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"As his condition worsened, I was constantly assessing him and the impact the illness could have on his safety. As PF is a progressive disease it is important to regularly re-evaluate your capabilities. Patients are so busy coping with the illness they don’t think about the impact that decreasing mobility and using oxygen has on safety.”
Ashley, Watch Manager at West Bridgford fire station in Nottinghamshire, now wants to spread the word about safety to PF patients across the UK, in memory of his dad. “My dad was a remarkable bloke. He worked hard and family was everything to him. He was a taxi driver and customers became friends. His PF was actually picked up when he went for his driver medical. He was a realist but he was positive. He’d say, ‘I know I’m going to die but I’m not going to die today.’ ”
Ashley and his sister Kerry even took three months leave to look after their dad, with mum Mary, so that he could stay at home as long as possible. He passed away in March 2019 and is much missed by his family, especially his four grandchildren, Georgia (8), Hugo (4), Arron (10) and Imogen (7).
Ashley has regularly visited support groups in the East Midlands and has either visited or arranged visits to over 30 patients to advise on safety. Any individual or support group in the UK who would like a visit from their local Fire and Rescue Service can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ashley’s Top Tips for keeping safe:
- Oxygen increases fire risk. Keep these items at least 10ft away from oxygen: candles, open fires, electric razors, oil or petroleum-based products
- Keep oxygen cylinders secure and steady – Ashley made a box for his dad to have at the side of his chair or bed
- Some fire services record who uses oxygen in their area. Get yourself on the list
- Display a ‘compressed gas’ warning sign at home, maybe in your window. This will help the fire service if you have a fire. You can buy these at DIY stores
- If you’ve moved your bed downstairs is there a smoke alarm in the room? The fire service will do that free of charge. You are twice as likely to die in a fire without a smoke alarm
- How would you get out of the house if there was a fire? Make a clearway free of furniture and oxygen tubing. Plan an escape route and have a rehearsal in the dark
- Before bedtime, close inside doors, unplug electrical appliances (not the freezer or fridge!); put out candles and cigarettes properly; and keep door and window keys where you can find them
Any individual or support group in the UK who would like a visit from their local Fire and Rescue Service can email him here.