Meet the staff and volunteers being honoured on Emergency Services Day
- Credit: EEAST
Tomorrow marks the UK’s first Emergency Services Day.
Beginning at 9am – the 9th hour of the 9th day of the 9th month – the event aims to promote the work of the emergency services, honour personnel who lost their lives in the line of duty, teach life-saving skills and encourage people to volunteer.
Peter Nightingale has been a volunteer with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) for about four years.
As a Rotarian, the 64-year-old, of Framlingham, helped raise money to buy smoke alarms for distribution by the fire service.
He became a community volunteer after meeting members of the fire prevention unit at a cheque presentation event.
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“I also volunteer with other local organisations, and one of the pluses in being a community fire volunteer (CFV) is that I am not tied to specific days and can help when convenient,” he said.
“I carry out Safer Home visits, install smoke alarms, attend Rural Coffee Caravan events, man information stands at various events throughout the county, and have assisted at the Suffolk Show.
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“My main aim, when I decided to carry out volunteer work, was that it should be of tangible use. I certainly believe that this the case with SFRS.”
Call handler and aspiring paramedic Kieran Jopling, 23, from Saxmundham, has worked for the ambulance service for almost three years – entering the Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at Norwich this February.
The job requires him to triage emergency calls and take calls from healthcare professionals.
“I get a huge sense of achievement once I’ve helped someone in a crisis,” he said.
“The most challenging part of my job are uncooperative and abusive callers. It’s a daily occurrence to be called obscenities.
“I appreciate people are scared or worried, but we have to ask questions to get the most help for the patient.
“Second would be the sheer amount of pressure on the ambulance service. As call handlers, it’s to have a break between calls. It’s constant.
“I find the most rewarding part of the job is when somebody calls 999 in a frantic panic, and by the end of the call, they have calmed down and are having a conversation with you. I find helping deliver a baby equally rewarding.”
Duty locality officer and paramedic James Fisher, 36, from Ipswich, has worked for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) for 15 years.
From a young age, Mr Fisher was interested in first aid and having skills to help those in need.
Now a leading operations manager at Ipswich ambulance station, his job involves the day-to-day running of the service at a local level, ensuring resources are available to respond to 999 calls, liaising with local hospitals, staff welfare and support, and dealing with issues arising during a shift.
As a paramedic, Mr Fisher attends cardiac arrests, collisions, incidents requiring a number of resources and calls that could pose a risk to staff.
He said: “The most challenging part of my job is when, despite the best efforts of the team, a patient’s condition still deteriorates and the outcome is beyond our control.
“This is, of course, difficult for the patient’s relatives, but it can also have an impact on us as we are, naturally, caring people.
“It is really important to remember the positive aspects of our jobs and the hundreds of patients we come into contact with each year, who are grateful for our assistance.
“For me, the most rewarding part of my job is knowing that my colleagues and I have had a positive impact on a person’s life.”
Amanda Park, 27, lives on the Norfolk border and has worked at Suffolk police contact and control room for almost four years.
The former special constable now handles 101 or 999 calls on a two-day, two-late, two-night shift pattern, with four rest days.
Although Miss Park handles an average of 30-40 calls per shift, no two working days are the same.
“One minute, I could be taking a call about a shed being broken into, the next it could be something a lot more serious that needs to be treated with real sensitivity,” she said.
“My pulse was racing a bit on my first shift, but my confidence grew with experience of a variety of incidents.
“The nature of the job is that we don’t generally get to see things through to the end, unless someone remains on the phone until police arrive.
“You have to expect the unexpected. If you like strict routine, it’s probably not the job for you.”
•To mark Emergency Services Day, blue light chiefs signed a joint letter thanking those keeping the county safe.
Fire chief Mark Hardingham, outgoing ambulance chief Robert Morton and chief constable Gareth Wilson gave special thanks to volunteers – from fundraisers to cadet leaders, first responders to ‘safer home’ visitors, event organisers and translators. A behind-the-scenes network includes people supporting local stations, control room staff, education teams and administrative staff, while specialist services include the RNLI, coastguard and Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue.
To volunteer with the emergency services, visit volunteersuffolk.org.uk
On Sunday, crews will share advice on social media about how the public can assist their daily work. A senior ambulance call handler will take over the service Twitter account @EastEnglandAmb.
The trust is currently recruiting more call handlers. Visit eastamb.nhs.uk/join-the-team/call-handler.htm.