Wiltshire Air Ambulance Family Room Makeover

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  • Author, Kelly Morgane
  • Role, BBC journalist in Wiltshire
  • Report of Semington, Wiltshire

Wiltshire Air Ambulance has revamped its air base family room with help from the community.

The room provides a safe space for grieving families and a welcoming environment for patients who want to reconnect with the pilots, intensive care paramedics and doctors who treated them at the emergency scene.

Located on the ground floor of the association’s Semington Air Force Base, it provides comfort away from the operational side of the service.

Local businesses and volunteers came together to complete the transformation.

Legend, Louise Cox met patients she has already treated

Louise Cox is a Flight Operations Officer, Critical Care Paramedic Specialist at Wiltshire Air Ambulance and has met patients she has previously treated and their families.

“It can be very difficult for both the families and the crew,” Miss Cox said. “It’s important to secure a space and give people the opportunity to take the time they need.”

Miss Cox said that very often patients suffer from amnesia as a result of trauma or “memories they can’t really process”.

Meeting the crew in a safe space gives them the opportunity to answer questions and “help fill in the blanks”, Miss Cox said, adding “this can often lead to people making progress in their recovery both emotionally and physically”.

Legend, Julie Swain was treated by Wiltshire Air Ambulance in 2019 following a motorcycle accident

In 2019, Julie Swain and her partner were 3 miles from home after a day out in Calne at a cycling event.

Miss Swain’s bicycle broke down and, while she was being driven home, she had an accident which left her with a life-threatening brain haemorrhage.

After weeks in hospital, Miss Swain and her partner Adam visited the team who treated her.

“Even though I don’t remember anything, Adam went through all of that and I think it was a good thing for him too,” Miss Swain said.

Discovering information Miss Swain didn’t remember helped her recovery, she said: “It fills in the gaps.”

She added: “And it was nice to connect with them (the crew) and thank them.”

Reacting to the new family room, Miss Swain said: “It’s very comfortable.

“Anything that puts you in a more comfortable position should be an improvement.”

Legend, Katy Burke, Sales Director, Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Katy Burke, from the charity, was the project manager for the family room renovation.

Previously the room looked more like a conference room and Ms Burke felt it was not fit for purpose. “I wanted to make it a warm, friendly living room-like environment,” she said.

As a charity, Wiltshire Air Ambulance relies on the community it serves for its survival and the family room is no exception with sofas donated by a local furniture store and volunteers painting, cleaning, assembling furniture and providing carpentry skills.

Ms Burke said: “It was a massive community effort.

“Everyone coming together to make this (the family room renovation) happen for the community has really, I hope, been a passion project, not only for me but for these guys as well.”

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