EEAST Deaf Awareness Week kicks off in Bedford

Date: 15 May 2018

“The day was fantastic; I learnt how I could phone 999 being deaf and get an ambulance.”

Students at Bedford College attended a special signed first aid and 999 educational class yesterday (14th May) to celebrate the start of Deaf Awareness Week.

Senior Paramedic and NVQ-level signer Esther Shawe and Emergency Care Assistant Tracey Maasz from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust,(EEAST) led the class of more than 30 students with a variety of disabilities during the course of the day. The excitable students also had the opportunity to look around an ambulance under the supervision of Senior Paramedic Paul Hardwick and Project Support Officer Amanda Marsh.

Esther, who is based at Chelmsford, explained: “It's great when we can do things like this because it can help take the fear away for some of these students who might have been in an ambulance under more stressful environments and might again in the future.”

The day was organised in response to the Trust’s Equality Delivery System (EDS2) Public Grading event which was held in April in Bedford.  Some of the deaf students from the college attended and were supported by Esther, who was their signer for the event. Inspired by what they saw, they went back to their college and asked if Suzie Sampson, the deaf coordinator at the college, if she could organise something.

Paul Fitzgerald, Equality and Inclusion Lead at EEAST, could not be more happy to support yesterday’s classes. He said: “Community events like this play a significant role in developing the equality agenda here at EEAST. Engaging with our diverse communities across the region ensures we can highlight our commitment to equality and inclusion. Increased awareness of the needs of communities enables the service to provide appropriate and targeted responses. Our reputation is built on engagement and communication; this has a positive impact on our internal and external relationships.”

You can watch deaf student Taomi, and Senior Paramedic Esther Shawe discuss the day in British Sign Language (BSL) via the link.

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