03:49PM, Tuesday 02 November 2021
Volunteers from South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) have scooped a prestigious national award for their contribution to healthcare amid the challenges of COVID-19.
The 1,200-strong team of community first responders (CFRs) and co-responders pipped four other organisations for the title at the Helpforce Champions Awards 2021 on Friday.
Volunteer responders are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by attending medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive. They attend more than 30,000 incidents each year.
CFRs volunteer a minimum of 20 hours a month each, and cover a population of more than four million across Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.
While on shift they perform a variety of roles, from responding to emergencies and supporting patient care to manning ‘teapot’ refreshment vehicles to provide staff with hot drinks while waiting with patients at emergency departments.
Throughout the pandemic, volunteers who had to temporarily step down due to age or their own health vulnerabilities continued to support SCAS by taking roles such as helping with the vaccination rollout.
Vanessa Casey, chief executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, said: “We are absolutely delighted our SCAS Community First Responder team has won this award.
“The award recognises the enormous contribution each and every one of our CFRs and Co-Responders has made, not just over the last year but in every year.
“We know the last year has provided many new and different challenges but it has also shown the true loyalty, resilience and passion of our volunteers – on behalf of everyone at SCAS we thank them all for their continued support and hard work.”
Sir Thomas Hughes-Hallett, chairman and founder of Helpforce, said: “What a team. Driving black cabs down from London to protect patient transport patients in transit, they trained to dispatch community first responders from their call centre, crewed teapot refreshment vehicles and distributed donated goods from hand cream to coffee.
“They helped their ambulance service reach even more patients, treating and leaving patients at home and supporting the welfare of elderly and vulnerable patients throughout the pandemic.
“How lucky we are to have them I applaud on your behalf the South Central Ambulance Charity and South Central Ambulance Service Community First Responders.”