Shane Devlin Gets Ready to Drive the Ambulance Service Forward

New Chief Executive Shane Devlin in RRVToday we welcome Shane Devlin to NIAS as our new Chief Executive.

Shane joins us from Belfast Health and Social Care Trust from whom we are hearing great things about him and detecting a sense of loss because he has left them to join us – a classic “their loss is our gain”.

Shane brings to us 18 years of management experience in Health and the experience of having led on a number of organisational change projects designed to improve patient care.

Hailing from Craigavon, Shane is married with two children who help keep his feet firmly on the ground. Away from the pressures of the job, Shane likes nothing more than a round of golf although, by his own admission, he hasn’t been able, despite his great experience in developing strategies, to develop one good enough to improve his game.

Not one for letting the grass grow under his feet, Shane has said “I really look forward to spending the next number of months getting out and about and meeting as many of the people who work in the Service as possible so as to understand the challenges that are faced and to build, in partnership, the plans for the future.”

He also had this to say to anyone who uses, or may have to use, our Service;
“Like you all I have, until now, watched the ambulance service from afar and marvelled at the work they do and the dedication they possess. I too have seen the news reports about the challenges they face in terms of workload, meal breaks, late finishes and assaults by those who just do not appreciate the help they are being given. Now I am no longer a spectator – I am their Chief Executive. I want to see what extra impetus I can bring to the work that is ongoing so that, in partnership, we can resolve these issues to ensure that the staff you see now can maintain their love for the job so that patients that will continue to benefit. I honestly see it as an honour and privilege to have been given this role and I intend to give it my all.”

In the video below, Shane reflects on his first day in NIAS.


NIAS Crew Praised by Grateful Father on U105

Ambulance at Emergency DepartmentRRV Paramedic Ricky Bendall and Bangor A&E crew Ian Watty and Aynsley McKim received public praise this morning on local radio station, U105, from a very grateful father Aaron Duffy for their quick actions and care following a horrific incident at his home yesterday afternoon. He has a 5 year old son, Reilly, with Down’s Syndrome who managed to get himself into a tumble dryer at home. When the door closed the machine switched on automatically.

Reilly’s mum was upstairs and Aaron himself was out of the house. The alarm was actually raised by the family’s pet dog. Reilly’s mum came down to find out what the noise was about and was horrified to see Reilly in the tumble dryer.

The RRV was on scene within 6 minutes and was followed by the crew. Reilly was taken to the Ulster Hospital at Dundonald and is now recovering well.
His dad just wanted to go on air and thank the crews, along with the medical staff at the Ulster, but also to warn other parents of the dangers and the need to be very careful. Today, Reilly is back to his old self and we will maybe get him a wee visit to the station next week.

His dad also thought that it was very nice of Ricky, Ian and Aynsley to put their head round the curtain to check how Reilly was getting on when they arrived back at the hospital on later calls.

A massive well done to all three of you!

You can listen to Aaron speaking on the Frank Mitchell show by following the link:

Emergency Service Hero of the Year

Station Officer Sammy Nicholl with his Derry Journal Emergency Services Hero of the Year Award
Station Officer Sammy Nicholl with his Derry Journal Emergency Services Hero of the Year Award

Congratulations to Sammy Nicholl who, last weekend, received the Derry Journals Emergency Services Hero of the Year.

Sammy has faithfully served the people of Derry for over 35 years in various roles within the Ambulance Service. Sammy’s long and varied service as an Ambulanceman, Leading Ambulance Person, Control Officer, Paramedic and lately, Station Officer has impacted on the lives and wellbeing, from cradle to grave, of literally hundreds, probably thousands of members of the community where he lives. Sammy has had an unstinting, dedicated and hard working approach to Ambulance work in all its guises and often in an unrecognised way. Sammy has been involved in responding to many incidents over the years, whether they be multi-casualty major incidents or those where he dealt with individual patients in a caring and sensitive manner in their time of need. Sammy is always a willing volunteer to put himself forward when there is a need and has become a frequent face seen at many of the large scale events that have taken place over recent years, as he provides support to their management and public safety. As a Station Officer, Sammy currently manages all the ambulance personnel, facilities and ambulance vehicles in Derry and Limavady but can also be seen still responding to calls from the public when the need arises.

Outstanding Bravery Award Nominees (L-R) Seamus McAllister, Cormac McIvor, Pronsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and John McClintock (not pictured).
Outstanding Bravery Award Nominees (L-R) Seamus McAllister, Cormac McIvor, Pronsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and John McClintock (not pictured).

We should also give a special mention to our nominees for a special bravery award.

