Ambulances moved as chief meets sacked paramedic

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith

First published in News

MORE ambulances have been stationed near Faringdon following the sacking of a volunteer paramedic for breaking the speed limit on his way to an emergency.

Godfrey Smith’s 15-year service as a community first responder with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) was ended in July.

Mr Smith drove at 33mph in a 20mph zone in Oxford on his way to a man who had collapsed with breathing problems in St Clement’s.

SCAS launched a review into the sacking after chief executive Will Hancock met Mr Smith – who is known as Gof and lives in Faringdon – last week. Mr Hancock, speaking for the first time about the meeting, said: “I am certainly hoping to see Gof again in the next couple of weeks.

“We had a long initial meeting on Friday and there was a lot of stuff he wanted to share with me.

“All I have said to him is that I will be looking at it afresh with an open mind.”

Mr Hancock said SCAS had put an extra ambulance into Witney and Wantage “just to make sure” the area had emergency cover.

Mr Smith, 64, said: “As long as it is a proper, in-depth review I do not mind how long it takes. But I want to get back – of course I do.”

But he doubted whether ambulances stationed in Witney and Wantage would be able to respond to an emergency in Faringdon within the target of eight minutes.

Since Mr Smith was sacked, 1,115 people have signed a petition to have him reinstated and his son, Matthew, 19, has resigned as a responder. Mr Smith said there were now only three community responders in Faringdon.

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Comments (9)

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10:11am Sat 28 Sep 13

matty99 says...

It was emergency traffic had parted and he was trying to get to collapsed man, the police constantly break speed limits when in pursuit of so called "joy riders" the guy was not driving dangerously, if he had driven like a snail and man had died there would be hell to pay!
It was emergency traffic had parted and he was trying to get to collapsed man, the police constantly break speed limits when in pursuit of so called "joy riders" the guy was not driving dangerously, if he had driven like a snail and man had died there would be hell to pay! matty99
  • Score: -15

10:33pm Sat 28 Sep 13

faatmaan says...

whats the cost of life,these people make educated guesses when traveling as fast as they can to an emergency,surely the speed limit is irrelevant if it is a bona fide emergency call, like police and fire ?
whats the cost of life,these people make educated guesses when traveling as fast as they can to an emergency,surely the speed limit is irrelevant if it is a bona fide emergency call, like police and fire ? faatmaan
  • Score: -49

10:52am Sun 29 Sep 13

Anonnn says...

Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines.
Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines. Anonnn
  • Score: -10

6:14pm Sun 29 Sep 13

davellh says...

Wantage and Witney are both twelve miles from Faringdon. If an ambulance has to get here from either town in eight minutes, it will need to do an AVERAGE speed of 90 mph along a single carriageway road with at least two villages to negotiate. Great for road safety!
Wantage and Witney are both twelve miles from Faringdon. If an ambulance has to get here from either town in eight minutes, it will need to do an AVERAGE speed of 90 mph along a single carriageway road with at least two villages to negotiate. Great for road safety! davellh
  • Score: -1

11:07pm Sun 29 Sep 13

responder299 says...

Anonnn wrote:
Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines.
Annon is absolutely correct. I am the responder who got into trouble and I am definitely not a paramedic. Oxford Mail get it right please
[quote][p][bold]Anonnn[/bold] wrote: Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines.[/p][/quote]Annon is absolutely correct. I am the responder who got into trouble and I am definitely not a paramedic. Oxford Mail get it right please responder299
  • Score: 6

11:53pm Sun 29 Sep 13

responder299 says...

