THE Welsh Ambulance Service is celebrating its service men and women past and present for Armed Forces Week (21-27 June).
Dozens of veterans work across the organisation having served in the Armed Forces, and are supported by a growing number of reservists.
More than 200 British Army soldiers also assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.
Among them were members of 9 Regiment RLC, 1 RIFLES and 3 R WELSH.
Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “There are a lot of similarities between the Armed Forces and emergency services, not to mention the transferrable skills, so it’s no surprise that members of that community will gravitate towards a career in the ambulance service.
“We’re extremely proud of the veterans who work in the service, and of our growing number of reservists too.
“We have a long-standing relationship with the military and were very grateful to have secured their support in the collective effort against Covid-19.
“We hope that their glimpse into the world of the ambulance service was as rewarding an experience for them as it was for us.”
Andy Haywood, Royal Navy Officer turned Director of Digital Services, and the Trust’s Armed Forces Champion, added: “Armed Forces Week is a wonderful way to recognise the contribution of our veterans, and the unique set of skills and experience they bring to the role.
“Our work with the military through the Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened our existing relationships with the Armed Forces community and opened up new opportunities for collaboration in future.”
Mark Cadman is the Trust’s Ambulance Operations Manager for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board area.
He joined the Royal Navy in 1991 as a midshipman, and later completed his nursing degree at the University of Wales College of Medicine before pursuing a career as an emergency specialist nurse.
He is an active Army Reservist, and has served in Afghanistan on four occasions, as well as in Iraq.
In 2019, he was appointed Commanding Officer 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment.
The father-of-three said: “My Armed Forces and NHS career have run parallel for pretty much all of my adult life, and there are so many transferrable skills.
“The soldiers that supported us in the Covid-19 pandemic were brilliant and had a real ‘can do’ attitude, even if they were out of their comfort zone.
“They jumped straight into the role and got along brilliantly with our crews; we were sad to see them leave.”
In 2019, the Trust signed Step into Health’s Armed Forces Covenant and pledged to support members of the Armed Forces community to gain employment in the NHS.
It also recruited Veterans Champions from across the Trust to support new starters to make the transition into civilian life and provide one-to-one support and mentorship.
Claire Vaughan, Director of Workforce and Organisational Development, said: “Our work with the Armed Forces community has shown us time and again the direct correlation between the values held by those in the military and our own Trust behaviours.
“We felt that recruiting Veterans Champions was a great opportunity to help those from the Armed Forces integrate themselves into a new work environment, and give them additional support as they adjust into a new way of life.”
Kevin Davies is the Trust’s Vice Chair and a Non-Executive Director, and has a near 40-year career in army nursing having joined the Territorial Army in 1983.
Last year, he was appointed Colonel Commandant Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps (QARANC).
Kevin said: “I want to take the opportunity to recognise the contribution of all of our service personnel, whether veteran or reservist, and also pay tribute to the soldiers who integrated into the ambulance family so well during the pandemic.
“Your response to the challenge, your resilience throughout and your commitment to the people of Wales was exemplary – thank you for all that you do.”
Armed Forces Week culminates in Armed Forces Day on Saturday 26 June, an annual event in which people are invited to show their support to the Armed Forces community.
Record and upload a video to social media in which you pay tribute to someone you know who serves or has served in the Armed Forces, and make sure to use the hashtag #ArmedForcesDay.
Reserves Day is also being celebrated on Wednesday 23 June to recognise the valuable contribution that reservists make to our Armed Forces.
Keep up to date on the Armed Forces Day Facebook and Twitter pages, and find out all of the latest news at www.armedforcesday.org.uk