As you take on a new job you would normally expect your training to ease you into things gently. Not so for Proinsias Doran, Eoin Lyons and Cormac McIvor who while on their Emergency Driving Course with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service were pressed into action quicker than they could have imagined.

On a demo drive with Divisional Training Officer, Seamus McAllister, they were approaching the Foyle bridge when they saw a build-up of traffic. As they were waiting in the queue they noticed a bit of a commotion and a young male on the wrong side of the safety railings. A couple of members of the public were trying desperately to hold on to him but he was fighting hard. The new recruits ran up to the scene and were able to lend a fresh pair of hands to assist the tiring limbs of the passers by. Still the young man fought and one of the team ran to the vehicle to get straps which are usually used for securing people to a spinal board. The team was joined at this stage by SO John McClintock. With these straps they were able to secure him, with the help of another paramedic who had arrived on scene, to the railings so that if anyone lost their grip he would still be safe.
The strong caring arms of the ambulance staff were sending a message to him that they were not going to let him go, they were there to care for him at that moment when he felt helpless – he was not alone and as they talked to him he became more settled and willing to listen.

The PSNI arrived and were able to secure him to the bridge as extra insurance against slipping. The longer he was secure, the more chance the team had to talk to him and win his trust. Eventually he stepped over the railings to safety.

Without doubt the initial actions of the unknown members of the public played a major role in saving this man’s life as they bought the time required for the new NIAS trainees to arrive on scene and take over.

The team were pipped for the award by the heroic actions of Davitt Walsh, a member of the public, who jumped in to try and save a family as their car slipped into the water at Buncrana. But all in all it was a proud night for NIAS in the west at the awards ceremony.

Well done everyone.

NIAS Goes Green

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is changing its uniform for the first time since its inception in 1995.

The old royal blue shirts and navy trousers are to be replaced by the nationally recognised green uniform from Monday 12 September.

The change means that NIAS staff will now look the same as colleagues across the UK.

The change comes after extensive consultation by the Trust’s Uniform Committee which is made up of management representatives and trade union members representing the views of staff.

Bryan Snoddy, Assistant Director of Operations, and chairman of the Uniform Committee welcomed the change saying;

“The move to green uniforms has come about following a long period of discussion with representatives of staff. Work to facilitate the transition began almost three years ago and I am delighted that from Monday 12 September, NIAS staff will be instantly recognisable by a new uniform which brings a degree of consistency with other ambulance services throughout the UK.

The change in uniform could also be said to reflect the other major changes which have been taking place throughout our Service over the past number of years. These changes, facilitated by appropriate care pathways, are designed to ensure that NIAS delivers what is best for the patient.

From Monday patients may see a different uniform but the people delivering that service are the same highly committed professionals that have would have been delivering the Service on Sunday.

 I would like to place on record my personal thanks to those who have worked tirelessly in an effort to ensure that this transition to green happens as seamlessly as possible”


The Trust has produced a short promo video:

NIAS Frontline Strengthened

As we start a new month, it is probably a good time to congratulate and welcome some staff who have successfully completed their courses in the past 5 weeks.

The top picture shows ACA recruits with Trainer, Glenn O’Rorke.

Back L-R: Peter McCormack, Anthony Curran, Hannah McKay, Patrick Adams
Front L-R: David Sanderson, David Cairns, Julie Devlin, Bronagh Kelly.

They will have started to fill the gaps created by some of those on the EMT course who had previously worked as ACA’s.

Below are the magnificent seven who completed that course at the end of July with Trainers, Tommy Sinnerton and Micky Hughes.

Back L-R: Cormac McIvor, Allistar Collins, Proinsias Dornan, David Hewitt, Robert Taggart
Front L-R: Martin McGarry and David McLarnon


Foyle Pride 2016

NIAS Staff at Belfast Pride 2016For the past few years members of our equality team have been urging me to attend Belfast Pride in support of our LGBT colleagues. Every year I always had a reason/excuse that I was too busy on that day.

Earlier this year I watched a film about the campaign for Equal Marriage in ROI. As I watched I became more aware than ever of the rights of LGBT people in our community. So moved was I that I decided right there and then that I would make sure that I attended the event this year to show my support for LGBT colleagues.

As the day passed I never gave a thought as to how much the presence of non-LGBT colleagues would mean to those who are LGBT. But then as arrangements were being progressed for Derry Pride this weekend, the following was sent in. When you read this, I hope you stop for a while and consider if you can attend this weekend – your support, through your presence, could mean so much to someone who may be struggling and who needs to know that they are not alone. This is what was sent in for inclusion in promotion of the day.


