Golden recognition for Armed Forces support

National award recognises support North East Ambulance Service gives to Armed Forces personnel as an employer

North East Ambulance Service has been awarded a Gold employer award in recognition of its support to Armed Forces personnel.

Having signed up to the Armed Forces Covenant in late 2020, NEAS has been working its way through the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) accreditation process ever since, and has now been successful in being awarded a Gold employer award. 

The gold award comes in recognition of NEAS:

  • Being one of 64 NHS trusts and organisations to be named a Veterans Aware employer;
  • Reviewing its reservist policy to ensure that current serving military staff can meet their training requirements and can take fully paid leave to meet military obligations, including longer postings;
  • Providing access to in-house occupational health specialist services as well as access to Veteran Champion Training;
  • Streamlining recruitment processes for veterans and currently serving military staff, including offering guaranteed shortlisting and interview schemes;
  • Partnering with the Defence Medical Services to provide placements for military paramedics to build up their paramedic skills and competencies;
  • Supporting specific leave to accommodate partners being granted leave to coincide with actively serving partners;
  • Providing a staff military network, a dedicated group where staff can support each other;
  • Being an active member of regional and national military and defence networks looking at how we can collaboratively improve patient and staff experience.

More than 400 NEAS colleagues are veterans or are currently serving as reservists. Of these, more than 30 were employed over the last year. The service also employs more than 100 military spouses or partners, and four employees are Cadet Force Adult Volunteers.

The Armed Forces Covenant is a promise from the nation to those who serve or who have served, and their families, which says we will do all we can to ensure they are treated fairly and are not disadvantaged in their day-to-day lives.

The ERS awards is run by the Ministry of Defence and encourages employers across the UK to recognise the value that members of the Armed Forces community bring to their respective workforces.

The scheme recognises three levels of commitment; bronze, silver and gold, and guides employers to become advocates and inspire others to acknowledge and support members of the Armed Forces community.

A total of 156 organisations have been recognised this year, the ninth year of the awards scheme.

The gold award will be officially awarded to NEAS at a ceremony in York in November.

Karen Gardner, Assistant Director of People Development at NEAS, said: “We are truly honoured to receive Gold accreditation in such a short space of time, which I hope demonstrates the commitment we have made to supporting our employees who are veterans as well as those who continue to serve our country, whilst serving the public in their roles within NEAS.

“As an organisation, we fully recognise both their service and also the fantastic skills that are completely transferable into our frontline and support roles. They are rightly very proud of the service they have given, and often continue to give, to their country, and we are equally proud of them and the valuable contribution they continue to make through working for us.”

Phil DalaneyIn just two short years since joining NEAS in 2020 during the covid 19 pandemic, veteran Phil Delaney has made quick progress to develop his career at NEAS, in part thanks to his extensive career history, which began in the Armed Forces.

Phil began his initial role as an ambulance care assistant on the apprenticeship scheme in September 2020, and recently took up his current role as training officer for the service, clocking up a level 3 qualification in non-emergency care and a level 3 qualification in teaching and education along the way.

Phil joined the British Armed Forces in 1997 and, despite withdrawing from training due to injury, he eventually served with the REME for 12 years, deployed on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan, working with elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade, 3 Commando Brigade and the United Kingdom Special Forces Support Group.

During his time, he qualified as a class 1 vehicle mechanic, class 3 combat engineer, skill at arms instructor, CBRN instructor, basic first aid instructor and a ceremonial drill instructor, spending his last year of service working in the regimental training wing.

Upon leaving the armed forces in 2008 to focus on family life, he took up roles to mentor new engineers and deliver training packages on new techniques and equipment and to support students aged 12 to16 interested in joining the Armed Forces in a pupil referral unit, before he applied to work at NEAS.

He said: “My role here at NEAS builds on my previous Armed Forces knowledge and skills – they have been fully recognised and I’m being supported now by my team to improve my skills and personal development and I’m even looking to complete my level 5 diploma in education and training.”

Gareth AldersonParamedic Gareth Alderson, who is based in Middlesbrough, is one of a number of reservists employed at North East Ambulance Service. When not saving lives through his day job, he is responsible for writing, delivering, and assurance of clinical training to around 2,500 combat medical technicians, which include regular and reserve service personnel, through his role as clinical training warrant officer with 1st (UK) Division at Imphal Barracks, York.

He said: “As I near 24 years serving with the Army, I become increasingly aware of how much my employer's support means to me and how it supports the bigger picture of defence worldwide, which is wholly appreciated by the army and wider defence forces.”

Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, balancing their civilian life with a military career to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve. 

Conor JonesPrior to joining NEAS, 30-year-old newly qualified paramedic Conor Jones served in the Royal Army Medical Corps for nine years as a combat medic, providing emergency lifesaving treatment to wounded soldiers on the front line at home and abroad.

“I think both the military and the ambulance service can really benefit from mutual sharing of knowledge, training and support,” he said.

“Paramedics in the military are now more experienced at identifying life threatening medical emergencies and are granted a broader scope of practice to deal with them.  

“I have been given the opportunity while working with NEAS to broaden my clinical knowledge and I've been afforded the time to continue to pursue military courses, in the hope of integrating the unique knowledge and experiences both sides can bring.

“I have learnt a lot from many people in the NEAS community and fellow paramedics continue to mentor and guide me.”

Alongside Conor, 31-year-old Matthew Storey has been serving in the Army for almost nine years as a driver and maintenance Instructor and a member of a mainstream medical unit.

Matthew has been with NEAS for over a year and prior to becoming a registered paramedic, he was a combat medical technician, providing healthcare to patients with major trauma and supporting his peers. 

As a Corporal and aspiring Sergeant, it was his role to manage that of other service personnel, he took up a number of roles and responsibilities and has been deployed to Canada BATUS multiple times as well as Africa as part of the British response to the Ebola epidemic. 

He said: “Being with NEAS has widened my knowledge of medical conditions, including improvement and confidence in assessing and managing patients.  

“Having more consistent clinical exposure has allowed me to consolidate and develop my knowledge and skills that I can now apply in enhance medical care in both a military and civilian environment.”

David HortonDavid Horton, aged 50, joined NEAS in February 2018 as a training officer before becoming the training advisor and assessor as part of the Trust’s apprenticeship team. Prior to joining NEAS, he served for 24 years as a Royal Marines Commando, attaining the rank of Sergeant Major. He travelled around the globe on training and served on operational tours in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq.

He said: “As a Royal Marines veteran, I believe that the behaviours, skills, and knowledge that veterans have developed and embody during their service careers are, and will continue to be, an asset to NEAS across any job role. During my career I have witnessed on a daily basis, tri-service personnel demonstrating their own service core values and standards, and they match those of NEAS. NEAS continues to recognise the contribution and the value that a veteran can add to the organisation.”

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