Anonnn wrote:
Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines.
I am the volunteer community responder who has been dismissed for going around the wrong side of a bollard and driving at 33mph in Oxford High Street whilst attending a call to a collapse/difficulty breathing patient.
Annon is absolutely correct. I am NOT a paramedic and the Oxford Mail have got it wrong. Paramedic is a protected title proudly held by registered professional ambulance personnel who have worked very hard to achieve that status. As a responder, it was always good to know that they and their professional colleagues were always en route to take over after we had done our best to preserve life using simple basic life support skills or, more often than not, simply hold a patient's hand until their arrival.
Volunteer community first responders like I was do not have the right to break any road traffic laws whilst attending an incident. We are not trained to exceed speed limits or drive on 'blues and twos" and none that I know want to. Normally, we only cover a 3 mile radius from our homes so there is no need to speed. Those few advocating that we should be allowed to do this are wrong.
I accept that what I did was wrong but I submit that there were some mitigating circumstances. I was hemmed in by traffic (so I went the wrong side around a bollard) and I had not passed any signs telling me that I was in a 20mph limit. The NHS supplied satnav had not been updated and was indicating a 30mph speed limit. I was in a city which I didn't know well and helping out after answering an appeal by the Emergency Operations Centre in Bicester during a particularly busy period when the ambulance service had gone to "escalation level 2" (don't ask me what that means but apparently it's not good). Whilst driving, I always undertake dynamic risk assessments, which I did on this occasion. Contrary to what some people might think, there was no danger to life or limb by going around the bollard.
With hindsight, it would have been better if I hadn't agreed to go into Oxford at all but I wanted to help out the lovely staff in the controlroom who were struggling with a lack of resources. Also, perhaps I should have phoned control to say I was hemmed in and couldn't attend the incident. Hindsight is great isn't it?
It is right to report that I have a previous conviction (TS20 - 3 points) for driving over a white line whilst retrieving an expensive piece of medical equipment which an ambulance crew had accidentally taken to the JR after a serious incident I had helped with. The ambulance service did not record any points on my driving record for that offence.
I firmly believe that my dismissal was a brutal punishment for what I did. The investigating officer (a magistrate) said I would probably get a "couple of points on my SCAS driving record" and that he would "arrange for an instructor to take me on a short driving test the following week". I actually believe that the punishment was higher because a senior officer found out that I was about to become an NHS 'whistleblower'. But as an NHS volunteer, I have no protection from the consequences do I? According to the same senior officer, I don't have any rights at all!
I remain very upset that, after 15 years, I am unable to respond to people in serious trouble in and around Faringdon. I am also sad that my 19 year old son, who helped to save 2 lives in the 3 months he was a Faringdon responder has resigned because "I don't want what happened to Dad to happen to me in 10 years time". Unbeknown to many, he had just agreed to become the first ever responder for South Central Ambulance Service at Winchester University where he is now a student.
I and my colleagues would like to thank the thousands of people who are supporting me, including over 1000 online and 550 in local petitions asking for my reinstatement. I am fighting for reinstatement not just for me but for the many lovely people in Faringdon who want me back.
Gof Smith
[quote][p][bold]Anonnn[/bold] wrote: Oxford Mail get it wrong once again, confusing the public! "Sacked Paramedic"..... nope. This chap is not a Paramedic and can not drive on blue lights. Oxford Mail there is a huge difference between a Paramedic and a Community Responder, please please stop writing false headlines.[/p][/quote]I am the volunteer community responder who has been dismissed for going around the wrong side of a bollard and driving at 33mph in Oxford High Street whilst attending a call to a collapse/difficulty breathing patient. Annon is absolutely correct. I am NOT a paramedic and the Oxford Mail have got it wrong. Paramedic is a protected title proudly held by registered professional ambulance personnel who have worked very hard to achieve that status. As a responder, it was always good to know that they and their professional colleagues were always en route to take over after we had done our best to preserve life using simple basic life support skills or, more often than not, simply hold a patient's hand until their arrival. Volunteer community first responders like I was do not have the right to break any road traffic laws whilst attending an incident. We are not trained to exceed speed limits or drive on 'blues and twos" and none that I know want to. Normally, we only cover a 3 mile radius from our homes so there is no need to speed. Those few advocating that we should be allowed to do this are wrong. I accept that what I did was wrong but I submit that there were some mitigating circumstances. I was hemmed in by traffic (so I went the wrong side around a bollard) and I had not passed any signs telling me that I was in a 20mph limit. The NHS supplied satnav had not been updated and was indicating a 30mph speed limit. I was in a city which I didn't know well and helping out after answering an appeal by the Emergency Operations Centre in Bicester during a particularly busy period when the ambulance service had gone to "escalation level 2" (don't ask me what that means but apparently it's not good). Whilst driving, I always undertake dynamic risk assessments, which I did on this occasion. Contrary to what some people might think, there was no danger to life or limb by going around the bollard. With hindsight, it would have been better if I hadn't agreed to go into Oxford at all but I wanted to help out the lovely staff in the controlroom who were struggling with a lack of resources. Also, perhaps I should have phoned control to say I was hemmed in and couldn't attend the incident. Hindsight is great isn't it? It is right to report that I have a previous conviction (TS20 - 3 points) for driving over a white line whilst retrieving an expensive piece of medical equipment which an ambulance crew had accidentally taken to the JR after a serious incident I had helped with. The ambulance service did not record any points on my driving record for that offence. I firmly believe that my dismissal was a brutal punishment for what I did. The investigating officer (a magistrate) said I would probably get a "couple of points on my SCAS driving record" and that he would "arrange for an instructor to take me on a short driving test the following week". I actually believe that the punishment was higher because a senior officer found out that I was about to become an NHS 'whistleblower'. But as an NHS volunteer, I have no protection from the consequences do I? According to the same senior officer, I don't have any rights at all! I remain very upset that, after 15 years, I am unable to respond to people in serious trouble in and around Faringdon. I am also sad that my 19 year old son, who helped to save 2 lives in the 3 months he was a Faringdon responder has resigned because "I don't want what happened to Dad to happen to me in 10 years time". Unbeknown to many, he had just agreed to become the first ever responder for South Central Ambulance Service at Winchester University where he is now a student. I and my colleagues would like to thank the thousands of people who are supporting me, including over 1000 online and 550 in local petitions asking for my reinstatement. I am fighting for reinstatement not just for me but for the many lovely people in Faringdon who want me back. Gof Smith responder299
  • Score: 12

