North East Ambulance Service thanks volunteers

More than 27,500 hours completed by volunteers over the last year

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is joining in The Big Celebration for Volunteers Week (1-12 June) this year, to say an enormous thank you to over 300 volunteers that support the service.

On behalf of the hundreds of thousands of patients who use the service every year and staff across the organisation, NEAS is recognising the work by volunteers across the region at an event on 8 June at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead.

Whether as a volunteer porter, ambulance car service driver, community first responder or Governor, volunteers invest thousands of hours in the service every year – unpaid and in their own time. 

Last year the service answered 1.107 million emergency 999 and NHS 111 calls, responded to 302,687 incidents that resulted in a patient being taken to hospital, treated and discharged 18,144 patients with telephone advice and treated and discharged 81,990 patients at home. In the same year, emergency care crews reached 134,745 incidents within the national target of 8 minutes.

Chief executive of NEAS, Yvonne Ormston said: “Our service spans the entire North East, taking health and emergency care into local communities every minute of every day.  In every part of this region we have people who volunteer to support us and they make a real difference to patients and their experience of the NHS. 

“For us, a volunteer’s work can be as significant as saving someone’s life - our Community First Responders take their life-saving skills into the communities where, in the event of a cardiac arrest, every second counts.  But just as importantly, they can make a patient’s experience of our service a much more pleasant one.  Our porters and car drivers are local people, working in their own communities, with a genuinely caring and compassionate approach to their patients.” 

Nearly 50 people volunteer as porters with the service, meeting patient transport crews at hospitals to and from vehicles to their hospital appointments.  Last year they helped nearly 4000 patients at four of the region’s hospitals, saving crews nearly 250 hours so that they could be back on the road headed to their next patient and completing over 5,500 shifts – more than 27,500 hours. 

Over 170 people work as volunteer Ambulance Car Service Drivers (ACS) for NEAS.  At least 18 of them have volunteered for over 10 years and 1 has volunteered for over 20, totalling over 935 years of combined volunteer service alone.  Ambulance Car Service Drivers (ACS) use their own vehicles to help transport patients to and from hospitals and clinics, which keeps ambulances free for emergencies and for patients too ill to travel by car.   Last year the drivers volunteered over 195,000 hours, completing over 165,000 patient journeys all over the region – that’s an average of nearly 8.5 hours per day each.

The service also values the support of nearly 100 community first responders who have been recruited and trained to respond to emergency calls when dispatched by ambulance control.  They will deal with a specific list of emergencies and provide the patient with support and appropriate treatment until an ambulance arrives.

They exist in towns and villages where it may be a challenge for the emergency ambulance to arrive within the crucial first few minutes.  Their aim is to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts; a patient who suffers a cardiac arrest stands a much better chance of survival if a fully trained person with a defibrillator can attend the patient in the first minutes of collapse.

Last year community first responders volunteered for nearly 1000 hours, attending to 1,269 patients across the region.

If you’d like to learn more skills, get more involved with your local community and improve your career options, volunteering at NEAS might be for you. 

Yvonne added: “On behalf of all of our patients, their families and all of our staff, I want to say an enormous thank you for all that you do.  I hope you all feel an incredible sense of achievement for what you do - North East Ambulance Service would not be the same without you.”


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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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