination and “we will not be beaten” attitude is a source of great inspiration to all. We thought we needed to tell you that.

We have witnessed in the media the tears and despair but also the strength and resolve to get back on your feet and restore your homes and businesses as quickly as possible. For this we admire you and would like you to know that as part of your community, we will be there for you.

Community First Responders (CFRs) play a vital role in our Service and are volunteers who attend emergencies to assist patients while the ambulance is on its way. Cumbria has the largest number of volunteers in the North West and on the nights of the floods, we were overwhelmed with offers from them to log on and respond to patients that were temporarily out of reach for us. We heard of our own staff, Cumbrian residents themselves, who waded through water to reach ambulances so they could maintain an emergency service. There is no doubt that lives were saved because of their actions.

We have also been greatly assisted by Mountain Rescue teams from throughout the North West but special thanks must go to Langdale Ambleside Mountain Rescue team, who allowed the Trust to take residence in their base after our own station was flooded.  Also made up of volunteers, these teams worked round the clock alongside ourselves, Police and the Fire Service to reach patients and assist our staff.

Our staff have informed us of your generosity in terms of much welcomed refreshments – a hot drink on a cold wet night is the perfect tonic and those simple acts of kindness went a long way to making a difficult night more bearable. Our thanks also to the Sunny Hill pub in Whitehaven, which is opening specially on Christmas day just to provide our staff with a festive meal.

NWAS’ social media sites have received many messages of support from grateful residents and we’re very humbled by the support. We encouraged our staff to have a look for themselves and see the comments – many of which were sent at the height of the floods.

We know you still have a lot to overcome. We are continuously monitoring weather forecasts and plan where and when we believe we will need ambulance resources the most. As we know, however, the weather is a law unto itself and even with the best planning, the unexpected can happen.

Despite the situation you find yourselves in currently, all of us at NWAS hope you manage to enjoy Christmas and spend time with your families and friends. We wish you good health, happiness and success in the New Year.

Yours sincerely

The Board, Managers and Staff of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust