Last week Cardiff was at the centre of the largest security operation ever undertaken in the UK. Leaders from 28 countries were in town to attend the NATO summit and anyone in and around Cardiff cannot fail to have been impressed by the sight of huge numbers of police officers from around the country patrolling the streets, many of them armed with automatic weapons.
In fact there were more than ten thousand officers deployed. It is a sign of the times we live in that these precautions are necessary, and at the end of last week there will have been a collective sigh of relief, mingled with some pride that Wales and Cardiff and Newport had done the nation proud.
We have all heard of VIPs – very important people and from time to time we might go to an event when one of these types is around. What do you call someone like the President of the United States, though? Well it turns out these are VVIPs, very, very important people.
As you can imagine planning an event like the summit takes many months of careful preparation and a great deal of collaboration with many organisations, both in government at UK and Wales level, security forces, the police and many more. One element of the plan was thinking through what might happen if one of the VVIPs were to be taken ill, or if there had been some other kind of larger scale problem such as food poisoning, or even the possibility of some kind of security incident.
Nations take very seriously the health and well being of their leaders as you can imagine. In the weeks leading up to the summit, our emergency unit, critical care unit and theatres were visited by a number of embassies and officials from countries attending the summit, along with a White House team. This is because UHW was the designated receiving hospital for the region during the summit. As is normal in these circumstances they wanted to assure themselves about was the standard of care their leaders might expect to receive in the event of a problem and the kind of facilities that would be available and whether a VVIP could be looked after securely.
To say that they were impressed with what they saw would be a huge understatement, and we were delighted to receive a certificate from Dr Ronny Jackson, President Obama’s personal physician that reads:
“Your professionalism reflects great credit upon yourself and is in keeping with the highest traditions of medical care. Thank you for a job well done.”
It wasn’t just the VVIPs that we needed to think about though. What about all those police officers? What would they do if the needed medical attention? How about the protestors, what would happen if there was significant disorder and people go hurt? Our response to these challenges was lead by Angela Stephenson, the UHB’s Strategic Partnership and Planning Manager. Angela is clear that every part of the UHB played a role in the months of preparations for the summit, from operational service to staff in clinical boards. Angela is also pleased that the messages we relayed to the public about what we were doing were understood and we are grateful that the public played their part in minimising any disruption to our services.
Our primary care teams organised access for the police to their services for the duration – something that proved to be required when quite a few police officers suffered nasty insect bites as they searched undergrowth and bushes. Sharon O’Brien, the UHB’s Lead Nurse for Emergency Medicine, worked closely with the foreign teams to offer the reassurance that led to the endorsement from the White House.
She said: “During the Summit all the staff within the Emergency Unit were incredibly professional working with all the different delegations and embassy staff as part of the preparatory visits.
“I would like to thank all the nursing and medical staff who worked so hard to ensure that the Emergency Unit and the City Centre Triage and Treatment Unit were fully prepared and equipped for this Summit and I would like to thank Assessment Unit staff for their help in looking after the White House security delegation including the FBI whilst they were based in the Assessment Unit.
“All the staff were very proud that the White House felt able to endorse the EU and the care we offer and that the department could cope with such a massive event.
“We have shown that we are prepared for the major events and all this work has helped to reinforce that.
“I am very proud to be part of such a dedicated team and one that has won such prestigious, international recognition.”
Well I can’t do anything but agree – as once again we have done Wales proud and have shown as we always do that when the chips are down we deliver for those who need us, whether they are VVIPs or people like you and me. Congratulations, thank you and well done to everyone involved.
PICTURE CREDIT: UHB Media Resources, Ann Beswick