South Central Ambulance Charity has been allocated £410k by NHS Charities Together to help support a number of innovative projects across South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).
These include pioneering training programmes for Community First Responders (CFRs) and care home staff, as well as 17 new LUCAS 3 mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) devices.
The funding forms part of a wider £7million investment by NHS Charities Together in ambulance services across the UK announced today.
It means South Central Ambulance Charity can embark on a project that will see SCAS become the first ambulance trust in the UK to train an enhanced group of CFRs to perform diagnostic tests including electrocardiograms (ECGs) and urinalysis to support accurate and early diagnosis.
CFRs are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by responding to medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive.
They also assist with ongoing patient care at the scene and attend more than 30,000 incidents every year. They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the vehicle fleet.
There are currently more than 1,200 CFRs and Co-Responders - these are members of the fire service, police, coastguard and military who volunteer in their spare time - at SCAS covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
They undertake an initial five-day training programme, six-monthly refresher programme and commit to at least 20 hours a month, usually covering a five-mile radius from their home or workplace.
These additional skills will enable enhanced CFRs to provide more detailed information on patients' conditions earlier and help SCAS clinicians decide on the most appropriate care pathway for them, whether in hospital or onward referral within the community.
In addition to this project, the funding will enable SCAS to provide support, training and equipment for care home staff to enable them to better assess when an ambulance response may be required.
LUCAS CPR devices deliver continuous, safe and effective chest compressions which maintain blood circulation at a regular level while freeing up paramedics to focus on other critical aspects of care while a patient is transferred in an ambulance. The purchase of the new LUCAS 3 models will mean the Trust can upgrade from its current LUCAS 2 equipment.
South Central Ambulance Charity will also use the cash injection to provide emergency lifting cushions to CFRs to enable early assistance to patients who have experienced non-injury falls and support the implementation of GoodSAM, an app which automatically triggers alerts to nearby cardiac arrests to whoever is signed on.
This means they can attend and provide immediate life support while an ambulance is en route and the app identifies the location of the nearest defibrillator. The funds will also support widespread training in out of hospital cardiac arrest.
"We are delighted to have secured this grant for the charity which has been awarded thanks to the exceptional support from the public and NHS Charities Together. It will enable us to increase the support we are able to give to our CFRs through lifesaving equipment and further training to develop the programme, as well as supporting our staff with important equipment such as LUCAS devices" said Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity.
Nicola Dunbar, Head of Community Engagement and Training at SCAS said "These funds will go towards some really exciting developments across SCAS including our pioneering projects to train and enhanced group of CFRs to carry out additional diagnostic tests and to support, train and equip care home staff to respond to the health needs of their residents so they can better understand when an ambulance response would be required"
Dr John Black, Medical Director at SCAS said "We are extremely pleased to benefit from this generous national funding as it will enable us to further develop a number of areas of work across SCAS to enhance patient care and ensure our CFRs are among the most advanced in the country. It will also help with the addition of more advanced LUCAS 3 devices which can provide high quality chest compressions to patients in need of prolonged resuscitation while freeing up paramedics to carry out other essential patient care during a transfer to hospital".
Ellie Orton, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together added "At this time of immense challenge for the NHS we are delighted that we can make a real difference and ultimately help save lives by funding amazing CFR volunteers and additional support for South Central Ambulance Service."
Community First Responders- The Volunteer Heroes on Your Street
Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co-Responders are volunteers ( do not get paid) who work alongside the ambulance service to help patients in emergency situations. They are our unsung heroes giving their time to help others.
Community First Responders (CFRs) are highly skilled and trained volunteers supported by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS). They help patients in their time of need whether it be a life-threatening emergency such as a cardiac arrest, heart attack, breathing difficulties, stroke or a less urgent condition such as a non-injury fall or concern for welfare. Our volunteers are deployed by SCAS's Emergency Operations Centre to ensure the quickest possible help to our patients.
We do not receive NHS or other statutory funding to support our CFRs. We fundraise to provide all of their equipment, training, uniform and vehicles that enable them to save lives. CFRs really are the heroes on your street, close at hand should you need them. They are out in their communities all year round and throughout the current pandemic to ensure we can deliver the best possible patient care.
It currently costs £310 a year per responder to maintain the equipment our CFRs use. We have over 1200 CFRs, medical students, military, police and fire Co-responder across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. We are regularly recruiting new CFRs to expand our cover especially in rural areas and it costs us £2,000 to fully kit out a new responder.
However you choose to support our volunteers this year, thank you.
Save a Heart - Surviving Cardiac Arrest
Imagine this…working on a frontline ambulance and being sent to a cardiac arrest in a small village in the middle of nowhere. You arrive on scene and the patient is in full cardiac arrest and requires treatment at a specialist Cardiac Unit.
Now imagine trying to carry out cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the back of an ambulance, travelling at speed, trying to maintain an adequate rate and rhythm as you weave in and out of traffic for as long as 20 minutes.
Hard to imagine isn't it? And yet that is the reality for many of our ambulance service colleagues when faced with a patient in cardiac arrest.
A LUCAS device is a mechanical chest compression device that can deliver safe and effective chest compressions with a consistent depth of 5.3cm and a continual rate of 102 beats per minute. This means that blood circulation is maintained at a regular level which leads to increased brain/tissue perfusion which will mean less neurological damage in the long term.
Having a LUCAS device in place also frees up the paramedic with the patient, reducing the stress in the back of the ambulance, and increasing safety with the crew member able to remain seated and belted while completing observations, maintaining airways and giving drugs to the patient in transit.
Watch a LUCAS device in action: *https://bit.ly/3bdOUCj*
A LUCAS device can remain in place for extended periods of time, for example when a patient has been submerged in water. CPR has to continue until the patient's body temperature has returned to a normal 37 degrees, a process which can take hours and would be an impossible task without a LUCAS device.
Some years ago SCAS was able to source the older LUCAS 2 devices but these are now more than 10 years old and in need of constant repair and we still don't have enough of them. We are now seeking funds to purchase 28 new LUCAS 3 devices to support operational crews across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. LUCAS 3 devices cost £10,000 each so this is a major project for us but one we believe is of the utmost importance if we are to increase the survival rates of our patients with out of hospital cardiac arrest. Can you help?