United effort ensures vulnerable resident gets medical care

This story was published 2 December 2021

Emergency services, the NHS, councils and members of a community pulled together to help a resident in need during the weekend’s co-ordinated response to Storm Arwen.

Snow at Ribblehead

The mercy mission meant a patient needing hospital care could be transferred from their isolated home.

The patient had been receiving care at home, but when Storm Arwen struck it left access to their home blocked by snow and fallen trees, coupled with a loss of power and telephone contact.

Our highways and social care teams, South Tees NHS staff, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, Yorkshire Ambulance Service and a local farmer worked together to clear a path to the person’s home and carry them to an ambulance by stretcher.

Gritting crews stood by to ensure the vehicles could move safely on otherwise treacherous roads to take her to the Friarage Hospital in Northallerton, where NHS staff had a bed waiting.

Hilary Lloyd, chief nurse at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Community nursing teams went above and beyond to access the isolated properties and provide much-needed help.”

North Yorkshire highways area manager Jayne Charlton said: “A farming contractor ploughed and gritted an unclassified road leading to the property, but it became clear there were trees in the grounds of the house causing access issues.

“The fire service cleared a pathway through the trees and we were co-ordinated at a rendezvous point, where the patient could be stretchered back to the ambulance and taken to hospital. The farming contractor is a local resident and he reacted very quickly when we rang to ask for help. It was a great assistance and illustrates how the community plays a vital part in these situations.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service group manager Thomas Hirst helped to co-ordinate their response, with the local on-call fire crew helping with the person’s transfer to hospital. “Our crews did an absolutely sterling job,” he said. “It was a great multi-agency response. It was a great example of everyone working together. It could not have been a more rural location.”

Ken Lowe, Area Operations Manager at Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, said: “An ambulance crew provided assistance with this transfer and I’m very proud of everyone’s determination, resilience and team working in challenging conditions to ensure the patient was able to access the care they needed.”

Neil Irving, on behalf of the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, through which the response to Storm Arwen was co-ordinated, said: “In situations like this, it’s essential to work together closely to make sure that those who need help can get it. Events such as winter storms can cause problems for many people, so it is vital that, as here, we combine our services with people in the affected communities to provide a strong, effective response.”