Community first responders (CFRs) have given almost 10,000 hours of support to North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CFRs are volunteers, trained and dispatched to deal with emergencies prior to the arrival of an ambulance, able to provide early interventions in those crucial first minutes of an emergency.
During the pandemic, CFRs have taken up additional roles fulfilling important tasks such as providing critical care transfer 24/7 support, delivering operational fit testing of frontline colleagues, meal deliveries to the wider NHS network, driving and supporting paramedics who are undertaking COVID-19 home swab testing, welfare support for colleagues, vehicle cleaning and protective personal equipment (PPE) packing and distribution, all in addition to responding to patients in their local area as usual.
Between 28 March 2020 and 21 May 2020, CFRs offered their support on 1,500 separate occasions taking on a range of roles to help the organisation, volunteering 9,685 hours of their own time -- equivalent to more than 400 days.
More than 20,000 packs of PPE were packed at Bury ambulance station for the Greater Manchester area alone and CFR colleagues supported in the conversion of patient transport service (PTS) vehicles, enabling PTS fleet to be remodelled for emergency use by driving vehicles from across the North West to the vehicle workshop in South Cheshire.
Chief Executive Daren Mochrie said: "We are extremely thankful to our community first responders, the support they provide is second to none and they are an integral part of Team NWAS.
"The fact that all the work that they do for us is entirely in their own time is admirable and the courage and commitment that they have shown in recent weeks has been remarkable.
"Providing the right care to the people of the North West is always our number one priority and the additional support from our volunteers has helped us to continue to deliver that during this challenging time. Thank you."
Over the past 20 years CFRs have saved countless lives, conducted training sessions with the public in life-saving skills and helped lobby for changes in education which will soon see children learning basic life support in schools.
David McNally, Interim Blue Light Collaboration and Community Engagement Manager, said: "During these unprecedented times we are all facing, our volunteers have provided us with an amazing amount of support.
"We have had more than 300 NWAS CFRs registering to help which has enabled us to support operational demands in so many new ways; ranging from the movement of vehicles to allow modifications to our frontline fleet, PPE packaging allowing crews to be able to safely deliver care to our patients, manning welfare vehicles to support crews with refreshments, logistical transport to distribute our supplies to ambulance stations to name only a few. This support has been amazing and one which we will continue to utilise in a safe way while we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I cannot thank our volunteers enough for all their time, commitment to the trust and their professionalism. Thank you so much."
More information about volunteering for NWAS can be found on their website, nwas.nhs.uk/volunteer