Publish date: 2 May 2024

Louise WalkerWeblarge.jpg

A member of the IW Ambulance Service has been awarded the prestigious King’s Ambulance Medal (KAM) at a recent ceremony in London.

Louise Walker, Head of Education & Community Response for the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service is one of a small select group of people in the country to be recognised in this way.

Louise was announced in the King’s New Year Honours List and has been recognised for her exceptional devotion to duty, outstanding ability, merit and conduct in her role within the IOW Ambulance Service.

Receiving her medal from Anne, Princess Royal at a recent ceremony held at Windsor Castle, Louise said: “It was an absolute pleasure. I felt very proud to be wearing the ambulance uniform and to be there representing the Isle of Wight NHS Trust and all the things we believe in and work hard to achieve. When receiving that medal, quite honestly, I was just thinking about the teams and people around me because they were the reason why I was there receiving it. It was wonderful to be able to share that moment with my family too."

Louise has been instrumental in expanding the availability of public access defibrillators (PADs) across the Island and is known to many of the Island’s schools and businesses through accredited training which Louise and her team deliver.  As part of the services’ campaign to make every child a life saver, in 2022 alone, over 1000 island primary school children were taught cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Louise has also overseen and implemented Responder schemes in an aspiration to improve survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest.

Scott has been a Community First Responder for six years. Scott said: “ Getting to patients as quickly as possible is paramount to preserve life, prevent worsening, and promote recovery. Throughout my years as a Community First Responder, the support, dedication, and professionalism Louise has shown has been second to none. The knowledge Louise has is vital to the training she provides to make the scheme a success. I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this award.”

A huge part of Louise’s role is supporting people after a cardiac arrest, debriefing bystanders, and reuniting survivors with their rescuers.

Laura is a cardiac arrest survivor. In 2018 Laura had a cardiac arrest while she was at work. But thanks to her colleagues giving good CPR, and the use of a defibrillator, Laura survived against all the odds. Laura said: “I am really lucky to be here and if it wasn’t for the education and knowledge of my colleagues knowing CPR and giving such good quality CPR, and the use of a defibrillator (placed at the school by the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service), I 100% wouldn't be here. My husband wouldn’t have a wife and my children wouldn’t have a mum.”

Bob is a cardiac arrest survivor. In 2023 on Valentine's Day, Bob had a cardiac arrest whilst at home. But thanks to his wife, Gwen, giving good CPR, Bob survived.

Despite feeling overwhelmed with panic, Gwen called 999 and with support was able to give Bob CPR. Gwen said: “When Bob collapsed, my mind just emptied. I was hysterical and could feel the panic rising. After calling 999, this amazing lady calmly talked me through CPR. Although I wasn’t in the same room as her, I listened to every single word she said, and she was able to give me precise instructions. Even the paramedics said on arrival that the CPR was of such great quality. When I discovered that the call handler was just 21 and she had only been in the job 8 months, I realised how great her training had been and how essential her job was to keep Bob with us.”

Reflecting on his experience, Bob said: “With a great amount of help from the call handler, my dear wife saved my life. From the care I received to the medication I was given, the whole procedure was excellent from start to finish.”

Victoria White, Director of the Isle of Wight Ambulance Service said: “We are incredibly proud of Louise and all she has achieved, alongside her colleagues, and our amazing volunteers, who together have saved many lives and continue to provide an incredible service for our Island community.

“It is wonderful for Louise and the IW Ambulance Service to be recognised in this way. Receiving the King’s Ambulance Medal is very special and Louise and the service as a whole should take a moment to enjoy this recognition.”