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Belfast Live
Belfast Live
Nadia Breen

Two NI ambulance service workers 'overwhelmed' after being honoured for helping saving lives

Two Northern Ireland paramedics have said they are 'overwhelmed' after being named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) Area Manager Sean Mullan from Dungannon was awarded an MBE after being nominated by a colleague.

The 57-year-old has been working in the service since 1991 and is also a retired volunteer firefighter.

Read more: Queen's Platinum Jubilee: 42-gun salute heralds start of celebrations in NI

Altnagelvin Station Supervisor Craig Wilson from Co Derry received the Queen’s Ambulance Medal after being submitted by a colleague "who has always recognised his huge potential for helping everyone he meets".

The 49-year-old has being working for the NIAS for 26 years.

Co Tyrone man Sean, who is a dad-of-four and grandfather-of-three, told Belfast Live : "When I found out about the MBE, I received an email and when I read it, I initially thought it was spam.

"I went to speak to [my colleague] Mark who said, 'That's not spam son, that's real.' Then I realised it was Mark who put forward the initial nomination.

"I absolutely felt overwhelmed. Initially I thought there were people more deserving than me to get this award, but at the same time, very humbled. For me, it was an acknowledgement of all the years that I've done.

"It's a nice reflection on what I have been trying to do."

Sean added that his family are extremely proud, especially as his sister Eileen received an MBE last year.

"My dad is 91 and for any parent to have two children with an MBE... it's a big thing for him. It's brilliant.

"My job is both rewarding and difficult. When I first joined the job, it was my sister who thought I would be most appropriate.

"I thought, 'I'll give it a go and if I can make a difference to just one person, then it'll be all worth it'. Little did I know that I'd make a difference to countless [people].

"The job can be difficult and we see people at their most vulnerable time, their most sensitive time, but I've always said this, it is very much a humbling privilege to be with people and help them... should that be end of life, people beginning their live, people with an illness or those injured," he told Belfast Live.

Sean's citation read: "Sean commenced his career in the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service in 1991 when he was employed as an Emergency Medical Technician. He qualified as a Paramedic in 1995 and became a Paramedic Supervisor in 2002.

Sean Mullan (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service)

"In 2009, he brought his high standards of clinical care, knowledge and excellence to the role of Clinical Support Officer, before progressing to the position of paramedic Station Officer in 2012.

"Sean has received numerous letters of appreciation from patients and their families reflecting the high standard of frontline care he continually provides on behalf of NIAS.

"His natural ability to lead and nurture both new and experienced ambulance staff has earned him the respect of staff and managers alike. He has helped his colleagues of all levels by promoting their education and development through additional input.

"Most recently, Sean has been at the forefront of helping establish a Retired Officers Association, demonstrating his desire to ensure that past colleagues remain valued for their contribution to the Service.

"In 2019 he successfully completed his BSc Honours Degree in Paramedic Studies at University of Limerick, achieving a long held ambition."

It added: "Sean’s enthusiasm for prehospital care is inspirational. He works hard to promote the ambulance service both outside and inside the organisation. He has also made a significant contribution to his local community. He was a volunteer firefighter with the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service from which he has now retired having achieved the rank of Crew Commander.

"Sean is a passionate advocate and supporter of the local branch of NI Downs Syndrome Association, assisting those with special needs to compete in Special Olympic events, particularly swimming.

"For several years Sean has also used his clinical and social skills as a Lourdes Volunteer with his local Parish, and has accompanied several annual pilgrimages.

"During COVID-19, he personally attended calls to provide practical support to crews with regard to PPE and management of patients with COVID-19 symptoms.

"During this time, he was actively involved in numerous resuscitation calls, including a child of just 11 months. Sean is diligent about providing ‘hot debriefs’ and peer support follow up and is rightly regarded as the ‘go-to’ person for advice.”

Altnagelvin Station Supervisor Craig Wilson who received the Queen’s Ambulance Medal was also nominated by a colleague.

Craig Wilson (Northern Ireland Ambulance Service)

The citation read: “Craig joined the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service in 1996 as an Ambulance Care Attendant before qualifying as an Emergency Medical Technician in 1998.

"In 2019 he became a Station Supervisor in Altnagelvin Ambulance Station where he managed 100 staff of varying grades. Although a role historically held by paramedics, Craig rose very quickly to the challenge of ensuring staff and patient safety throughout a Pandemic.

"Craig will also be seen at incidents alongside crews, supporting them after tough calls or coaching newer staff members to get the best from them. Craig is passionate about ensuring that his staff provide the best care possible to the surrounding population and he has worked tirelessly to support them. Whilst working as a Supervisor, Craig realised that building good relationships with other Health Care Trusts was key in ensuring that his crews were available to serve the local community and in 2021 took up the dual role of Supervisor and Hospital Ambulance Liaison Officer.

"The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service receives constant positive feedback from Craig’s colleagues, managers and the local hospital clinical teams who have found that his excellent communication skills, passion about patient welfare and ability to step up to a very challenging role in the midst of a crisis, instils confidence in others. His proactive management style and open door policy means he is admired by his peers and staff alike, Craig is an exceptional role model.

"Craig believes that he can be a force for change and his concern for his colleagues’ welfare has led him to being a Union Representative which provides a link between his colleagues, his union and managers. In this role Craig believes he can affect change with his innovative and inventive ideas. He is a role model for all staff in the Operational environment, going that extra mile to ensure staff feel safe, valued and empowered to complete their roles. Craig has also become an ambassador for the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service in his work alongside other emergency services representing the service when planning for large events that have the potential to cause operational difficulties for the blue light services.

"In the past, Craig has been recognised for his bravery in rescuing a patient from a burning building.

"Craig is an individual with exceptional problem solving skills. His calm, caring, industrious nature has been instrumental in guiding many through the current Covid-19 Pandemic as he continually implements systems and practices to ensure the health and well-being of staff and the safety of our patients.”

The father-of-two told Belfast Live said he was "really surprised" when he was told about the medal via email.

He said: "I just couldn't believe it. I was shocked to be honest.

"I was really surprised and shocked but I did feel humbled that somebody would think about putting me forward.

"I was really overwhelmed. My sons knew nothing about it, I didn't tell them about it until the time so that they'd have the same surprise I had.

"I find my job really rewarding and it is a difficult job.

"I be really proud of the people I work with, I really do, the job that they do. I love my job and I think it is probably one of the best jobs anybody can do. It is so rewarding."

Read more: Belfast search and rescue team receive Queen's Award

Read more: Arlene Foster “thrilled and delighted” to be a Dame

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