Buxton paramedic honoured by Queen for 40 years service

A Buxton paramedic of over 40 years has been recognised for his frontline service in the New Year's Honours List.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 11:45 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 3:23 pm

Thomas Bailey, 64, based at Buxton Ambulance Station, received the prestigious Queen’s Ambulance Service Medal for Distinguished Service.

He was nominated for his four decades caring for emergency patients, setting up a cave rescue service for patients having also recently fought and defeated cancer.

Thomas joined Derbyshire Ambulance Service in September 1979 - originally based at New Mills - before it became East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) and was one of the first in the service to undertake paramedic training.

Thomas with crew mate Kerry Norman

Working in the Peak District alongside the Derbyshire Cave Rescue Organisation he set up the EMAS Cave Rescue Support Unit in 2000.

He spent more than 24 hours underground overseeing the safety and emergency treatment of patients on several occasions.

Thomas received an award for risking his life when rescuing a patient who had fallen 60 feet into a large silo at Tunstead Quarry - by climbing into the silo to treat the patient until the full rescue team could arrive.

The father-of-four told how he and a colleague were called to the works in 2003 after reports a worker had fallen into the limestone hopper - a large storage tank from which the stone is processed.

Thomas on-board an ambulance during a shift

Firefighters lowered Thomas into the tank with a rope - where he was able to reach the injured man and administer fluids, pain relief and cannulation.

After being hauled back up to the surface the wounded worker made a good recovery - although he did receive a brain injury.

Thomas said: "As they lowered me into the tank I was spinning around as the contractor's rope I borrowed was not normal climbing rope.

"But it was a really good result - if I had not had caving training I could not have done it."

The honours medal - which will be presented at Buckingham Palace in London - recognises ambulance personnel who have shown exceptional devotion to duty, outstanding ability, merit and conduct in their role.

Thomas said: “When I first opened the letter I didn’t think it was real.

“I was so surprised – although I have been saying for years I would have to write to the Queen because she kept missing me off the list.

“I really am honoured, literally - I’m very proud not just for me but for the ambulance service and all my colleagues who turn up to difficult situations day in, day out, to help someone.”

Dedicated medic Thomas sought training in interosseous injection - injecting directly into bone marrow - and paediatric intubation - which involves putting a tube into the airway of a child - long before they became part of the paramedic skillset.

He also became an accredited instructor to ensure new staff received the best start to their career as possible.

He said: “There is not much better than going out to help people - to be able to walk into someone’s crisis and help them so that there is a positive outcome is a real privilege.

“My career has been successful because of the people I have met along the way who have encouraged me and supported me and I have been very lucky to have had one good crew mate after another.”

Three years ago Thomas was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer in his hip and had to undergo surgery.

Despite being told he would probably need to give up work Thomas was back in the driving seat after just six months and has no intentions of retiring yet.

EMAS Chief Executive Richard Henderson said: “I am delighted for Thomas that he has been named in the New Year Honours list.

“His dedication to EMAS over the last 40 years is truly inspiring and he has been a fantastic mentor to many ambulance colleagues in the early days of their careers.”

Peter Bainbridge, Ambulance Operations Manager for Derbyshire, said Thomas had been an inspirational mentor to new colleagues joining the service and was instrumental in the training and encouragement of generations of new ambulance crews.

He said: “Thomas has been an exemplary leader and has gone way above the expected level of dedication expected of staff.

“His calm and professional approach ensures that learning with him is very well delivered - and he continues to be a leader and an inspiration to the hundreds of staff who have had the pleasure of working alongside him.”

Thomas is one of only four ambulance colleagues from the UK ambulance services to receive the award this year.