Ambulance boss who was given an honour by the Queen retires
A leading ambulance director who received an MBE from the Queen this year is to retire.
A South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) executive director of operations Joe Garcia will retire at the end of the month, after 35 years of service, with SECAmb’s current deputy director of operations Emma Williams set to fill the role on an interim basis until a formal appointment process is completed.
Mr Garcia first joined the service in 1985, following a short career in the Royal Marines.
Initially serving as an ambulance technician in Eastbourne, Mr Garcia went on to complete his paramedic training and took on a number of different roles including time spent on the front-line, as a control room manager and in clinical education.
In 2004 Mr Garcia moved to work for West Midlands Ambulance Service but joined SECAmb in late 2016 as interim director of operations – a position he was substantively appointed to in August 2017 – and from which he has overseen a significant period of improvement and in the last 12 months has played a pivotal role in the management of the service’s operational response to COVID-19.
SECAmb chief executive officer Philip Astle said, “On behalf of everyone at SECAmb and in the wider ambulance community, I would like to thank Joe for his commitment and dedication over such a long period. His inclusion in this year’s New Year’s Honours list shows the high regard in which he is held.
“I would particularly like to thank him for steering our operations through what has been an extremely challenging 12 months. I wish him all the very best for the future and a very happy retirement.”
Mr Garcia said, “My journey through my career within the ambulance service has taught me so much about people and the full spectrum of what life has to offer. I have been privileged to work alongside some absolutely fantastic people over the years and I will cherish the times spent working in a such a close-knit team.
“My days at SECAmb have been the pinnacle of my career. I feel so privileged to have been able to serve an amazing group of colleagues and help us all navigate our way through many improvements, and most recently during the tumultuous experience of a worldwide pandemic.
“The greatest asset we possess is our people. Every part of every team, be that back office or front line, have a part to play in bringing relief to a medical or traumatic crisis for our patients and I will forever be proud to have been a part of Team SECAmb in providing that service.”