Emergency services praised for vital pandemic role

Firefighters and police officers have received an award for the support they provided to hospital patients


24/03/2022 3:50pm


Hampshire & Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service

Firefighters and police officers have been recognised for the important part they played in supporting vulnerable patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A team from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service (HIWFRS) and Hampshire Constabulary were on hand to pick up the Best Emergency Services Collaboration award for their work in intensive care units (ICUs) at the Skills for Health Our Health Heroes Awards.

In total, 27 firefighters assisted frontline medics at four of Hampshire’s hospitals by helping to care for some of the most vulnerable patients. While volunteers from Hampshire Constabulary stepped in to help at University Hospital Southampton.

To alleviate pressure on NHS staff at the peak of COVID-19, hospital leaders trained up the multi-agency team in proning, which involves putting patients onto their front to relieve pressure on their vital organs and assist breathing.

Firefighter Matthew Smither, Crew Manager Sophie Exton-Woodford, Watch Manager Adam Bundle, Station Manager Alex Rhodes and Group Manager Craig Gregory accepted the award on behalf of the team, alongside PC Matthew James and Sgt Stu Bridle from Hampshire Constabulary and representatives from University Hospital Southampton.

Group Manager Craig Gregory, Health and Social Care Lead at HIWFRS, said:

“We’re proud to accept this award recognising the part firefighters played alongside health professionals and our police colleagues in Southampton, Portsmouth, Basingstoke and Winchester hospitals at the height of the pandemic.

“It was a truly humbling partnership between the hospital trusts, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and Rescue Service, other blue-light colleagues and the Local Resilience Forum.

“Our firefighters showed true dedication, compassion and professionalism at a time when all those things mattered most.

“My thanks go to everyone who was involved.”


PC Matthew James said:

“It was amazing to be able to step up and answer the local resilience forum’s call for support into local hospital intensive care units.

“At the height of the second wave of COVID-19 the request presented a unique challenge for Hampshire Constabulary in that this is the first time a police force has provided mutual aid to a hospital in this way.

“There was lots of planning that went on in collaboration behind the scenes to ensure our officers were able and ready to rise to this challenge.

“Our officers and staff working with Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire and University Hospital Southampton achieved something amazing in offering support to those extremely unwell with COVID-19 and gave a real boost to the exhausted NHS staff.

“The award being presented today recognises and celebrates the achievements of all involved in this unique collaboration.”

Derek Sandeman, Chief Medical Officer at Hampshire and Isle of Wight Integrated Care System said:

“This award is a reflection of the brilliant partnership work carried out by the emergency services throughout the COVID pandemic.

“On behalf of the NHS in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, I would like to say thank you to all those involved in this award winning project.

“Their efforts and dedication have had such a positive impact on the lives of people living in our area and we look forward to continuing our work together in the future.”

The Our Health Heroes Awards were held at the London Science Museum on Thursday (24 March).

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