Community First Responders and Our Volunteers

We are exceptionally proud of the dedication and hard work of all our volunteers every year, and this year is no different.

Our volunteer workforce is extremely varied, including our community first responders, volunteer car drivers within our patient transport services, chaplains, our community engagement group, and our British Association for Immediate Care (BASIC) doctors and paramedics, to name a few.

During the past year we have continued to put measures in place to ensure our volunteers were safe while responding to patients and engaging with the public in local communities.

Community first responders are volunteers within our local communities attending emergency calls on behalf of our ambulance services. 

  • 450,000 volunteer hours in our local communities
  • Attended over 27,000 patients

This commitment to their local community went beyond that of a community first responder, with many volunteers also supporting local communities through community awareness sessions, and ongoing social support for the vulnerable within their local communities. 

  • We’ve recruited and trained 298 community first responder volunteers this year, and also trained over 70 military and fire co-responders.

We continued to support our falls community first responders with their training to attend patients who required assistance in getting up from the floor and discharging the patients from the scene with the support of the clinical advice line. This has enabled us to attend patients who have fallen, quicker and made a difference to many patients experience and care over the course of the year. We have undertaken ongoing refresher training during the year to maintain their skills.

For our existing volunteers we maintained training through e-learning, and local online video calls, supported with resources adaptable to the new delivery methods needed through the pandemic. We know how important the social interaction of face-to-face training so when it has been safe to do so we have risk assessed venues for some face-to-face training.  The pandemic continued to challenge the ability to undertake a lot of face-to-face training at local venues due to reduced availability in the local community.

Through the year we introduced several different roles to support both volunteers, the delivery of patient care and the reduction of demand, these roles will be evaluated and reviewed around their benefits to patient care outside of pandemic situations.

We have more than 1200 active volunteers who support us, including community first responders, who are medically trained to attend certain types of emergency calls, our chaplains, and volunteer car drivers, who help patients to reach appointments. 

The chart below shows the number of times our community first responders responded last year and for which category of call.


C1 - An immediate response to life threatening condition, such as cardiac or respiratory arrest

C2 - A serious condition, such as stroke or chest pain, which may require rapid assessment and/or transport

C3 - An urgent problem, such as an uncomplicated diabetic issue, which requires treatment and transport to an acute setting

C4 - A non-urgent problem such as stable clinical cases, which requires transportation to a hospital ward or clinic

C5 - Conditions identified as suitable for clinical triage which can be resolved, or sign posted to self care or another agency


The chart below shows the number of volunteer hours dedicated to responding to calls.



Community and Public Accessed Defibrillators 

5,000 defibrillators across our region are recorded on our systems.

‘The Circuit’ – the national defibrillator network, connects defibrillators to NHS ambulance services across the UK so that in those crucial moments after a cardiac arrest, they can be accessed quickly to help save lives. This year saw us migrate to ‘The Circuit’ supported by the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE).

We have been communicating with all our Automated External Defibrillator (AED)  sites to encourage them to move their information onto The Circuit, providing them with the tools to manage their AED information, receive information on the deployment of their AED, and enabling quick and easy management of AED availability. 

We have over 3250 of these AEDs on the national network and will continue this year to support the remaining sites move across to The Circuit.  The community response team continued to provide support to the growing network of over 5000 defibrillators across our region, working with businesses, sports facilities, community groups, parish councils and others in their communities. These vital pieces of equipment help save the lives of people who go into cardiac arrest and help deliver a better service to our patients.

Over the last year we have seen a steady increase in the amount of community and public access defibrillators on sites, both inside buildings like GP surgeries and those available 24/7 located outside of shops, that have been installed within the local communities across our region.

Each of the defibrillator sites cover an area of about one mile and in the event of a person calling 999 we inform the caller of their nearest defibrillator site so they can then collect the defibrillator increasing the chances of survival.

The volunteers are always very appreciative of the charitable donations we receive as an organisation from patients and members of the public to support care in the community.

The community first responders training department is responsible for training all community first responders from initial induction training through ongoing clinical updates, statutory and mandatory training and pastoral support of training. We saw a sharp increase in the number of new community first responder volunteers being trained and ready to attend patients last year.

PeriodNumber of Volunteers Trained
 2018-19  50
2019-20  147 
2020-21   169
 2021-22  298


A number of factors contributed to this strong increase in numbers like training available in multiple locations around the Trust, available midweek and weekends, elements of the course available online, increase in team productivity and effectiveness and strong support from volunteer community first responder trainers.

Working through COVID-19 allowed us to completely re-design course delivery which included use of Evolve, larger cohorts but split into ‘learner pods’ for infection control, blended learning packages and online invigilated exams.

Last year saw the expansion and strengthening of the volunteer CFR trainer network too with volunteer trainers disseminating monthly training to CFRs. Volunteer trainers received the opportunity to undertake the Award in Education and Training (AET) and the community first responder training team had the opportunity to undertake the Certificate in Assessing Vocational Achievement (CAVA).

Next Page: Section Four - Be excellent collaborators and innovators as system partners

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