Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Service with a Smile

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Service with a Smile

Article excerpt

Byline: By Emily Durham

Without sirens and flashing lights they may not be so easy to spot, but the North East Ambulance Service's patient transport vehicles are a vital part of emergency care. Emily Durham reports

Sometimes an ambulance will arrive at the scene of an incident before anyone has had a chance to call 999.

Steve Bridge and John Dodds were travelling back to Tynemouth ambulance station when they spotted a man who had collapsed and looked semi-conscious at the side of the road.

John immediately pulls over in a patient transport ambulance and Steve jumps out, checks the man's responses, airways and breathing and then places him in the recovery position.

The police arrive and John phones through to the A&E control room as Steve continues to monitor the condition of the patient before a rapid-response paramedic pulls up moments later and the patient is taken to hospital in an A&E ambulance.

This has been an extraordinary end to what has been a successful day for Steve, 39, and John, 61, who are both ambulance care assistants employed by the North East Ambulance Service's patient transport service (PTS).

PTS crews not only transport and escort patients to and from hospital, they are trained in first-aid skills and act as "first responders" on the scene of incidents.

John said: "We don't often get to put our first-aid skills into practice, maybe once or twice a year. But if a patient takes a turn for the worse while on route, we are able and ready to offer them basic life support and make them as comfortable as possible before an A&E crew arrives.

"The first response we provide can often mean the difference between life and death. If someone's having a fit we've got the basic skills to stop them choking to death."

John, from Blyth, has worked on the PTS for six years. He said: "When I retired I wanted to do something worthwhile with very little stress. Everyday I get to meet people, drive round a beautiful part of the world while helping those who can't get to and from hospital." His partner on the road is Steve, who also lives in Blyth but comes originally from Stockport. His strong Mancunian accent and cheeky North West banter seems to attract a lot of attention from the patients.

As John drives the six-seat ambulance between patients' homes, Steve greets each one at their door and helps them on to the back of the vehicle.

"Would you like a fireman's lift today?" Steve jokingly asks the second patient of the day before catching up on last night's TV with them.

The pair started their shift from Tynemouth ambulance station, where they checked over the vehicle and looked through their itinerary for the day.

The North East Ambulance Service plans about 78,448 routine and non-emergency patient journeys each month. …

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