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“We can see they need help”: Dispatcher reveals the extent of ambulance crisis

An ambulance dispatcher with the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has revealed the difficult choices she faces daily due to a lack of ambulances.

Stephanie, 32, from Wigan is part of a small team responsible for allocating ambulances when 999 calls come in, guiding crews to get to patients and save their lives. She said that the toughest part of her job was not being able to get people treatment quickly.

She said: “On busier days, people who are lower priority can be left waiting for a lot longer than they should be. It is really difficult not to be able to help them quickly – we can see that they need assistance, but if there are higher priority patients suffering from strokes or heart attacks, there’s nothing we can do.”

However, knowing that she is helping people in the community can be extremely fulfilling. “My job allows me to help people experiencing the worst day of their lives. When I send a crew to see a patient in cardiac arrest, and they start breathing again, that is hugely rewarding.”

Stephanie spoke up after receiving free laser eye surgery as part of Optical Express’s ‘Thanks A Million’ campaign, which is giving away another £1 million of free laser eye surgery to thank NHS and Emergency Service Workers for their hard work. When wearing glasses, she could sometimes struggle with the fast-paced nature of her job and the large amounts of information she needs to deal with.

She said: “At work there are three screens covered in information, as well as a radio screen that allows us to communicate with the ambulance crews. Wearing glasses, I’d often get headaches from staring at them for 12-hour shifts, and the frames would mean I couldn’t see all the screens at once. It was especially difficult during night shifts.

“Since the surgery I no longer get headaches and my mood at work has improved, so I’m sure my colleagues are grateful too!”

David Moulsdale, Founder and CEO of Optical Express, said: “Optical Express’s ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign allows us to improve the lives of so many hardworking people. This is the second time we have launched this campaign because we are passionate about giving something back to those who protect the public and to acknowledge the sacrifices they made during the pandemic.

“People are rightly proud of our NHS and Emergency Service Workers in this country, and they have worked tirelessly over the last three years to keep us safe. We are delighted that we can contribute to giving them the thanks that they deserve.”

It is the second time that Optical Express has chosen to thank NHS and Emergency Service Workers in this way. In 2017 they launched their first ‘Thanks a Million’ campaign which saw them give away £1 million worth of free laser eye surgery. Over the course of the two campaigns £2 million worth of laser eye surgery will be donated to improve the lives of our NHS and Emergency Service Workers. Since Optical Express was founded 33 years ago, the team are proud to have supported hundreds of humanitarian and philanthropic projects, donating over £33 million to worthwhile causes in the UK and abroad. By the end of this year it will be over £34 million.