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Family demand answers from NHS after woman dies at home

The family of a great-grandmother from Kent who fell over at home and later died, say they feel let down by the NHS. Christina Segan dialled 999 when her mum became ill but was told an ambulance would not be sent. An out-of-hours doctor was then called and visited, prescribing pain killers. But a few hours later, Daphne Huckstepp died from a heart attack. Tom Savvides has been talking to the family.

Ambulance service posts its Christmas wish list

Winter & the festive season means a busy time for ambulance service Credit: South East Coast Ambulance Service

With the festive season approaching, people are being reminded to only dial 999 when it's absolutely necessary.

South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) says it will receive many calls this Christmas, and most won't be an emergency.

It's suggesting people should drink sensibly, look out for vulnerable neighbours and make sure the turkey's cooked properly.

People can help us by following our simple advice and remembering that there are a number of ways in which they can seek help rather than dialling 999 when it’s not an emergency – be that via their GP, local pharmacist or by calling 111."

– Andy Cashman, Head of Resilience & Specialist Operations, SECAmb

SECAmb's Christmas wish list:

  • Stock up on your medicines cabinet as well as the Christmas chocolates - cold remedies, pain killers, indigestion tablets, diarrhoea or constipation remedies and plasters are useful to have in the home all year round
  • Order any repeat prescriptions you or your friends and family need
  • If drinking alcohol - have fun but be sensible and look out for others you're with
  • Excess alcohol consumption on its own isn't usually a reason to dial 999 for someone but if there's another complaint causing concern or someone loses consciousness then dial 999 without delay
  • Please remember 999 is for emergencies - if it's not an emergency and you need health advice then you have a number of options including calling 111, making an appointment with your GP or visiting your pharmacist
  • If you're in an at risk group - don't forget it's not too late to book a flu jab
  • Look out for any vulnerable friends and neighbours - what could you do to make their Christmas and New Year safer?
  • Take extra care if it's icy or wet. If driving keep your distance and drive to the road conditions
  • Wear layers as they keep you warmer than one thicker layer. They can also easily be removed as you warm up
  • Keep homes at the right temperature - ideally 18-21 degrees
  • If you're in charge in the kitchen, make sure you don't serve up undercooked turkey which can cause salmonella poisoning


'Guardian Angel' paramedic honoured

A London Ambulance Service paramedic dubbed a "guardian angel" for bringing a man back to life while on a family holiday in Brighton has been honoured with an award.

Mel Armstrong was on Brighton Pier with her husband and two children on New Year's Eve when she saw a man collapse at the slot machines.

The 34-year-old said: "I heard a loud bang and I turned around and there was a man slumped against a machine. As I looked down, I could tell instantly he was about to stop breathing. I did CPR and after a few minutes managed to get a pulse back."

Mel cared for the patient, Brian Smith, until an ambulance crew arrived and took him to hospital, leaving Mel not knowing if he had lived or died.

But Brian's nephew Mark House, who happens to work as a clinical team leader for the ambulance service, got in touch with Mel after he learned what happened. Mel, who was given a London Ambulance Service VIP Award for her action, has since met with Brian and his family and they have become firm friends. They plan to meet back on the pier this New Year's Eve to celebrate Brian's recovery.

Brian, 72, from Cheam in Surrey, said: "We normally go down to Brighton pier on New Year's Eve as a family. We got to the slot machines and someone turned the lights out on me and I went down like a sack of potatoes."

The grandfather-of-five, added: "If it hadn't been for Mel, I wouldn't be sitting here. She's my guardian angel. It was my lucky day that she was there. She didn't have to do what she did - she could have walked on, but she stepped up to the plate."

Mel, who has worked for the service for 12 years, added: "There were hundreds of people watching what was going on and as I left quite a few said 'well done' and shook my hand. I believe I was meant to be there that day and since meeting Brian, we just clicked and have formed a strong bond."

Simbulance puts trainee paramedics through their paces and hones their life-saving skills

Paramedics have to make split second decisions to save lives. So it's important their training is as realistic as possible. Now, a specially-modified ambulance is being used here in the South East to simulate emergencies. Malcolm Shaw spoke to Student Nurse Amelia Poree, and Alex Ritchie, Clinical Simulation Technician.

Ambulance technician in hospital after assault during emergency call

The victim was responding to an emergency call Credit: Meridian

An ambulance technician is still in hospital after being assaulted by a patient in Southampton.

The victim, who was responding to an emergency call on behalf of the South Central Ambulance Service, was assaulted at the junction of Milton Road and Holt Road.

The suspect fled the scene and the victim was taken to a hospital with a head injury, the spokesman said.

A 26-year-old man from Southampton was arrested on suspicion of assault and has been bailed until February 12, pending further inquiries.

Ambulance service to reduce fuel costs

The dynamic control will mean a vehicle's speed is restricted when it's not on an emergency. The fleet covers around 17 million miles across Surrey and Sussex each year. It's using a new system which limits a vehicle to sixty two miles an hour.

South East Coast Ambulance Service Credit: ITV News Meridian

"The decision to install this system on our operational vehicles will significantly reduce their fuel consumption and save public money.

In addition, given the huge number of miles our vehicles cover, we know we have a duty to take our responsibility to the environment very seriously.

This move is just one way which we can, to an extent, limit our impact as an organisation on the environment at the same time as making savings, which can be reinvested into patient care."

– Justin Wand - Head of Fleet


Lessons to be learnt from massive emergency exercise

Emergency services in Brighton were put to the test today. An explosion was staged at a disused army barracks to see how police, fire and ambulance crews would respond.

Around 200 volunteers took part with other incidents staged across Sussex.

Andy Dickenson reports and speaks to Insp Tony Lumb from Sussex Police and Mark Rist from East Sussex fire and Rescue.

South's paramedics the first to use solar power

Solar panels fitted to one of the Rapid Response Vehicles Credit: SCAS

Ambulances in the south have become the first in the country to use solar panels.

South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has installed the energy producing cells on 36 of its Rapid Response Vehicles (RRVs).

They supply power to the secondary battery system that powers all emergency equipment onboard.

Green Team Co-ordinator Brian Miller said: "We are taking the initiative to reduce fuel consumption, fuel and battery replacement costs, the Trust’s carbon footprint and the need for RRVs to return to base and traditional shoreline systems to recharge vehicle batteries."

Man injured in ambulance collision

A man suffered minor injuries with cuts to his face after a collision between a car and an ambulance in Hove.

Sussex Police said they understood the ambulance was on an emergency call.

The incident happened at about 11.10pm on 6th March 2013 on Old Shoreham Road, Hove at the junction with The Drive and Shirley Drive.

The ambulance left the road and collided with an electrical control box.

Last week, a 45-year-old man died after his car collided with an ambulance on Marine Drive, outside Roedean Pitch and Putt gold course in Brighton.

Gary Tucker, of Longridge Avenue, Saltdean, died at the scene of the crash. Two other people were injured.

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