John Dyer, Head of Resilience and Specialist Operations
I have been in the ambulance service since 1985. Frankie was saying, "relax!" and leg warmers seemed a good idea at the time!
I started as a trainee ambulance technician at Portsmouth Main ambulance station, part of what was Hampshire Ambulance Service. (Now the southern cluster of South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust.)
Ambulance staff are always being asked if they have a funny story to tell. I remember driving back to our ambulance station from the hospital one day when we found ourselves in a queue of traffic. Looking ahead to see what the problem was, we could see a car parked at an awkward angle on the side of the road, with a pair of legs sticking out from underneath. There was also a small group of people standing around, looking anxious. Thinking the worst I put the ambulance's blue lights and sirens on while my crewmate got onto the radio to the control room to "call it in". Now driving on the other side of the road we were soon approaching the car and group of bystanders... just in time to see the AA man pull himself from under the car with what looked like a burst water hose! Needless to say we sailed on past until we were around the corner before turning off the lights and sirens!
While stationed at Fareham ambulance station I qualified as an ambulance paramedic in 1992, a qualification I am proud to still hold. (Although is is a little more difficult than it used to be to get back up after kneeling alongside a collapsed patient!)
Reporting to the Director of Support Services I head a small team of resilience and specialist operations managers, the HART operational manager and the two air ambulances. I ensure the Trust's resilience strategy is set and then delivered against agreed milestones.
I also ensure that any strategic direction from the Department of Health and NHS South of England is integrated into the Trust within agreed budgets and deadlines.
My position also gives me the opportunity to contribute to national emergency preparedness, resilience and response (EPRR) priorities such as the response to new and emergening threats and the ever present challenges of hazards such as adverse weather and pandemic disease. I also chair the national Emergency Preparedness and Resilience Board - an integral part of the national Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU).
It is also my responsibility to ensure the Trust is able to respond to convential major incidents such as mass casualty or large transport incidents as well as less conventional incidents such as terrorist or CBRN attacks. This is done by ensuring the Trust has adequate resources and that staff are well trained and rehearsed in their roles.
Looking at the wider picture I also have to ensure the Trust (as a category 1 responder under the Civil Contingencies Act (2004)) complies with its duties and plays an integrated part in the multiagency preparation, response to and recovery from an emergency (as defined by the Act).
I'm a firm believer that adversity often presents opportunities for learning and making things better.