Volunteer award winners 2019

Volunteers awarded for their voluntary service

Sixty nine North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) volunteers have been awarded for their voluntary service at an annual awards ceremony.

Volunteer community first responders (CFR), ambulance car service drivers (ACS) and hospital porters play a vital role in helping the Trust deliver high quality patient care.

In the last year, 280 volunteers dedicated their time and committed 186,000 hours to the ambulance service.

The NEAS volunteer development team supports the volunteers and their work has enabled the Trust to become the first ambulance service to gain Investing in Volunteers accreditation.

Group volunteer imageThis year’s awards ceremony, at Emirates Riverside Stadium in Chester le Street, on Wednesday 5 June, commended the dedication and commitment of individual volunteers that have been an instrumental support to the ambulance service, one of whom has volunteered for 25 years.

NEAS acting chief operating officer Victoria Court said, “The service values the support of all its volunteers and in the last year, some volunteers have been issued with new equipment and uniform. ACS drivers have had breakaway training and enhanced annual training in everything from equality and diversity, to data security and health and safety.

“CFRs have had training for non-injury fallers and how to help keep patients safe, as well as assisting clinicians in the emergency control room into decision making. CFR volunteers have also registered on Good Sam, which is a mobile app which can alert them to a nearby patient suffering a cardiac arrest.

“The Department of Health has asked NEAS to be the first in the country to trail the National Mobilisation App (NMA) with our CFRs, which enables critical communications between responding resources and control rooms.”

Some of the Trust’s volunteers are trained in offering lifesaving support and they are the community first responders (CFRs). CFRs are volunteers that are trained to deal with emergencies prior to the arrival of an ambulance, and can provide early life saving treatment in the first few crucial minutes of an emergency.

The service values the support of approximately 75 CFR’s who, last year, volunteered nearly 26,000 hours and attended to 1,269 patients across the region.

Volunteer community first responder (CFR) Ian Garrett from Durham, has volunteered for the Trust for 18 years, supporting frontline staff in life saving emergencies. Ian has volunteered over 12,000 hours and attended to 1000 patients during his time as a NEAS volunteer.

An incident that stands out for Ian is when a patient suffered a cardiac arrest at Durham University and being first on scene, he provided crucial lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save the patient’s life before the ambulance crew and air ambulance arrived.

Ian GarrettIan said, “On arrival there was a member of the public giving CPR to the patient and they had even got a hold of an automatic external defibrillator (AED). I then started resuscitating the patient until the rest of the crew arrived.

“CFR’s are valuable and it just takes a job like this to keep us motivated to realise that the training we do is worthwhile. I am grateful to be a CFR and to be able to help patients in their time of need.

“I believe early CPR is one of the most important roles we carry out; to have the ability to help train and make members of the public aware of the importance of CPR and AED use. This will over time help our local community and will give people a better chance of survival. I am very proud to be part of a great NEAS CFR team and family.”

Ian contacted the University after the incident and they have decided to list all 20 AED’s they have around the campus so they can be accessed by the public.

Volunteer ACS drivers use their own vehicles to help transport patients to and from hospital, which keeps ambulances free for emergencies and for patients too poorly to travel by car. 

Last year, ACS drivers volunteered approximately 155,000 hours of their time, completing more than 130,866 patient journeys and clocking up 3,830,585 miles. So far there are 25 ACS drivers volunteering their time for the ambulance service and a further 16 will shortly be arriving at the Trust.

Special recognition was awarded to ACS driver John Arkwright who received a long service award for his 25 years of outstanding voluntary contribution to the ambulance service. John, 72 years old from Peterlee, began volunteering for NEAS in 1994 after wanting to give something back to his local community.

John ArkwrightJohn said, “I get to meet different people every day, helping transport patients to and from hospital who are sometimes very poorly. I’ve been volunteering for 25 years and even though it can be difficult when patients don’t have a good outcome, I really enjoy meeting patients and learn about them and their families. I regularly transport some patients and I look forward to seeing them on their next journey.”

Another vital voluntary role to the Trust is volunteer porters, who play an important part in escorting patients around hospital to their appointments. Porters are the first point of contact for non-life threatening patients and save the ambulance service nearly 600 hours per year, so that crew can be back out on the road saving lives.

Volunteer table decorLast year, the Trust’s porters volunteered over 5,500 shifts which equated to more than 30,000 hours and supported over 5,000 patients at five of the region’s hospitals. They also supported a further 2,500 members of the public to make sure they got to the right department for their appointment. So far there are six hospital porters volunteering at the Trust and eight more will be committing their time in the coming months. *see notes to editors.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering for the North East Ambulance Service, please follow this link: http://bit.ly/2wfysxe. You can also read more about the Trust gaining Investing in Volunteers recognition: http://bit.ly/2HxayUa and also find out more about the Good Sam app that is recognised worldwide: https://www.goodsamapp.org/home.

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