New ambulance design following guide dog row

Volunteers from Guide Dogs for the Blind look around the new ambulance design.Picture: SUBMITTED

Volunteers from Guide Dogs for the Blind look around the new ambulance design.Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: Archant

A blind person whose guide dog was abandoned by paramedics because they could not accommodate the animal in their vehicle has said she is delighted with changes made to ambulances as a result of a review into her incident.

Krystyna Jenkinson, of Rosebery Avenue, Gaywood, said it was 'absolutely awful' that her three-year-old black labrador cross Dolly was left to wander the streets after the 63-year-old collapsed in King's Lynn town centre on May 20 this year,

Luckily a kind passer-by took care of the dog while Mrs Jenkinson went into a diabetic coma at the town's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

But the incident prompted Helen Sismore, community engagement manager for Guide Dogs for the Blind, to call on the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) to make its vehicles more user-friendly for blind and partially-sighted people.

Mrs Jenkinson, who is registered blind, was invited to meet EEAS managers to discuss possible changes, with new handles, better lighting and larger steps installed as a result of her suggestions.

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'Something good has come out of something bad,' Mrs Jenkinson said. 'I got very upset over it and wanted to make sure it didn't happen again This is going to save a lot of people going through what I went through.'

Mrs Jenkinson said she was delighted EEAS took her feedback fully on-board. 'They've changed their ways,' she added.

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'I was unconscious for three or four hours. If I had been compos mentis, there is no way I would've gone in that ambulance without my dog. She is my world.'

Cynthia Easeman, who was also involved in the redesign, added: 'To have your dog taken from you is like saying to someone else: 'I will just take your eyes away.''

Paul Henry, associate director of operations support at EEAS, said the service was able to 'make meaningful changes to our ambulances based upon patient feedback'.

He added: 'From the advice received, we have changed colours and contrast within the ambulance and most importantly, introduced a means by which assistance dogs can stay with their owner.'

What do you think about the new ambulances? Write, giving your full contact details, to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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