A paramedic who has dedicated his career to saving lives – including during the Westminster Bridge terror attack in 2017 – has been presented with a Queen’s Ambulance Medal, in a prestigious ceremony hosted by His Majesty King Charles III.
Richard Webb Stevens, a motorcycle paramedic from London Ambulance Service who was born with severe hearing loss, was nominated for the illustrious award during the Queen’s platinum Jubilee last June.
He picked up his medal at Windsor Castle last week, in a poignant ceremony which honoured his actions as the first ambulance responder on-scene at the Westminster terrorist attack, as well as his lasting contribution to the deaf community.
As he left the castle with his wife Marie, Richard said: “Meeting the King personally to receive such an important award is something that I never envisaged. You hear stories about it, you read about it but experiencing it was just phenomenal. I was very fortunate to be nominated for this award and it’s been absolutely superb to be honoured in such an emotional ceremony.”
On the day of the Westminster terrorist attack, on 22 March 2017, Richard showed unparalleled bravery and devotion to duty when he was called to a road traffic incident on Westminster Bridge, which he soon realised was not a routine crash.
Many people had been very badly injured, and Richard focused on assessing patients from one end of the bridge to the other and reporting back to the control room asking for backup.
Remembering the day of the attack, Richard said: “22 March 2017 is a day I will never forget, ever. It’s a day when I had to put all my years of service into practice into one single call, but I hope I made a difference in people’s lives.”
At Windsor Castle, Richard was also honoured for making an impact on the deaf community working in emergency services.
While serving in the London Ambulance Service Motorcycle Response Unit, he found the in-helmet earpiece used by motorbike paramedics to keep in contact while driving was incompatible with his hearing aid. Richard met with designers, audiologists and hearing aid companies and his new design has proved to be such a success that these updated communication systems have been taken up by police forces, medical professionals and military personnel around the world.
Richard has been working at LAS for 24 years, and during that time he became the first deaf paramedic to work on London’s Air Ambulance. In his own time, he has been mentoring generations of paramedics with hearing impairments, committed to levelling the playing field in the emergency services for those with similar conditions to his.
He has also striven to make it easier for deaf patients to make 999 calls by supporting the launch of a BSL app allowing people with hearing or speech loss to be instantly connected to a video call with a BSL interpreter should they need life-saving help.
Daniel Elkeles, chief executive at London Ambulance Service, said: “I can think of no better person to be honoured for serving London. Richard has not only saved countless lives and responded to significant incidents in some very challenging circumstances, but also fought to make emergency services more inclusive for all. We are very proud of him and for everything he has achieved over these 24 years with us.”
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