A Paramedic from South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) has been awarded the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Medal (QAM).
The award goes to Robert Horton, responder manager and paramedic from Devon who joined the Trust in 2001.
In 2009 Robert joined the Trust’s Community Engagement Team to focus on developing community access to defibrillators. He, with his team created over 3500 defibrillators across the South West, together with a team of 8900 people who are trained every year to respond ahead of an ambulance in the communities and businesses.
Robert created the first 999 Academy for 16 to 19 year olds in the country, a programme to create safer communities, build CVs and inspire young people to take up a career in the emergency services. Following on from a road casualty reduction programme in North Devon, Robert developed the 999 Academy working with Devon & Cornwall Police, Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service and Petroc College.
He secured a grant from the Department of Digital Culture Media and Sport and the 999 Academy programme has expanded this year to Bridgwater & Taunton College in Somerset, with plans to create a 999 Academy in each county throughout the South West and to grow the programme nationally.
In 2011 Robert was promoted to head the Community Responders Department and through his leadership the Trust now has over 450 community groups and more than 1000 Community First Responder volunteers. These trained volunteers respond to medical emergencies in their communities and businesses, often arriving on scene first to provide immediate care until the ambulance arrives.
Robert said: “It is a real honour to be awarded the Queen’s Ambulance Medal and I feel immensely proud to work for the Trust.
“I am completely overwhelmed to be nominated for this prestigious medal. The announcement of the award on Friday was a complete shock and the level of reaction from family, friends and colleagues has been humbling. I carry out my role to the very best of my ability, energised by the amazing people I work with and by the volunteers of our South West community.
"My ambition to enable Ambulance Service volunteering opportunities for our communities maintains my daily focus to seek new initiatives and programmes. I am extremely fortunate to see first-hand how beneficial volunteering for individual and community health really is. I am immeasurably grateful to the support of the Trust’s Directors who believe in the work I do with the team and the benefit we provide our patients and communities.”
Ken Wenman, chief executive, South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, added: “There is an amazing amount of talent and dedication here in the South Western Ambulance Service and Rob is the absolute testament to that. He has developed the ambulance community voluntary responder scheme to the largest and most progressive in the country with over 8900 volunteers, responding to emergencies ahead of an ambulance. I believe the 999 Academy has been one of the most significant initiatives aimed specifically at young people in the South West for many years. He has a great deal to be proud of as we are of him for receiving this award.”