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Alderney ambulance crew agree to go back to work if chief reinstated

News | Published:

STRIKING Alderney Ambulance Service crew have offered to return to duty under the leadership of chief officer Mel Walden, who was fired in December.

Picture by David Nash. 05-12-2019. Crew from St John Ambulance Guernsey covered for striking Alderney Ambulance Service staff to give the island full 24-hour emergency cover during the ambulance dispute. (26968001)

In a letter to Alderney States members, the crew put forward a proposal under which they would return to work as long as Mrs Walden’s job was returned to her.

On 11 December, a resolution was passed by the board of directors that the resources of AAS would be made available to the States to allow the government to provide an ambulance service.

After striking in protest of Mrs Walden’s dismissal, the crew said they never intended to withdraw from their duties for the long term but instead hoped it would result in Mrs Walden being reinstated.

‘Since that time, a combination of fire service personnel and hastily recruited volunteers have operated a single-vehicle, skeleton ambulance service to the best of their limited abilities,’ the crew said in the letter.

‘As the service is no longer under the control of the two remaining directors of the AAS company, we feel that the continuation of our dispute with them is no longer best served by continuing to withhold our skills from the emergency service we love.

‘Between our chief officer and crew, we have a combined total of over 120 years of front-line ambulance experience. Our Chief Officer alone has attended around 4,000 ambulance calls in her 27-plus years of service. It would be a tragic waste if those skills and experience were not harnessed for the benefit of the Alderney community.’

They offered to return to duty, under the leadership of Mrs Walden, for a minimum of six months.

This would be on precisely the same basis as their service with AAS Ltd, but working for and reporting to the States via a Policy & Finances appointee.

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Dr Aaron Pennell, former medical director of AAS Ltd, has offered his services, on an expenses-only basis as acting medical advisor, effective from the date of return to duty. He has also offered two of the senior paramedic staff of his company, Emergency Doctors Medical Service Ltd (EDMS), to assist with training, policies and practice.

‘Any of the new volunteers who wish to stay on call would be welcomed by us, mentored and receive training towards ACA and EMT qualifications,’ the crew wrote.

‘The Fire Officer and his crew members would be released from a task that they have been obliged to undertake, but which they didn’t sign up for as firefighters.

‘The safety benefit of this is obvious in cases where both emergency services are called to an incident involving a serious fire risk and the treatment and transport of casualties.’

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As well as providing an immediate return of a fully-trained, two-vehicle operation, crew hoped the six-month period would also allow time for the States to fully investigate the circumstances leading up to the collapse of AAS.

‘It would give time for the States to properly consider all options for future ambulance service provision, including, but not limited to, the recovery plan put forward to States Members by Mrs Walden.

‘The ambulance dispute has created deep rifts in our small community and caused harm to the reputations of people who have only ever tried to provide the best ambulance service for Alderney.

‘It has resulted in a reduced ambulance cover and tied up human resources of the Fire Service, reducing their resilience.’

Zoe Fitch

By Zoe Fitch
News reporter

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