Celebrating the work of our volunteer life-savers
Date: 06 June 2016
“Shaking the hand of the man whose life I saved,”
“Being treated as a colleague by many crews,”
“Making a difference when people are at their most vulnerable,”
“The happiness knowing you have given someone more time,”
“The look of relief on families’ faces because they didn't know what to do,”
Community first responders have been talking about their highlights of a rewarding role that saves lives.
The region’s ambulance service is this week highlighting and celebrating the work of its legion of volunteer life-savers during national volunteers’ week, which runs until 12th June.
Volunteer life-savers – trained by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) - attended more than 24,000 medical emergencies across the East in 2015/2016. The most common type of call CFRs attended was to patients with chest pain. 4,264 incidents in total.
There are almost 300 CFR groups across the region with around 1,500 volunteers
They are trained to perform basic life support and attend 999 calls such as cardiac arrests, diabetes emergencies and people who are choking, having a seizure or suffering from breathing problems and chest pain. And because they volunteer where they live or work, they can often get to a patient before an ambulance crew or rapid response vehicle.
CFRs have been sharing their stories about why they volunteer and advice to those thinking about signing up.
Kate Williams, from Manningtree Community First Responders, a volunteer for 10 years, said: “Highlights include the incredible other responders I've met and become good friends with, our amazing paramedics who give up so much of their time to train us, the change of outlook on life to appreciating things so much more than before, and being able to be there for people at the hardest times of their lives. There is no doubt you will change as a person but for the better.”
Sharon Smith, of Newgate Street CFRs in Hertfordshire, said: “Being a CFR has given me a real sense of achievement in helping people in my community at a very stressful moment in their lives. Most patients I visit are within three to four miles of where I live so I can get there really fast. An ambulance is always on its way to back me up. It's a wonderful role.”
Danny Ayling, of Holland/Clacton CFRs. “For volunteering as little as five hours a week you are providing an extra resource in your area for those time critical patients. In those five hours you could help make the difference between a life lost and a life saved.”
Claire Taylor, of Ely CFRs, said: “There are more rewards than you think and the skills you will learn are amazing. I like knowing that if something serious happens, I can deal with it until help arrives. I volunteer in the evenings when I'm watching television or doing the house work so it fits in well and I don't notice the hours I put in. It's more of a hobby than volunteering.”
Jim Whiteside, of Waveney Valley CFRs, said: “You get back out 100 fold what you put in. The training and support from EEAST and other responders is superb; it is not difficult and you really do make a difference,”
Adrian Garnham, a volunteer with Stutton and Holbrook Community First Responders in Suffolk, said: “Becoming a volunteer, not just for the EEAST, can give you a great deal of satisfaction, knowing you have done something to help others that might be in need. A volunteer doesn't have to climb mountains, run marathons or jump from aeroplanes trying to raise money for various causes, just doing the little thing can make the biggest difference.”
David Halsey, of Haverhill, Kedington & Hundon Community First Responders, said: “There have been so many highlights, but it has to be when you get stopped in the street or supermarket and thanked for what you have done.”
A CFR recruitment event will be held at Luton Ambulance Station from 6pm to 8pm on 8th June for anyone interested in learning more.
For more information about getting involved, visit: http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk/join-the-team/community-first-responders or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The number of incidents attended by CFRs in 2015/16 by county:
Bedfordshire – 555
Cambridgeshire – 2,953
Essex – 11,140
Hertfordshire – 2,006
Norfolk – 3,629
Suffolk – 4,269
Community first responders have been talking about their highlights of a rewarding role that saves lives