A CWMBRAN duty control manager who has worked for the Welsh Ambulance Service for almost 40 years has spoken about the massive changes she has seen.

Kerry Burrows joined the patient transport service in 1983. She shared her experiences as part of International Control Room Week - where the Welsh Ambulance Service Trust (WAST) is shining a light on its ‘unsung heroes’ working in its control rooms.

“Back then when you had a 999 call, you’d write the name and address on a paper form and say you’d get there as soon as possible," she said.


“Things have changed so much since then, and technology means we can now triage these calls according to their priority to make sure we reach the sickest patients first, as well as give clinical advice over the phone until the ambulance arrives."

Mrs Burrows met her husband Paul after joining the patient transport service. After she became pregnant, she moved from the road and into control, where she has remained ever since, and served in a number of roles including call handler, dispatcher, allocator and support manager.

“My daughter Danielle has followed in her mum and dad’s footsteps, and is now a call taker supervisor," said Mrs Burrows.

“It’s such a cliché but we’re one big family in the control room.”

Almost 700 members of staff work in the Trust’s five Clinical Contact Centres across Wales. In 2019-20, they answered more than half a million 999 calls and 724,000 non-urgent calls via the 111 and NHS Direct Wales service, while co-ordinating 670,000 non-emergency patient journeys.

And issuing advice over the phone to less ill patients meant that more than 40,000 ambulances did not need to be dispatched unnecessarily.

WAST chief executive Jason Killens said: “When people think about the ambulance service, it’s often those who work on the frontline who get the recognition.

“What they might not appreciate is that we’ve got a huge team of unsung heroes behind the scenes, working just as hard to triage those calls and co-ordinate our response.

“The nature of this work is challenging and rewarding in equal measure, and we’d like to extend a huge thanks to our control room colleagues for their hard work and commitment.”

As part of International Control Room Week, for every mention of #UnsungHeroes on social media during October 19-25, APD Communications, the week's organisers, will donate £1 to the Mind charity.