The National Ambulance Resilience Unit’s hugely respected Head of Capabilities Gerry Byrne has retired from the ambulance service after 38 years. Gerry joined the former Merseyside Metropolitan Ambulance Service in 1983 and having qualified as a paramedic, worked for many years delivering pre-hospital care in a busy inner-city environment.
He was promoted to Station Officer in 1991 and following the merger of Cheshire Ambulance Service with Merseyside Metropolitan Ambulance Service he was promoted further to Operations Manager in 1996.
He then spent a year seconded into the Mersey Regional Ambulance Service (MRAS) Emergency Planning Unit, developing an interest and expertise in both event and operational planning, coordinating the ambulance response to operation FRESCO (contingency arrangement for Merseyside Fire Brigade industrial action), RAMP (Reception Arrangement for Military Patients), and both Royal and Ministerial visits.
In the aftermath of the World Trade Centre attacks in September 2001, he was appointed as the CBRN contingency planning officer, instrumental in the introduction of the Mersey Regional Ambulance Service Special Operations Response Team and the development of a counter CBRN strategy within the service.
He was one of the first officers within MRAS to undertake the Silver Command CBRN course at the Police National CBRN Centre, Winterbourne Gunner, where he was invited to contribute to the development of the national syllabus for both ambulance decontamination training and ambulance bronze command training.
Gerry was actively involved in the development of the NHS ambulance service’s second generation decontamination equipment. Following reconfiguration of NHS English Ambulance Services in 2006 and in line with the principles agreed by the Chief Executives of the eleven English Ambulance Trusts, he formed part of the Department of Health’s National Emergency Preparedness (EP) and Civil Contingencies Audit Team, providing specialist knowledge in major incident and CBRN preparedness to the audit review team.
With his expertise in CBRN he was seconded to the Scottish Ambulance Service supporting their CBRN tactical response during the G8 Summit Conference in 2005 and Papal Visit to Scotland in 2010 commanding one of the specialist CBRN response units.
In 2007 Gerry was appointed Area Head of Emergency Preparedness for the Greater Manchester Area of North West Ambulance Service, and in 2009 he was invited to the national stage to play a key role in the Department of Health’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) implementation programme, on secondment to the DH Emergency Preparedness Division.
In 2009 Gerry was also invited to speak at both the Disaster Medicine & Crisis Management Master Class at Cyberjaya University, Putrajaya Malaysia and the Hesculaep International CBRN Conference (Rotterdam) on the NHS ambulance service response to CBRN events.
He migrated to the National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU) as Head of Capabilities in 2012 and was part of the team specialising in the procurement of PPE and equipment for HART teams across England. In December 2013 Gerry took over as Head of the Police National CBRN Centre at Ryton, Coventry.
During his time there he oversaw the delivery of a highly successful large-scale UK Emergency Services International Capability Exercise (CAPEX) in 2013 (in the USA) and 2015 (in Canada), a role he greatly enjoyed.
Gerry returned to the National Ambulance Resilience Unit in 2015 where he once again headed the Capabilities Team, leading in the procurement of the 2nd generation HART fleet, HART Incident Ground Technology, ballistic body armour and several important research projects. He also Chaired the ambulance service’s national operations group until 2019.
Gerry’s 38-year career in the ambulance service and within the wider emergency services sector has been broad and varied, and his conduct exemplary. Countless patients and staff have benefitted from Gerry’s commitment to their safety and his firm belief in providing the best kit and equipment available for those tasked with working in the most challenging environments.
Gerry’s many friends and colleagues from AACE and indeed across the whole ambulance service send him a huge vote of thanks for his service, and wish him the very best for his retirement.