Volunteering: Community First Responder

Supporting the communities where our staff live and work is really important at Ascent. That’s why all of our teams are offered a Volunteering Day each year where they can do something to make a difference in their local communities. Dave Carey, our Heath, Safety & Environment Manager, shares his story of his personal Volunteering Day – which included helping two people with breathing difficulties!

“I have had a voluntary role as a Community First Responder with the South West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SWAST) for over 12 months now and decided to use my Volunteering Day for this purpose.

Responders have a kit which consists of such things as mobile/PDA (with App for dispatch to and management of incidents), defibrillator, oxygen (cylinder), airway management equipment, observation kit (for blood pressure, blood sugars, temperature etc.), wound management kit etc. and normally respond to incidents close to their homes in their spare time. I usually do this in the evenings, and sometimes on days off.

We work alongside and are dispatched to the same incidents as our regular ambulance crews, from Category 1, life-threatening injuries and illnesses such as cardiac arrest to Category 4, which are less urgent calls. This can result in us being first on the scene with a patient before an ambulance arrives. The theory is that we may be able to get to a patient quicker as we are already in the locality. We may also support an ambulance crew that is already on scene.

Each county within the SWAST region now has a Community Responder car, which can be booked out for anything from a morning to a whole day. These are a mobile asset that can be deployed wherever necessary within the county. My Volunteering Day was a fairly quiet shift, though I did help two patients with breathing difficulties. A typical day over the last 12 months has included attending:

  • cardiac arrests
  • strokes
  • seizures
  • hip injuries resulting from falls
  • suspected anaphylaxis
  • a head injury which bled profusely (patient on blood thinners)
  • 8 week old baby with breathing difficulties
  • numerous other incidents of a less severity

Thank you, Ascent, for allowing me this day to continue to make a difference in my local community.”