Spotlight on South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT)

Ambulance services are a key part of the NHS, responding to 999 calls when members of your local community need help in an emergency. The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) manages around one million incidents every year. We deliver care to patients with a wide range of illnesses and injuries; in some cases our help can mean the difference between life and death. 

People dial 999 when they or someone else is desperately ill or injured and they are in the direst need. They call us when minutes matter.

SWASFT is responsible for the provision of ambulance services across an area of 10,000 square miles which is 20% of mainland England. The operational area is predominantly rural but also includes large urban centres including Bristol, Plymouth, Exeter, Bath, Swindon, Gloucester, Bournemouth and Poole. The Trust serves a population of over 5.7 million, many of which are aging, and is estimated to receive an influx of over 23 million visitors each year.

Our core operations focus is the delivery of emergency ambulance 999 services (A&E) and we have 92 ambulance stations (7 in Wiltshire), two Emergency Operations Centres, and two Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART).

As a Category One responder under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 we are required to ensure we meet our statutory duties outlined in the within the CCA (explained further here). A large part of the way we understand our duties is through our Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response (EPRR) team. Collectively the EPRR team undertake collaborative working, multi-agency working and the development of new capabilities and initiatives to ensure our staff are adequately prepared to manage a response through challenging circumstances.

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As well as this, our EPRR team are responsible for the effective delivery of emergency planning, training, and exercising to ensure that we as a Trust are ready to respond to a major, critical or business continuity incident in a way that is patient focused, clinically led and effectively managed. The team also consider safety at public events and sports stadia through Safety Advisory Groups ensuring that any planning compliments our own and any events have as little impact as possible on our ability to provide a high level of service to our patients.

Another key part of our work which is ensuring with are compliant with the NHS Core Standards for Emergency Preparedness, Resilience and Response including standards for the interoperable capabilities. This ensures that as an NHS organisation we have a common approach to EPRR, allowing for co-ordination of EPRR activities according to the Trusts scope and challenges and ultimately informs our EPRR work programme by identifying priorities, key risks, and areas to develop. 

Within Wiltshire and Swindon there is a dedicated EPRR Officer who is the local link with the Local Resilience Forum (LRF) and local partner agencies for all things EPRR related, they are very much the face of SWASFT in the multiagency environment!

The local working and formation of partnerships is crucial during the response to any incident whether large or small so the pre-planning, training, exercising and collaboration that goes on within the LRF helps builds these relationships and builds trust across partner agencies as well as providing an understanding of our capabilities and also our limitations.

Most recently the Trust has undertaken a large-scale live exercise called Exercise RAVEON which tested elements of the Trusts Incident Response Plan while attending an unlicensed music event where a scaffolding rig had collapsed and caused 40 people to be injured. There was multiagency play from Police and the Fire and Rescue Service and also from a number of different areas of the Trust including our front-line ambulance crews, our Critical Care teams from our Air Ambulances, our control room staff in our Emergency Operations Centres, and also our Hazardous Area Response Team. 

Whilst the incident did not take place within Wiltshire, several lessons were identified which has allowed us to develop and refine our plans for incidents that may take place in the Wiltshire and Swindon area or other areas of the Trust. 

If you have any questions regarding EPRR and our involvement as an ambulance service, please contact eprr.wiltshire@swast.nhs.uk

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