Archbishop praises ambulance service after 'year of atrocities'

13 December 2017

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby visited ambulance crews today (13 December) to hear their experiences following this year’s terrorist attacks.

He visited the control room where 999 calls are answered, as well as the specialist operations centre, where major incidents, such as the attacks in London Bridge and Westminster, are coordinated from.

He said: “This vital operations centre has sadly been in use too many times during the atrocities of this year. During these events, we have seen the true heroism of the ambulance crews, police, fire service and security forces who have worked in extremely difficult situations to keep us safe and save lives.”

The Archbishop met frontline staff who attended the terror attacks and the fire at Grenfell Tower and spoke to members of the Service’s Christian Fellowship about how their faith helps them in their job.

Paramedic Reverend Simon Woodmore attended the attacks at London Bridge and Westminster and the fire at Grenfell Tower. He said: “With the incidents happening so close together, it has been hard to recover in between, but through it all, you see the true spirit of the ambulance service and the way we support and look after one another.”

Jo Burchell worked in the specialist operations centre during the London Bridge attack as a radio operator. She said: “I was liaising with crews on scene and relaying messages back to the control room. It was stressful and extremely busy as the situation was constantly changing. I’ve worked on major incidents before, but nothing on that scale.”

The Archbishop was greeted at the ambulance service headquarters in Waterloo by Chairman Heather Lawrence OBE and Chief Executive Garrett Emmerson.

Garrett said: “I’m proud of the way our staff – both on the frontline and in our control rooms – responded to the incidents this year and we’re grateful to the Archbishop for recognising their hard work.”

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Notes to editors