Letters

Occasionally things go wrong in ambulance services and critical headlines follow. It would be nice to balance that with praise and recognition when staff demonstrate bravery and courage in their service to the public.

So I hope ambulance services from across the UK will join me in expressing disappointment at the absence of acknowledgement in HSJ of the crucial role played by London Ambulance Service staff at the scene of the tragic Paddington rail crash.

Our first ambulance arrived at the trackside within 10 minutes and was met with a scene of appalling carnage.

It would be wrong to go into detail, but the task facing LAS crews was one they will never wish to face again.

More than 200 operational and support staff were deployed at the scene, with more than 40 ambulances, four motorcycle response units and many other vehicles. A further 100 staff were involved in the incident working from our Waterloo HQ, hospitals and New Scotland Yard.

Assistance was gratefully received from St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and neighbouring ambulance service colleagues. A total of 126 casualties were conveyed to a number of London hospitals.

LAS immediately organised an occupational health reception centre at our Fulham training centre, where all staff involved at the scene were given access to counselling and welfare services.

We, along with other emergency services, were the centre of world media attention. An LAS press officer was quickly on scene and within a very short time, and with very little information, I and others were doing interviews with media outlets as far away as Australia and the US. For days after the event LAS allowed the media access to many of our staff who attended the scene.

We were proud of the magnificent response of our frontline crews and the support services. I am sure the rest of the NHS, of which ambulance services are an integral part, are equally proud.

The role of the ambulance service in this dreadful incident has been publicly praised by the Queen, Prince Charles, then health secretary Frank Dobson and many others, including national and local media. I hope that by publishing this letter the HSJ will demonstrate its association with that praise.

David Jervis Director of communications London Ambulance Service trust