Ambulance car service driver, Yvonne Westgarth

First volunteer recognition awarded to ambulance service

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is the first of its kind to be recognised for its continued support and involvement of volunteers within the Trust.

NEAS has been acknowledged for its services and support by Investing in Volunteers, which is the UK quality standard for all organisations which involve volunteers in their work.

NEAS is the first ambulance service in the country to gain Investing in Volunteers accreditation and will last for three years.

Every year, the North East Ambulance Service’s army of volunteers provide an instrumental support to the Trust and its patients. In total, the Trust has 280 volunteers dedicating their time as community first responders (CFR’s), ambulance car service (ACS) drivers and hospital porters.

NEAS chief executive Yvonne Ormston said: “Our porters, community first responders and ambulance car service drivers provide an invaluable service to our patients and offer significant support to the wider service.  We have a team dedicated to supporting volunteers who focus on the recruitment, retention, training and welfare of all volunteers who work with us.

“Some of our volunteers have been with us for over 25 years and this length of commitment and dedication is invaluable to our Trust. Our volunteers are aged between 18 and 80 and come from a variety of backgrounds, all with different reasons for volunteering at NEAS. This includes people wanting to help in their local community, give something back to the NHS, gain experience in a healthcare environment or meet new people.

“To honour the fantastic work that our volunteers do, we host an annual award ceremony every year to celebrate their achievements and commitment.  This is well deserved recognition for our dedicated team, who support people volunteering their time with us day in day out.”

Community first responders are an integral part of patient care within the Trust. They 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 CFRs who, last year, volunteered nearly 26,000 hours and attended to 1,269 patients across the region.

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.

Volunteer porters play an important role 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. Last 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.

Investing in Volunteers assessor Dane Gould created an independent report that found that, “The commitment to volunteering and recognition that volunteers are essential and integral to NEAS, is strongly communicated throughout the organisation. Volunteers spoke about their contribution to NEAS and they were aware of the enthusiasm and passion they bring, and the organisation’s openness to hearing their views and opinions and developing their skills.

“Volunteers interviewed feel very valued, appreciate being thanked, being invited to social events and particularly enjoy the organisation’s welcoming and positive atmosphere. The organisation is aware of the need to give volunteers recognition.

“NEAS shows a strong commitment to involving volunteers from all backgrounds and its volunteer team is reflective of the communities in which it works. The organisation is proactive in developing and adapting volunteer roles to suit the needs, abilities and interests of individual volunteers.”

Investing in volunteers can be as rewarding for the people volunteering as it is for the patients.  One of our service’s ambulance car service volunteers, Yvonne Westgarth from Thornley has been a volunteer for over seven years after being made redundant in her previous job.  Passionate about volunteering for the NHS, she explained, “As soon as I took on this role I wondered why I hadn’t done it years ago.  I get to meet wonderful people every day and I love the flexibility of choosing my own hours.  I take a lot of pride in my job and give 100 percent commitment to what I do.”

If you are interested in volunteering for the North East Ambulance Service, and can provide a minimum of four hours per week, follow this link to find out more: /get-involved/volunteering-opportunities/volunteer-porters.aspx

Find out more about Investing in Volunteers at: https://iiv.investinginvolunteers.org.uk/

To find out more about volunteering opportunities at North East Ambulance Service, visit http://bit.ly/neasvolunteers

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