Emergency call handler shortlisted for national award

Dave George with Olivia Molyneux when he visited the SWASFT 999 Control Centre in October to thank her personally.

Thursday 24th January 2019 07:18 GMT

An emergency call handler has been shortlisted for a national award after she saved a seriously ill police inspector in Penwith.

South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) emergency medical dispatcher Olivia Molyneux is in contention to win the Patient’s Choice accolade at the 2019 Unsung Hero Awards, following her efforts to help off-duty Metropolitan official Dave George.

Inspector George collapsed in hot weather during August 2018 on the South West Coast Path between Penzance and Land’s End.

The 43-year-old had been walking for several hours during a training exercise for a charity walk.

He experienced “crushing” chest pains and was struggling to breathe, but managed to call 999 to get help.

Olivia, who joined SWASFT in August 2017, assessed his condition and stayed on the phone to him while crews travelled to the remote location.

Inspector George was transported by land ambulance to hospital where he was diagnosed with serious heat stroke. He made a full recovery.

He later wrote a letter to SWASFT chief executive, Ken Wenman, in which he expressed “sincere thanks and praise” for Olivia’s role and then made a special visit to the SWASFT North Clinical Hub near Bristol in October to thank her in person.

“I knew I was in trouble,” he said. “I was on my own in a remote location,  and needed help. My chest pains were quite intense. So it was a desperate situation. But the response from everyone was amazing.

“Olivia was totally exceptional. She dealt with a very difficult and challenging call in the most superb way.

“I wanted to thank her personally, because call handlers don’t tend to get the recognition they deserve.

“The kindness and calm professionalism that she showed deserved special praise. I don’t think I could have got through that hour alone without her staying on the line and talking to me.”

The Unsung Hero Awards are intended to shine a light onto the hard work that non-medical staff and volunteers of the NHS strive towards on a daily basis.

Olivia said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been chosen by a patient, let alone shortlisted, for a national award. It’s so lovely of him to make such an effort to acknowledge my contribution towards the lifesaving care he received.

“Staff in the Control Room don’t often get thanked for the hard work we do 24/7, 365 days a year on behalf of the Trust for patients. So, to be recognised in this way is such an encouragement to us all.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on 1 March.

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