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Family room makeover at Wiltshire Air Ambulance

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  • Author, Kelly Morgan
  • Role, BBC Wiltshire reporter
  • Reporting from Semington, Wiltshire

Wiltshire Air Ambulance has given the airbase family room a makeover with help from the community.

The room provides a safe space for grieving families and a welcoming environment for patients looking to reconnect with the pilots, intensive care paramedics and doctors who treated them at the scene of emergency.

Located on the ground floor of the charity’s air base in Semington, it provides comfort beyond the operational side of the service.

Local businesses and volunteers came together to complete the makeover.

Image caption, Louise Cox has met patients she has treated before

Louise Cox is an Air Operations Officer Specialist Paramedic Critical Care at Wiltshire Air Ambulance and has met patients she has previously treated and their families.

“It can be very difficult for both the families and the crew,” Miss Cox said. “It’s important that we secure a space and give people the opportunity to take the time they need.”

Ms Cox said patients often suffer from memory loss after trauma or “memories they can’t quite process”.

Meeting the crew in a safe space gives them the chance to answer questions and “help fill in the blanks,” Miss Cox said, adding “that can often lead to people making progress both emotionally and physically in their recovery”.

Image caption, Julie Swain was treated by Wiltshire Air Ambulance in 2019 after a motorcycle accident

In 2019, Julie Swain and her partner were 3 miles from home after a day in Calne at a cycling event.

Miss Swain’s bicycle broke down and while she was being taken home she had an accident which left her with a life-threatening brain haemorrhage.

After weeks in hospital, Miss Swain and partner Adam visited the crew who treated her.

“Although I don’t remember any of it, Adam went through it all and I think it was good for him too,” Miss Swain said.

Discovering information that Miss Swain could not remember helped her recovery. She said, “It fills in the gaps.”

She added: “And it was good to actually connect with them (the crew) and thank them.”

Commenting on the new family room, Mrs Swain said: ‘It’s very comfortable.

“Anything that puts you in a more comfortable position should be an improvement.”

Image caption, Katy Burke, business manager for Wiltshire Air Ambulance

Katy Burke from the charity was the project leader for the family room makeover.

Previously the room looked more like a meeting room and Ms Burke felt it was not fit for purpose. “I wanted to make it a warm, friendly, living room-like environment,” she said.

As a charity, Wiltshire Air Ambulance depends on the community it serves for its survival. The family room was no exception, with couches donated by a local furniture store, and volunteers painting, cleaning, assembling furniture and offering carpentry skills.

Mrs Burke said: “It was a huge community effort.

“Everyone coming together to put this (the family room makeover) together for the community has, I hope, really been a passion project, not just for me, but for those guys.”

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