South Central Ambulance Service volunteer responders shortlisted for national award
South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Central Ambulance Charity’s volunteer responders have been shortlisted for a prestigious national award for their contribution to healthcare amid the challenges of COVID-19.
The 1,200-strong team of Community First Responders (CFRs) and Co-Responders are up against four other organisations to be named Outstanding Volunteering Team of the Year at the Helpforce Champions Awards 2021.
Volunteer responders are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by attending 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 of 51.
CFRs volunteer in their spare time – providing a minimum of 20 hours a month each – and cover a population of more than four million across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
Helpforce was set up by former Marie Curie charity chief executive Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett to accelerate the growth and impact of volunteering in the NHS by collaborating with organisations and rapidly sharing insights and best practice.
Its awards ceremony celebrates the invaluable contributions made by volunteers in the NHS and this year will focus on the role they have played – and continue to play – in managing the impact of the pandemic.
“Our CFRs have weathered every storm this year and still come out in strength to provide essential emergency care for patients across our community,” said Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity.
With the support of SCAS’s Community Engagement and Training team and the charity, this incredible group has enabled us to reach even more patients, treat and leave even more patients in their own homes and supported the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients by responding to non-injury falls and concern for welfare calls.
“These ‘ordinary’ people take on an extraordinary role in their community and, without them, the demand on the ambulance service would be even greater.”
During the pandemic CFRs have continued to respond to emergencies and support patient care but have also taken on new roles such as introducing ‘Teapot’ refreshment vehicles to provide staff with hot drinks while waiting with patients at emergency departments.
They have also volunteered in the control room and headquarters to dispatch CFRs, helped distribute donated goods from hand cream to coffee across ambulance service sites and taken on a variety of fundraising challenges to raise money for additional equipment and new technology.
Volunteers who had to temporarily stand down due to age or their own health vulnerabilities did not give up and found new ways to support SCAS, joining specific bubbles and providing essential support outside of direct patient care such as helping with vaccination rollouts.
Ms Casey added: “We are incredibly proud of these volunteers who give so much to support their communities and to help others.
“Together as volunteers, an NHS Charity and an NHS Trust we are one team providing an excellent emergency service to patients across four counties and we would be so much less without our volunteers.”
Mark Lever, Chief Executive of Helpforce, said: “2020 and 2021 have seen the NHS and all our healthcare services face one of the biggest challenges in their history and we have seen volunteers step up in their thousands to help.
“This year we have received a record number of entries for the Helpforce Champions Awards with so many brilliant examples of innovation, great practice, commitment, and real passion for patient care and support for staff across the health and care sector in the UK.
“We want to thank everyone for taking the time to recognise the volunteers and send our congratulations to those who have been shortlisted and we’d like to wish them the best of luck.”
Winners will be announced on 30 October.
SCAS volunteers attend NHS Big Tea event hosted by Duke of Cambridge
Volunteers from South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) attended a special NHS Big Tea event at Buckingham Palace today hosted by the Duke of Cambridge. Major Emma Allen MBE, Anthony Larks and Mark Potts, who are all Community First Responders (CFRs), spent the day meeting and talking to guests who included NHS England Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens.
The event was organised by NHS Charities Together, of which the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are patrons, as a thank you to NHS staff and volunteers for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic and to mark the health service’s 73rd birthday. It took place in the Palace gardens and ran alongside thousands of afternoon teas held nationwide in homes, back gardens, schools, hospitals and community settings to show support for the NHS.
CFRs Emma, Anthony and Mark, along with more than 1,000 other CFRs and Co-Responders at SCAS, 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. CFRs 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.
“I never imagined when I signed up to be a CFR that I’d be having tea at Buckingham Palace,” said Anthony, who is from Bracknell and began volunteering and fundraising at the start of the pandemic – raising £9,000 for the charity in addition to the hours he has given to caring for patients.
“It’s been truly amazing to have met the Duke of Cambridge today and to recognise the amazing work of the NHS – I’m honoured and humbled to have the opportunity to work alongside our NHS heroes and see the work they do daily, it’s incredible.
“We have more than 1,000 CFRs and Co-Responders who attend emergency incidents across Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire and they are such an important part of our service,” said Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity.
“They are usually first on scene with the patient and able to begin taking basic observations and supporting them prior to the arrival of the ambulance. They all do such a fantastic job for our organisation so I am delighted they were recognised in this way with an invite to the NHS Big Tea with the Duke of Cambridge.”
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."