Published: 28 September 2023

The Wales Air Ambulance has been shortlisted as a finalist in two categories at this year’s Air Ambulance Awards of Excellence. 

Organised by Air Ambulances UK, the annual awards celebrate and recognise the specialist lifesaving critical care skills and commitment of those who work tirelessly within the air ambulance community. This year’s ceremony will be hosted by broadcaster Hayley McQueen and will take place at the Select Car Leasing Stadium in Reading on the 30 November. 

The Wales Air Ambulance Charity has been shortlisted for two awards – Operations Support Staff of the Year and Special Incident of the Year.  

The air ambulance service in Wales is delivered via a unique Third Sector and Public Sectorpartnership. The Wales Air Ambulance Charity relies on public donations to raise the £11.2 million required every year to keep the helicopters in the air and rapid response vehicles on the road. The Emergency Medical Retrieval and Transfer Service (EMRTS) supplies highly skilled NHS consultants and critical care practitioners who work on board the Charity’s vehicles. 

Shortlisted in the ‘Operations Support Staff of the Year’ category is EMRTS Critical Care Hub Manager, Greg Browning. He was nominated by his colleagues for his exemplary and outstanding service. 

The EMRTS Critical Care Hub, based in Cwmbran, is the centre of the Wales Air Ambulance service. Operating 24/7, an allocator and critical care practitioner will monitor every 999 call made to the Welsh Ambulance Service and identify where early critical care intervention is required before dispatching the most appropriate Wales Air Ambulance resource. 

Greg is responsible for the complex management of making sure the operation runs smoothly, and since joining the service back in 2015 has been an instrumental member of the team. 

Mark Winter, EMRTS Operations Director, said: The Hub is a critical part of the Wales Air Ambulance service and, since its introduction in 2015, Greg has helped with its implementation and the training of staff. He takes his job very seriously and puts patients and staff at the heart of everything he does.  

 We need to cherish people like him as the non-patient facing staff make a significant difference and this cant be forgotten. His actions and abilities are really important to our communities and he is the lynchpin of the organisation. 

Dr Sue Barnes, Wales Air Ambulance Chief Executive, said: “The work that the Critical Care Hub does is outstanding and is vital to our success as a service. Their daily judgement calls and assessments rely on experience and finely tuned instincts.  

 Greg’s contribution to the Hub and its development have helped to make our service what it is today.” 

Greg was unaware that his colleagues had nominated him for an award and was shocked to have received the news. He said: “I was, quite literally, speechless.  

This is undoubtedly the proudest moment of my entire career. Knowing that my colleagues have chosen to nominate me for this award is something I shall cherish for the rest of my days. I am grateful every day for the opportunities EMRTS and the Wales Air Ambulance have presented me with, and this is quite simply the icing on the cake.” 

The lifesaving Charity has also been shortlisted for the Special Incident of the Year Award for the delivery of extremely premature twins in a pre-hospital environment. 

Last year, two EMRTS crews in Wales Air Ambulance rapid response vehicles were dispatched by Critical Care Practitioner Tom Archer and Critical Air Support Allocator, Katie Manson, to a woman in labour at just 24 weeks.  

With the twins being so premature, and at an estimated weight of 500 grams, the odds of their survival were extremely low.  

Critical Care Practitioners Josh Eason, Elliott Rees, Mark Frowen and Critical Care Consultant Dr Laura Owen, went above and beyond to deliver the twins and provide advanced critical care interventions in challenging conditions. The emergency included an extremely difficult intubation, mechanical ventilation and the administration of lifesaving medication. 

Despite the conditions, the twins were stabilised and safely transported to the nearest neonatal unit. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the team, one of the twins passed away whilst in hospital. 

Dr Sue Barnes, said: “This was an extremely rare and incredibly challenging mission for the teams but they did everything they could to give the babies the best possible chance of survival. The crew were praised by the hospital neonatologist for the standard of care provided, especially due to the condition in which they were born. 

Whilst we are deeply saddened to hear that one of the twins passed away, we are grateful that one survived against the odds. Our heartfelt thanks go to the family for enabling us to share their story to highlight the work of our service.”