10:19am Mon 30 Sep 13

Anonnn says...

Fair play Gof. Nothing against you, just the Oxford Mail who have a habit of getting it all a bit wrong in order to make headlines! Public are already confused about the different roles within the Ambulance Service and this kind of reporting does not help.
Fair play Gof. Nothing against you, just the Oxford Mail who have a habit of getting it all a bit wrong in order to make headlines! Public are already confused about the different roles within the Ambulance Service and this kind of reporting does not help. Anonnn
  • Score: 3

11:29am Mon 30 Sep 13

responder299 says...

Anonnn wrote:
Fair play Gof. Nothing against you, just the Oxford Mail who have a habit of getting it all a bit wrong in order to make headlines! Public are already confused about the different roles within the Ambulance Service and this kind of reporting does not help.
Pleased to clarify the point.
[quote][p][bold]Anonnn[/bold] wrote: Fair play Gof. Nothing against you, just the Oxford Mail who have a habit of getting it all a bit wrong in order to make headlines! Public are already confused about the different roles within the Ambulance Service and this kind of reporting does not help.[/p][/quote]Pleased to clarify the point. responder299
  • Score: 3

5:22pm Mon 14 Oct 13

simonkent says...

I've been deeply moved by Gof's experience. In his contrite statement you can hear his desire to be allowed to return to help the people of his community, when they are most in need, the only option for him being to fling himself on the floor for mercy.

Good luck with the review Gof one can only hope common sense will prevail. Keep an eye out because the time is long overdue when the voice of the patient in the South is heard over those who are supposed to be serving us. Lift your eyes North where CFRs are better trained, drive on blue lights in marked vehicles, can offer far more by way of treatment and are deeply valued and respected by both their Trust Masters and the Public.
I've been deeply moved by Gof's experience. In his contrite statement you can hear his desire to be allowed to return to help the people of his community, when they are most in need, the only option for him being to fling himself on the floor for mercy. Good luck with the review Gof one can only hope common sense will prevail. Keep an eye out because the time is long overdue when the voice of the patient in the South is heard over those who are supposed to be serving us. Lift your eyes North where CFRs are better trained, drive on blue lights in marked vehicles, can offer far more by way of treatment and are deeply valued and respected by both their Trust Masters and the Public. simonkent
  • Score: 0

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