A village has been outraged after a “life-saving” first responder was dismissed.
Effie Cadwallader was dismissed without warning for shredding two pieces of paper – an action which West Midlands Ambulance Service allegedly said placed it “at risk”.
But now residents in St Martins, where Mrs Cadwallader has devoted more than 10 years as a volunteer, are fighting to see her reinstated.
Peter Faulks, of Stans Superstore, where the petition is based – and where Mrs Cadwallader has attended to ill customers, staff and Peter himself – said: “We have always appreciated the work Mrs Cadwallader has done and supported her with various fundraising efforts.
“We really value her and she is a big part of our community. What she does as an unpaid volunteer is marvellous.
“She is professional and we have no doubt of her integrity, so to hear she has been dismissed like this with no right of appeal is terrible.”
The Advertizer has also received a number of letters about her work.
Mrs Cadwallader has been one of two CFRs who have served St Martins – as well as the surrounding villages and towns, including Oswestry and Ellesmere – every day of the year between 7am and 11pm.
Over the past 10 years she has attended more than 2,500 call-outs.
She has received the accolade as Shropshire CFR of the Year and in 2012 received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her lengthy service.
The incident which led to her dismissal came after she was called out to an emergency.
She had to fill in forms which gave basic details about the patient.
When paramedics refused to take paperwork after the incident had been dealt with, Mrs Cadwallader decided to shred it, in the interests of confidentiality. The alternative would have been to have taken it to Shrewsbury – a round trip of 50 miles.
It was only after she asked her manager for advice on what to do if this happened again that she received a letter dismissing her – without any opportunity of appealing the decision.
She told the Advertizer that, according to policy, paperwork that isn’t taken by paramedics should be taken to the nearest ambulance hub. That is in Shrewsbury.
Mrs Cadwallader said: “The impact on the village was my first concern, but when I reflected on it I have been dismissed summarily without any chance of appeal – and it is my reputation that is being damaged.
“I haven’t done anything bad – or at least, I don’t consider I have. The ambulance service thinks differently but I am anxious everybody knows I haven’t done anything really bad.”
A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: “It was with great regret we terminated Mrs Cadwallader’s volunteer agreement as she had been a very dedicated member of the team.
“However, she has admitted destroying patient report forms, a matter that has previously been raised with her as unacceptable practice. These legal documents describe the treatment received by a patient and as such could be requested by a coroner or other court. By destroying them, Mrs Cadwallader has breached the Data Protection Act.
“The Trust is examining whether this breach needs to be reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office. In addition, she has broken numerous Trust policies including the Community First Responder Framework, the Confidential Waste Procedure and the Records Management Policy.
“Mrs Cadwallader had previously been reminded of the procedures to be followed. As such the Trust was left with no option but to take the deeply regrettable decision to terminate her agreement.”
Mrs Cadwallader refuted the claim she had been warned not to shred documents in the past.