Anya Conway is pictured with North East Ambulance Service clinical care manager Chris Chalmers and Paul Douglas, deputy station officer at HM Coastguard Holy Island

Tooth fairies hit Holy Island in disguise as a paramedic and a coastguard

Team effort helps five-year-old Anya

A Gateshead family has been reunited with a paramedic and coastguard rescue officer, to say thank you, after their five-year-old daughter fell ill on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne.

Anya Conway, aged five, was enjoying a summer holiday on the Island with her mum Nadia, dad Martin and brother Evan, when she lost a tooth and suddenly began to have a fit.  

Nadia, who is a senior paediatric nurse, noticed Anya’s behaviour change and quickly moved her to the floor as she began to fit. When she didn’t seem to recover fully after some time, she rang 999 for an emergency ambulance. Paul Douglas from HM Coastguard attended soon after to support the family. 

Holy Island is an island cut off from the main land twice a day by the tide, with a population of around 160 permanent residents with hundreds of thousands of visitors. At the time of Anya falling ill, the tide was in and there was no access to the island by road.

NEAS works closely with HM Coastguard to agree the best option for access to and from Holy Island in the event of an emergency. The RNLI assisted North East Ambulance Service clinical care manager, Chris Chalmers, and his colleague paramedic Martin Browell to the island.

Chris Chalmers who has been with the Trust for 13 years explains, “We received the call to Holy Island but were told the tide was in so were unable to cross the causeway.

 “Once on scene, with help from the RNLI and Coastguard, Anya did not look to have fully recovered from the fit which is unusual. That’s why we decided she needed to go to hospital. The Coastguard again assisted us back to land and we were able to take Anya to hospital by road ambulance.

“This was a great team effort during what must have been a very distressing time for the family.”

Mum, Nadia explains, “I’ve been a nurse a long time but when it’s your own daughter who’s ill the situation was a bit more daunting.  We were in the local café at the time when Anya started to jerk and turn a bit blue.  She wasn’t out for long but it’s never happened before and it took some time for her to become fully responsive.  Paul was a great support and organised access for the ambulance service team to get to us as quickly as possible because there was no access by road.

“Once Chris and Martin arrived they too felt like Anya needed checking over to be sure nothing else was going on.  Having all of them there to help put me and the rest of my family at ease.  It’s been great to meet the team that helped us again in better circumstances and thank them again.”

Nadia is now hoping to encourage further training and support for the coastguard team during incidents they might attend to build upon their recent co-responder training delivered earlier in the year by NEAS.

Paul Douglas, Deputy Station Officer at HM Coastguard Holy Island said, “We’re really pleased we could help to get Anya the care she needed that day. It’s such a pleasure to be able to see them, now Anya is better. HM Coastguard and the North East Ambulance Service work very well and closely together to provide the best medical care to casualties on Holy Island and on the coast of the North East of England.”

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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