Worthing ambulance staff recognised for decades of service: ‘People look to you to do what is necessary’
Ambulance service staff and volunteers have been recognised for their long service and achievements in a virtual awards ceremony.
The event was arranged after SECAmb – the South East Coast Ambulance Service – had to postpone two of its annual awards ceremonies in March, 2020, because of Covid-19.
Celebrating 40 years’ service was Worthing-based paramedic Chris Williams.
His four decades with the ambulance service have included numerous noteworthy incidents, including being one of the first personnel at the Brighton bombing in 1984, and being part of the UK’s emergency response to Ebola in Sierra Leone, in 2014.
Chris, 64, said his time in Africa as part of a crack team from the NHS was ‘very challenging’.
“I’d say it was probably one of the best things I’ve ever done and also one of the worst,” he said.
“It was an awful experience, but one I wouldn’t have wanted to miss. There was this sense we were really helping and I completely fell for Africa – it’s a wonderful place.”
Chris started at Worthing Ambulance Station in April, 1979, and, apart from a brief spell in Shoreham, spent his entire career there.
The secret to his longevity is fundamentally that he enjoys the job, he said.
“You do have days when there’s a disaster but you have to get on with it – people look to you to do what is necessary,” added Chris, who also helped at Romanian orphanages in 1990.
“A lot of the time we are probably good actors and we look as if we’re dealing with it, but it’s not until afterwards when things calm down that you then realise what you’ve just been through.
“But I feel very privileged to have been doing it for such a long time. When you do what we do you see people at the beginning of life and at the end of their lives, in people’s worst times, and it’s quite a privilege to be there.”
Also receiving awards were Worthing-based paramedic Neil Martin, who was presented with a 30 years’ NHS Long Service Award, and Tammy Page, a frequent caller practitioner at Worthing, who was presented with a 20-year service medal.
Tammy started her ambulance career in April, 2005, joining the patient transport service stationed at Bognor then Worthing.
She became an ambulance technician in 2006, stationed in Brighton & Hove, before moving back to Worthing.
A SECAmb spokesman said: “Unfortunately, August, 2017, saw her experience a career-changing injury to her shoulder while attending an incident and she moved from the frontline to joint the frequent caller team.
“Tammy works with a team to manage this particular group of callers to the ambulance service that often have complex and sometimes unmet health and social care needs. The team looks to reduce the frequency of calls the individuals make and work with other agencies to ensure they receive the help they require.”
SECAmb chief executive Philip Astle said: “I am really pleased that we have been able to recognise some of the staff who were unable to receive their awards in March last year.
“I am always extremely humbled by the dedication of the decades of service we mark and incredibly proud of the special achievements of our commendation winners.
“These achievements are just a small selection of the amazing work which goes on day-in, day-out across our region.
“This year has been particularly challenging for staff and it is vital that we continue to recognise the commitment shown to their communities and each other.
“I would also take this opportunity to thank all staff, whatever their role and length of service, for commitment they show and the work they do to serve patients across our region.”