AGM with a twist! NEAS celebrates at first annual meeting since becoming a Foundation Trust

Entertainment and information at public event in Durham

A bumper crowd of people from all walks of life have been given a peek behind the curtain of how a modern ambulance service is run, at NEAS's first annual meeting since becoming a foundation trust.

The fun day event, at Durham's Radisson Blu Hotel, featured stalls, demonstrations and talks on how NEAS takes care of the people it serves, along with the regular annual general meeting.

Simon Featherstone, NEAS Chief Executive, also demonstrated he could have been a surgeon, due to his rock-steady hands.

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Tony Dell, NEAS Chairman, said: "We wanted to do something that involved our staff, members, volunteers and governors, which gave everyone a better feel of what we actually do as a service.

"There is so much more to a modern ambulance service than most people read about in their newspapers or see on the television.

"Having an event like this is a great opportunity to spread the word, and show people how we work, and the type of equipment we use."

Since achieving FT status, NEAS has recruited more than 9,500 members from the general public. FT members can get involved with voting on NEAS policies, and also highlight topics of discussion in their local areas which may be of relevance to the ambulance service.

Visitors to the event were treated to demonstrations of life-saving techniques for patients who were suffering from breathing problems, fits, and strokes.

They were also shown equipment such as the LUCAS machine - a portable device which delivers precise, automated CPR.

The machine works out and provides the correct depth of compression and rate of "push", allowing the paramedic to administer drugs, clear airways, and explain what's happening to the patient and family.

Sonia Byers, NEAS Research and Development Manager, said: "We have been piloting the use of the LUCAS machine in the North East, and our staff have been really impressed by the way it works. It delivers a really good quality of CPR, and unlike human beings, never gets tired."

Other aspects of work at NEAS on display to the public included information of the volunteer car service, which helps non-urgent outpatients, keep their appointments, an award-winning falls project pioneered by NEAS which has won national recognition, and the non-urgent 111 phone service.

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