A year like no other for ambulance volunteers! 

Community First Responders (CFRs) at South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and South Central Ambulance Charity have, like so many others, risen to enormous challenges this year. CFRs have weathered every storm and still come out in strength to provide essential emergency care for patients across our community. Community First Responders volunteer for ambulance services across the UK giving a minimum of 20 hours a month but so many give so much more.

Following initial training from clinicians, they are deployed to emergencies in their area, usually reaching the patient before the first ambulance arrives on scene. They immediately begin assessing the patient, taking basic observations and if necessary begin CPR if a patient is already in cardiac arrest. These vital minutes save lives. These ‘ordinary’ people take on an extraordinary role in their community and without them the demand on the ambulance service would be even greater.

CFR volunteers have continued to respond to emergencies and to support patient care in their communities throughout the pandemic. Not only that they have also taken on new roles such as driving black cabs down from London to protect patient transport patients in transit; trained to dispatch CFRs from call centres; crewed the refreshment vehicles to provide staff with a hot drink while waiting at A&E with patients; helped distribute donated goods from hand cream to coffee across sites and as if that wasn’t enough they have fundraised to raise money for the South Central Ambulance Charity, taking on some tough challenges pushing their personal boundaries.

Those that had to temporarily stand down due to age, their own health vulnerabilities or those of members of their own families did not give up! They found new ways to volunteer at SCAS, joining specific bubbles and providing essential support outside of direct patient care such as helping with the Flu and Covid vaccines. With the support of SCAS Community Engagement and Training Team and South Central Ambulance Charity, this incredible group of volunteers has enabled SCAS 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. With demand so stretched throughout the pandemic being able to attend an elderly person who is not injured but has fallen out of their bed or chair, getting them back up, checking their temperature, blood pressure, making and perhaps joining them for a cup of tea before heading off, has all meant these patients have not needed the valuable resource of an ambulance and more importantly has not resulted in a long lie on the floor for the patient which would likely have led to a hospital admission and further complications.

Patients would often have a far longer wait without the dedication, passion and commitment of our CFR volunteers. South Central Ambulance Charity is 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, they are one team providing an excellent emergency service to patients across four counties, serving a population of over four million people. They would be so much less without their volunteers.