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Setting record and saving lives in Cambridgeshire

By Antonia Brickell

Dan Cody
Dan Cody

For Dan Cody, being called out to nine separate serious medical emergencies, in Cambridgeshire and the East of England, during one day shift is nothing out of the ordinary.

Within a 12-hour stint, critical care paramedic Dan, who started work at 7am alongside his Magpas medical team members (a senior paramedic and doctor), was activated to Cambridgeshire to bring hospital-level care to two cardiac arrest cases, one patient in cardiac arrest and another who suffered a serious fall down some stairs in Bedfordshire, as well as to a serious assault and a patient with severe breathing difficulties in Peterborough, a cardiac arrest in Stevenage, a patient with significant burns in King’s Lynn and to a cardiac arrest patient in Luton.

At Magpas Air Ambulance, there are two parts to Dan’s role: being part of a pre-hospital emergency medical team (alongside a doctor) ready to deliver enhanced medical care to patients in life-threatening situations, and help bring skills and knowledge to a critical incident – skills that are in addition to those that the ambulance service paramedic crews can provide.

Having joined the ambulance service in 1998 and Magpas 11 years ago, Dan, who is now the charity’s clinical director, explains what motivates him to get up every day: “I feel I’m in a very privileged position to be able to help people in their most vulnerable moments when they are trusting in me and relying on me to help them – it’s something I’m extremely proud of.”

Dan joined Magpas because of its strong clinical reputation.

“It’s about being able to give patients the best care possible. I’m also passionate about helping the paramedic profession to progress,” Dan explains.

When asked what his passion for the charity boils down to, he replies: “It’s the ethos. As in, the organisation has stayed true to what it was created to do more than 47 years ago. Ultimately, it’s all about the patient. As the baton is passed on, everyone buys into what we are here for. For a lot of people working at the charity it’s not just a job, it means far more than that.”

As the summer temperatures continue to soar, so has the number of flying hours for the organisation. In June, Magpas Air Ambulance flew for the largest number of hours (in a month) on charity record, flying 3,600 miles (that works out at 39 hours and 20 minutes). In June and July so far, the Magpas medical team has been called out to life-threatening emergencies 120 times in Cambridgeshire alone (outside central Peterborough).

So why is the need for the service growing? Dan summarises: “Basically, the demand for healthcare is increasing and I’m talking about the need for every area of healthcare. People’s lifestyles are also changing and that has a big impact, for example there are a lot more cars on the road these days.

Cardiac arrests remain one of the most common incidents we’re called out to and with the sunny weather comes more sporting, DIY and farming related incidents. Sadly, violent crime is also on the increase.”

Over the years that Magpas has been around, the medical understanding and the specialist skills that go with it have evolved hugely. Dan points out: “There are people who would not be alive now, or would not have recovered as well as they have, had we not been there for them. As our service continues to innovate, we can do more and for more people. In other words, there is a greater call for our enhanced service and we can do more”.

Magpas Air Ambulance is fundraising for a new helicopter for Cambridgeshire. As a result of this next-generation aircraft, the Magpas doctor and paramedic team will be able to continue to deliver their care to an even greater number of patients in the area.

“It’s about delivering our Magpas Air Ambulance medical team to the widest geography by the quickest means,” said Dan. “With more support, even more lifesaving missions will be achieved.”


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