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The Gillingham firefighter who’s driving ambulances on the frontline

John Westbrook driving ambulances
Photos: Gillingham Fire Station
John Westbrook, Gillingham Fire Station

During the pandemic, some individuals have been taking on new roles to support various organisations that are under pressure from the current situation.

One of those individuals is firefighter John Westbrook from the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service.

Usually, John would be with Gillingham Fire Station. However, over the last 6 weeks, John has been using his skills to drive ambulances all over Dorset and beyond for the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.

John is one of 16 volunteers from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service who are helping on the frontline of the ambulance service.

In the 6 weeks that I have been driving ambulances I have provided cover at Salisbury, Swindon, Bournemouth and Warminster ambulance stations. I have taken casualties to Salisbury, Southampton, Poole, Bournemouth and Bath Hospital.

The jobs I have attended are generally falls or lower category calls but we do go to category 1 calls (Highest classification)

I attended a lady who the paramedics believed was having a bleed on the brain after they had stabilised her I drove her to hospital on blue lights with 2 crew members in the back of the ambulance.

It has been a very rewarding experience so far and I believe my skills have been enhanced from doing it.

John, Gillingham Fire Station

We are delighted about this partnership with fire service colleagues across the South West to support our frontline care of patients. We have invested in 15 additional ambulance vehicles, which have now been allocated to this important partnership initiative.

The partnership will enable us to make more efficient use of our resources and help us deal with the expected increase in demand over the upcoming weeks. This will mean we are better equipped to reach those patients most in need of our care, and ultimately to save more lives.

Derek McCullough, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
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