The I that I am, untold, unseen, hidden fearful of society’s spite.
Closeted, closed, clothed in that which I am not, society accepts.
Disillusioned, despairing that the hidden I be recognised,
shown only in the darkness of anonymity, the I that is seen is not me.
With myself, I watch our years slip by and with them, what might be.

Calling, crying, shouting to the world when I know it cannot hear,
The nature if the I that I am, pleading acceptance.
Ten years have gone by since I have written this and I write it now.
In ten years time I will write this and think of ten years time.


“I knew the guy who wrote this, I did not like him very much.

A very sad person who contemplated suicide. I know this because that person was me.

That is why Pride is very important to me and should be for all of us irrespective of our sexual orientation. It gives hope of acceptance to the fearful, closeted teenager and adult, hope to the bullied and battered by homophobes. It reaches out to those that fear being hanged in Iran and Saudi Arabia, to those who are beaten half to death then burned alive in Africa. Pride cries for those who are bound hand and foot, thrown of buildings then stoned to death.

Pride, as at stonewall, cries out “No more” and celebrates life.
Equal rights are Human rights and common to all Humanity so all of us have a responsibility to our humanity to ensure that Human Rights apply to all.
Many people have LGBT friends and relatives – children, aunties, uncles, brothers, sisters and parents. Pride is a wonderful chance to show solidarity with them.

Finally Pride celebrates inclusiveness and diversity and I am very proud that so many of my straight NIAS colleagues marched at Belfast Pride and we need our straight allies at Foyle and Newry Prides.”

Man & 2 Children Struck by Lightning

lightning-199651_1280The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is urging caution following an incident today when a man and two young children were struck by lightning in Lisburn.

NIAS was called to the scene, just before 2 pm today, following reports that an adult male had been struck by a bolt of lightning. A Rapid Response Paramedic was on scene in 7 minutes to find that two children had also been struck. Three A&E crews and a further 2 RRV Paramedics were sent to the scene.

The adult was taken to the nearby Lagan Valley Hospital and the two children were taken to the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children. All three are being treated for the injuries sustained and they remain in our thoughts.

As more thundery showers are forecast with the possibility of lightning we would ask people to remain very vigilant when they are out and about. If
there is a high chance of thunder storms – lightning safety advice would suggest that you stay indoors but if you are outside you should avoid open fields and hilltops. You should also stay away from tall, isolated trees. If you are in a group, spread out to avoid the current travelling between group members. You should also stay away from water and wet items as well as metal objects, which are all excellent conductors of electricity.

Please – just stay safe!

Finnish Delegation Visit NIAS

NIAS hosted a delegation of Health and Social Care representatives from Finland this morning.

IMG_0518The group are on the final day of their visit, undertaken to find out a bit more about how Health and Social Care is implemented here with a view to introducing their own model.

Our visitors were met by Dr David McManus, John Wright, Michelle Lemon, Ciaran McKenna and Frank Rafferty.

Following a short presentation outlining the role of NIAS and how we fit into the HSC system, with a particular eIMG_0527mphasis on the recent introduction of new alternative care pathways, the party were shown into our control room and also met with frontline staff, John Fox, Brian McKee and Andy Moore.

Before leaving, the group were presented with a memento of their visit and thanked us for our hospitality.

“Get stuck in!” – Paramedic advice to the public

Wendy CunninghamCardiac Arrest survivor, Nurse Wendy Cunningham, visited ambulance service headquarters in November to meet the staff who helped saved her life following her arrest in Templemore Swimming pool in Belfast.

Describing them as her “heroes”, Wendy wanted to personally say thanks for everything they did that night. Sean Martin was the Rapid Response Paramedic who arrived at the scene to find CPR being performed by one of Wendy’s friends and a pool attendant who, in a very fortuitous coincidence, had actually been taught CPR by Wendy herself.

While they continued CPR, Sean placed the pads on Wendy to discover she was in the shockable rhythm of VF. After one shock, a pulse returned but Wendy was not yet out of the woods as she had not yet started breathing again. The A&E crew, Alison McKinley and Eugene Jordan had arrived to assist just as Wendy’s pulse disappeared again and she needed another shock to restore it.

Wendy was then transferred to the ambulance and brought to the RVH where a team was waiting for her. She spent some time in the hospital and has since returned to a fully active life.

Sean Martin, RRV Paramedic, believes that the key to Wendy’s survival was the early CPR that was given by Wendy’s friends. He would encourage everyone to learn how to do CPR to keep the blood flowing to the brain while the Paramedics make their way to the scene. His message, to anyone who might be a bit hesitant about doing chest compressions, is very simple “Get stuck in – do the chest compressions and you might save a life!”

Watch Wendy’s meeting with her heroes.