310 guests celebrated the best and brightest from the air ambulance community on Monday 12th November at the national Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence 2018.

Awards hosts Richard Madeley and Angellica Bell handed out 12 Awards to outstanding individuals and teams, whose stories were inspirational, astounding and humbling. The awards, which are independently judged, went to pilots, paramedics, doctors, fundraisers and volunteers who collected their trophies at a ceremony held on the night.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance were shortlisted as finalists in two categories; Air Ambulance Paramedic of the Year and the Air Ambulance Special Incident Award.

Air Ambulance Paramedic of the Year - Critical Care Practitioner, Mark Williams

Mark has worked with the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for 19 years and has been with Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance for nine years. Over the past year, whilst working full time, Mark has successfully completed an MSc in Pre-hospital Critical Care. He was also accepted and trained as a Pre-hospital Examiner with the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh and he examined within the Diploma of Immediate Medical Care exam in July 2018.  Mark is not only an outstanding practitioner, but also an incredible ambassador for the Charity. He volunteers his time, attends numerous outreach days and has taken part in the Charity’s 54-mile Coast to Coast Cycle Challenge for the past two years.

Mark’s commitment to patient care, calmness under pressure and extra-ordinary scene management was exemplified earlier this year whilst off duty. Travelling home from a family trip to the coast, he and his wife (also a paramedic with the South Western Ambulance Service) came across a serious road traffic incident; the result being five critically injured patients. This number of patients is challenging for any clinician, let alone those who are off duty and with no medical equipment to hand. Mark took control of the situation and together the pair made an exceptional team; treating the seriously injured and enlisting help from members of the public both before and after the Emergency Services arrived.

Air Ambulance Special Incident Award - This incident involved a team from Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance being tasked to reports of a female trapped underneath a carnival float in Chard. The incident demonstrated the remarkable power of teamwork, meticulous planning, training and experience between all inter-agency services present. It was a true example of a patient having an intact ‘Chain of Survival’, from the initial first aid provided, to their post hospital rehabilitation.

During the Awards, an enthusiastic audience listened to every remarkable story of the shortlisted nominees, all of whom demonstrated excellence and commitment well above and beyond the call of duty. The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance team just missed out on winning the Special Incident Award, however they were overwhelmingly delighted and proud when Mark Williams was announced as Air Ambulance Paramedic of the Year.

Bill Sivewright, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance Chief Executive Officer said:

Mark’s contribution to improving care for critically ill and injured patients is substantial and we are thrilled that this has been recognised at a national level. He is a role model for compassionate paramedic practice and is greatly respected within the region. The professional and capable care that he demonstrated on a day where he was off duty, is a wonderful example of the outstanding effect he has on the people around him. The personal confidence and trust that he placed in others is likely to have far-reaching effects, as those involved are far more likely to offer immediate aid in the future because of the faith that he showed in them. Therefore, Mark’s instinctive actions could potentially benefit patients that we never hear of and that is quite a legacy.

Speaking of his achievement, Mark said:

I feel absolutely privileged to receive this award. It was amazing to be nominated and I didn’t think for one minute that I would win, as there were so many other worthy nominations. To be with my wife and air ambulance colleagues on the evening made it evermore special. I am completely overwhelmed; it was very emotional and a very proud moment indeed.

I am honoured to be part of Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. We all do amazing things on a day-to-day basis, but to be recognised in this way is very humbling. I feel very proud and privileged not only for me and my family, but for the Charity as well.

Further details about the Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence, together with a full list of all the winners can be found at www.aoaa.org.uk