THE Welsh Ambulance Service has been paying tribute to hundreds of volunteers as part of national Volunteers’ Week.

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

Almost 600 volunteers give up their time to support the ambulance service in Wales, including 460 Community First Responders and 110 Volunteer Car Service Drivers.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Executive Director of Operations, said: “As an ambulance service, we place high value on the contribution of our volunteers, come rain or shine.

“The commitment from volunteers through the Covid-19 pandemic in particular was incredible, and we’re enormously grateful to those who stepped up to help us during those difficult times.

“Volunteers’ Week is a perfect opportunity to highlight the work they do and to publicly thank them for their ongoing commitment.”

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.

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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.

Last year, Community First Responders attended more than 14,000 emergencies in Wales, arriving at the scene of the most serious ‘Red’ calls in an average of seven minutes.

Jonathan Johnston, the Trust’s Operations Manager (Community Support), said: “Every second counts in an emergency, and the role that first responders play in initiating that chain of survival can literally mean the difference between life and death.

“First responders don’t just provide life-saving support at events such as cardiac arrests; they’re also trained to deal with a broader range of medical emergencies, including non-injured fallers.”

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

In 2021/22, they made 56,000 journeys across Wales and covered more than one and a half million miles.

Pennie Walker, Volunteer Manager for the Trust’s Volunteer Car Service, said: “The Volunteer Car Service is an important cog in the wheel of the non-emergency service.

“Volunteers get to know their patients, especially those they transport regularly, and it’s as rewarding an experience for them as it is for patients.”

Last year, the Trust launched its first Volunteers’ Strategy, which sets out how volunteers will be better integrated into the workforce and better supported to deliver the role.

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Jenny Wilson, National Volunteer Manager, said: “Volunteering at the Welsh Ambulance Service has come a long way in the last two decades.

“There are new and exciting plans afoot as we further embrace our volunteers as part of the #TeamWAST family.”

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