Spike in volunteering interest for region’s ambulance service

Community first Responders equipment, including the Automated Electronic Defibrilator (AED). Photo:

Community first Responders equipment, including the Automated Electronic Defibrilator (AED). Photo: Harry Sutton - Credit: Archant

The region's ambulance service has seen a 360pc spike in community first responder (CFR) registrations of interest following National Volunteers' Week.

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) received on average nine registrations of interest compared with 42 following this year's celebrations.

There are currently close to 999 CFRs that make up almost 300 groups across the region who are trained by the trust to respond to medical emergencies in the area where they live or work.

Their aim is to reach a potential life threatening emergency in the first vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives.

The trust also has 140 car drivers who take patients to and from routine appointments, providing a vital service to local community members who are unable to transport themselves.

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Their trust user group (TUG) is an independent group of volunteers from around the region who help identify ways of improving services and support the Trust with a range of activities.

Chaplains also play an integral part within the ambulance service offering pastoral, emotional and spiritual support to all levels of staff and volunteers regardless of their faith, belief or none.

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During Volunteer's Week, the trust ran a CFR takeover week. The trust also ran cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) workshops in Norfolk high streets.

One patient told the trust: 'The driver is so kind and helpful. A very good man. He makes me happy when I am worried. I wish all people were like him.'

There is also a great sense of camaraderie and personal fulfilment felt by the trust's volunteers,

Julie Lockhart, TUG member said: 'It has been a pleasure to work with the trust, although it can occasionally be challenging.

'I enjoy the work I do and find a lot of satisfaction in being involved.'

Simon Nourse, Halstead CFR said: 'As a CFR I'm able to give something to our community…it's a privilege to help those in need of help.'

Rachel Hillier, Diss CFR coordinator said: 'I love the job and hope that I can continue to make a difference.'

For more information on the types of volunteering opportunities available in the Trust, visit bit.ly/2gc4fb1

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