'Tireless' paramedic receives national award for outstanding service

'Tireless' paramedic receives national award for outstanding service

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A dedicated EMAS paramedic who mentors new staff, goes the extra mile for her patients and even set up a homeless shelter over the winter, has received a national ambulance award.

Tracy Cunningham, 52, was selected to receive the national ‘Outstanding Service’ award from the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives at their Gala Awards Dinner last night.

The Derbyshire-based Paramedic was nominated by the division’s general manager for always “going above and beyond”, both in work and for her local community in Ilkeston.

Yet Tracy was surprised to receive an email telling her she had been selected for the Outstanding Service award.

She said: “I had to read the email three times, and I was so shocked. It’s nice to be noticed for making a difference.”

 “I do everything that I do because I love being a paramedic, I always have. So that’s why I have ended up with fingers in all the pies – I like to be involved with as much as I can and I want to make a difference. I don’t stop, I’m always on the go.”

As well as her professional development and saving lives in her day job, Tracy mentors new staff, coaching and encouraging them throughout the first few years of their career, and offers emotional support to colleagues as a Peer to Peer volunteer.

And this winter, Tracy launched a homeless shelter on Christmas Day in conjunction with her church. This shelter provided overnight shelter for 50 people who would otherwise have been sleeping rough in freezing temperatures throughout January and February.

Most impressively, Tracy worked with the council to get 11 of their guests into permanent accommodation.

Tracy said: “The whole project came from a Facebook post from someone about the homeless in Ilkeston, so I commented and said I wanted to help.

“We provided beds, dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch, and people donated new shoes, mobile phones, bicycles, bus tickets, haircuts, foot care, and new clothes. It was all run through donations. 

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“They are all normal people who have just had a bit of bad luck and have been left very vulnerable. After years of trying to help homeless people on the road, I knew I needed to do something.”

Tracy explained that she has wanted to be a paramedic since she saw an ambulance crew performing CPR on a patient who had collapsed in the street near her school in Heanor.

However, on leaving school, Tracy joined the airport police at East Midlands Airport. It wasn’t until she was 35 that she made the brave decision to join EMAS as a direct entry ambulance Technician, based at Ilkeston Ambulance Station.

After five years, Tracy progressed to become a Paramedic, and since then has also completed a Foundation Degree and a BSc in Professional Practice from the University of Northampton. 

More recently, Tracy was selected to be part of an exciting new project – ‘Rotating paramedics’ a national pilot with Health Education England. This pilot included working in our Emergency Operations Centres (EOC), community-based multi-disciplinary teams and GP practices, all on a rotational basis.

The aim of the model is to reduce conveyances to A&E, thereby reducing demand on ambulance services and hospitals, as well as to support paramedic career development.

The awards were held at the Ambulance Leadership Forum conference in Warwick.