Welsh Ambulance Service celebrates Volunteers Week 2023

WELSH AMBULANCE Service commemorates its volunteers as part of national volunteers week.

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Volunteers’ Week (01-07 June) is an annual celebration of the contribution that millions of people make across the UK through volunteering.

Almost 700 volunteers give up their time to support the ambulance service in Wales, including 572 Community First Responders and Fire Service Co Responders, and 101 Volunteer Car Service Drivers.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Executive Director of Operations, said: “Without our volunteers the Welsh Ambulance Service would not be the same, they are vital to our service and their dedication benefits thousands of patients each year.

 

“Volunteers’ Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight the work they do, the amount of time and energy they give to support us, and to publicly thank them for their ongoing commitment to their local communities.”

Community First Responders are volunteers who attend 999 calls in their community and administer first aid in the precious first minutes before an ambulance arrives.

They are trained by the Welsh Ambulance Service to administer first aid, including oxygen therapy and cardiopulmonary resuscitation, as well as the use of a defibrillator.

In 2022/23, Community First Responders attended more than 14,500 emergencies in Wales.

 

Among them is 74-year-old Gerry Adams, who has been volunteering with the Welsh Ambulance Service for 18 years.

 

 

He said: “This is my 64th year of volunteering as I was 10 years old when I joined St John Ambulance as a cadet.

 

“I remained with them for 25 years and I was involved in setting up a Surf Life Saving Division, which started to patrol Whitmore Bay in 1966.

 

“In 1971 I was awarded the St John bronze medal for Valour for a free swim rescue.

 

“I later joined Barry Dock Lifeboat where I served for 18 years and another 18 years as the Press Officer.

 

“Just before I retired from the RNLI, I joined the Welsh Ambulance Service as a Community First Responder, which I aim to carry on for as long as I have the mental and physical ability to do so.

 

“I am currently the Vale CFR representative after amalgamating Penarth, Barry, Rhoose, Cowbridge and Llantwit CFR teams.

 

“I have been blessed to have served my community for all these years and being a CFR is so gratifying and continues to fulfil my voluntary dreams.”

Gareth Parry, the Trust’s Operations Assistant (Community Support), said: “Across Wales our Community First Responders are playing a huge role in both initiating the chain of survival when attending cardiac arrests, but also building excellent community resilience in times of high demand.

 

“In the last year, the CFR role has developed greatly within the Thrust, and we are now able to provide our patients with pain relief in the form of both Paracetamol and Penthrox.”

Meanwhile, Volunteer Car Service Drivers use their own vehicles to transport people to routine hospital appointments, including dialysis, oncology and outpatient appointments.

In 2022/23, they made over 68,000 journeys across Wales.

Among them is 82-year-old Mike Maltby, who said: “Before retirement, volunteering was near impossible with working away from home and reserving days off for family and home maintenance.

 

“Retirement provided time and the opportunity to give something back to society.

 

“As I live in a rural area driving on country roads can be challenging, the weather always needs to be considered (no different to my career in aviation).

 

“Careful time planning is essential and locating patients in remote areas can be a problem.

 

“But at the end of the sometimes-tiring day, there is enormous job satisfaction.

 

“I have found ambulance staff in hospitals, contact centres and planning always helpful, understanding, never pressing and very professional…a joy to work with.

 

“I have a medical problem at present preventing me from driving, hopefully temporary, as I am “bored out of my brains” and itching to do something useful again.”

 

Community First Responders and Volunteer Car Service Drivers have flexible hours and are provided with uniform and training by the Trust.

Pennie Walker, Volunteer Manager for the Trust’s Volunteer Car Service, said: “It has been a very busy year for our Volunteer Car Service drivers.

 

“We currently have 101 active drivers who have covered over 2.5 million miles between them in the past year.

 

“We have implemented new training and opened more avenues of well-being support.

 

“Volunteering is invaluable, and I would like to take the opportunity to personally thank our VCS drivers for all you do for the Trust and the non-emergency patient transport in particular.”

 

2023 marks the 39th year of Volunteers’ Week, with this year’s theme: ‘Celebrate and Inspire’.

 

Judith Bryce, Assistant Director of Operations (National Operations and Support), said: “Team WAST is enormously grateful for the contribution made by our volunteers’ day in day out.

 

“In the last year we have trained more than 150 Community First Responders across Wales and supported many more in their return to responder training.

 

“We’ve have successfully issued pain relief including Penthrox to our CFR’s which is a UK ambulance first for volunteers, increased our volunteer mileage rate permanently and we have more exciting developments planned for the next year including our volunteer conferences.”

 

As well as Community First Responders and Volunteer Car Service Drivers, the Trust also relies on the support of St John Ambulance Cymru as well as ‘BASICS’ doctors from the British Association of Immediate Care, who provide pre-hospital care at the scene of more complex emergencies.

Click here if you would like to become a Community First Responder and here if you are interested in becoming a Volunteer Car Service Driver.

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