09/03/2018 05:05 SAST | Updated 09/03/2018 05:05 SAST

UK Paramedic Praised For Going Beyond Call Of Duty To Keep Elderly Warm In Winter

Karl Williams and his team bled an elderly couple's radiators so they wouldn't be cold.

A Birmingham, U.K.-based paramedic who bled a 93-year-old woman's radiator while on callout to her husband has been praised on social media for going above and beyond to help others.

Karl Williams and his colleagues, who work for West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS), were called to an elderly couple's home on March 5, when they noticed the couple's central heating had stopped working, forcing them to use an electric heater.

After assessing the patient, an elderly man who was unwell and had been slowly deteriorating, the ambulance crew spent 10 minutes bleeding the radiators in the house before taking him to hospital, where he underwent further assessment.

"The woman was too elderly and frail to come to hospital with her husband," 28-year-old Karl told HuffPost UK. "It was late at night and cold, and she was going to be at home alone. She couldn't thank us enough. It almost made me cry. It was then that I realised just a small thing like that has such a positive impact on a person's emotions, wellbeing and health."

Karl Williams

Karl recalls that on arrival at the couple's home, the woman asked if they wanted her to move a plug-in heater to make more space. It was at this point that she explained she had started using it to keep warm as her heating had not been working for a few weeks – including during the arctic temperatures caused by "the beast from the east" blizzard.

"She told me that she had called the heating company that day, and they tried to guide her through bleeding the radiators, which she had [written] in a little book, but was unable to perform or keep up with the instructions," Karl says. "So I asked if she had a radiator key and went about bleeding all the radiators. The only warm room was the room we were in, and one other room that used a different style of radiator."

As soon as the radiators had been bled, the house warmed up. The team showed the woman how to do it, but also advised her that if she was ever uncomfortable doing, it she should call a plumber.

When Karl spoke of the deed on Twitter, his tweet received more than 15,000 likes, with hundreds of people praising the act of kindness. He says the ambulance service often do tasks that are not healthcare related, such as "making a warm cup of tea or food, or arranging care for pets if we are taking the owner to hospital".

He adds that the team is always looking at ways patients can remain at home if they don't need to be hospitalised, "so we will 'safety net' them in any way possible" by calling doctors or arranging appointments.

"This also prevents people from becoming unwell in the future and having to meet us again," he adds. "That 10 minutes spent bleeding the radiators saved a potential hour in assessing the wife if she become unwell.

"I'm sure that many of my colleagues would have done the exact same."

Karl says he's totally overwhelmed by the responses to his tweet. "I tweet little thoughts I have on my mind, things that matter to me that day," he explains. "I did not expect this snowball effect whatsoever.

"It was the lady's reaction that made me realise we are doing much more than saving lives."

A spokesperson for WMAS tells HuffPost UK it's been an incredibly busy week for the service, with record call numbers being received while having to battle the winter weather.

"During that time there have been endless examples of staff going the extra mile to provide the best patient care possible. Helping to fix the heating of an elderly patient is another demonstration of the caring nature and dedication shown by our staff, who always do everything they can to provide the very best possible service."

If you would like to thank a West Midlands paramedic for their work, please email: pals@wmas.nhs.uk.

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