Three South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteers have been shortlisted for a national award.
Community First Responders (CFRs): Anna Smith, Mike Kemp and Craig Holmes have all been put forward for the Volunteer of the Year award at the Unsung Hero Awards 2018.
CFRs are trained volunteers who support their local community by attending emergency calls on behalf of SWASFT while an ambulance is on its way.
They respond to particular types of medical emergencies where it is essential for the patient to receive immediate lifesaving care. These include conditions such as cardiac arrest, chest pain, breathing difficulties, unconscious patients, fitting and stroke.
There are almost 1,000 CFRs who volunteer for SWASFT, covering hundreds of locations across the South West.
Anna has been a CFR for two years and is now team leader for the Chard group in Somerset.
She said: “I love being there for my local community. People go through very challenging experiences and you can’t underestimate the importance of having somebody available to respond. I’ve dealt with plenty of difficult incidents, but it’s fantastic to be able to help people in their time of need.”
Rich Buckley, Acting Responder Manager for SWASFT, said: “Anna is an incredible lady who is very humble about her role; she is an asset to her community and to SWASFT, and is someone I am proud to work with. Her compassion is unrivalled and her skill level exemplary.”
Mike was a member of St John’s Ambulance from age 11 for more than 50 years. He has been a SWASFT CFR for over 15 years in South East Cornwall. He has provided over 32,500 hours of cover and has attended over 200 cardiac arrests.
Mike said: “It’s such a privilege to volunteer in this way and know you’re helping people.”
Rich said: “Mike has been instrumental in saving the lives of numerous patients in and around his community, and he makes a real difference to everyone he treats.
“He is unable to walk down the high street of the area he lives without being stopped and thanked by a patient, friend or relative of somebody he has treated.”
Craig has given over 40,000 hours of service and has attended more than 1,250 incidents over seven years in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
He said: “I was absolutely over-the-moon to be nominated, and I thought anything else would be a bonus. I volunteer with a superb bunch of people who all deserve to be recognised.
“It’s impossible for ambulance crews to be everywhere, especially in rural areas. So CFRs play a vital role, and ultimately save lives.”
Allison Tovey, Emergency Care Assistant for SWASFT, said: “Craig demonstrates unending enthusiasm and commitment to his role. He gives so much of himself, his time and his energy.”
Not only do the trio save lives by responding to emergencies, they also pass on their knowledge new CFRs.
The Unsung Hero Awards were created to celebrate the hard work of NHS non-medical staff members. The awards will be presented at a dinner ceremony at The Principal Hotel in Manchester City Centre on Friday 23 February.
SWASFT Emergency Medical Advisor (EMA), Harriet La Trobe, has been shortlisted for the ‘Life Saver’ accolade.