Cardiff & Vale Health Charity is pleased to announce Jen Thomas, Specialist Nurse for Children Looked After, has been crowned Health Hero for January.

Jen joined Cardiff and Vale University Health Board in 1994 as a nurse working in ITU, and left critical care in 2004 to join the Child Health Department working within school health. Soon after she was appointed to Specialist Nurse working to develop a service within a multi-agency team under a Welsh Government initiative to improve health outcomes of Children ‘looked after’. Throughout the pandemic Jen has also been working weekends in the Mass Vaccination Centres helping to deliver the COVID-19 Vaccination programme.

Jen was nominated by School Nurse and Midwife, Martine Lloyd after Jen saved her life. During an evening at the Oystercatcher pub in Cardiff, Martine inhaled a chunk of chicken and was unable to breathe, cough or speak, staggering around the restaurant. Immediately realising what was going on, Jen rushed to administer initial back slaps whilst everyone else in the establishment panicked and shouted to dial 999.

Jen remained calm, providing further back slaps until the food dislodged and the blockage cleared, and Martine, thankfully, was finally able to breathe albeit in pain and terrified after the ordeal.

Afterwards, the young staff of the Oystercatcher pub stated they had been frightened and clueless as to how to respond, admitting that if Jen had not been there, there was a real chance that Martine would’ve lost consciousness and possibly, tragically, her life. Thankfully, calm, practical and efficient Jen came to the rescue.

Martine said, “During the frenzy I was aware that everybody was panicking, and parents were shielding their children away from the scene – it must have looked very scary for them. It has frightened me that if Jen had not been there, nobody in the pub would have known what to do. I am keen to raise the importance of first aid training, specifically for choking to ensure everyone knows what do in an emergency such as this.

“My throat is very sore where the chunk of food was trapped, causing trauma, and my back is bruised from the force of the back slaps. I know Jen saved my life that night, and there aren’t enough words to demonstrate how truly grateful I am.”

Sandra Dredge, Senior Nurse Community Child Health, said, “Jen is an experienced nurse working with the Looked After Children’s Team. As a Specialist nurse with a wide breadth of knowledge and skills, she is a fantastic advocate for the children and young people that she works with. I’m very pleased that her quick thinking and speedy actions saved the life of her friend and colleague and that she has received this wonderful recognition.”

Jen will be Health Hero for the month of January and will receive a treat from sponsors Park Plaza Cardiff. She is delighted with the award nomination.

The Health Hero Award is supported by Cardiff & Vale Health Charity and Park Plaza Cardiff.

If you feel you know someone who has worked tirelessly to help a colleague or patient in healthcare settings throughout Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and deserves recognition then let us know about them.

To nominate your Health Hero: Email: 
Nominations must include: Your name, contact details, the nominee’s name and role, plus some words explaining exactly why you think they deserve to be crowned Health Hero.

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