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Ambulance Volunteer Mike Retires After 66 Years

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An award-winning South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer community responder is taking a well-earned retirement after helping people in need for almost seven decades. 

Mike Kemp, from Liskeard in Cornwall, began his volunteering as a cadet with St John Ambulance in 1954. He was a long-serving officer with the organisation before finishing in 2006. 

Mike Kemp (right) with his son, Richard (left)

Mike has been a SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) since 2002, treating thousands of patients in and around Liskeard, Looe and Par — and saving many lives. 

His legacy will continue through his son Richard who is a SWASFT Paramedic, and the new volunteers Mike has trained. 

CFR Mike Kemp with an AED

Mike said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer responder. No two days of responding are the same.’

“But it’s a privilege to be part of such a wonderful team, and know you are making a difference to people. 

“Once I was called onto a train to treat an unconscious diabetic patient who attacked the guard when he regained consciousness.’

Another time, when I was called to a care home, I was told that the elderly resident I was treating was just asleep and the real patient was on the other side of the room!”

One of Mike’s proudest achievements was becoming the first person to defibrillate a patient in 1988. 

Julia Cleeland-Smith, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Cornwall, said: “I have been amazed at the dedication and commitment that Mike has given to support patients, community responders and enhanced first aid to the public.” 

Mike Kemp with Volunteer of the Year award at the Unsung Hero Awards (2018)

His volunteering with SWASFT was recognised in 2018 when he was given the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards. 

CFRs are trained volunteers who provide crucial treatment in the vital first few minutes of life-threatening emergencies while an ambulance is on the way. 

During Volunteers’ Week, SWAST has been celebrating the invaluable work of its 800 volunteers who respond to around 40,000 patients a year across the South West. 

Welsh Ambulance Service Celebrates Volunteers’ Week 2020

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The Welsh Ambulance Service has been celebrating the work of its volunteers as part of national Volunteers’ Week.

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

More than 1,400 volunteers give up their time to support the ambulance service in Wales, including 1,200 Community First Responders and 170 Volunteer Car Drivers.

Community First Responders are trained to deliver life-saving first aid prior to the ambulance service’s arrival.

Volunteer Car Drivers use their own vehicles to transport people to routine hospital appointments, including renal dialysis, oncology and outpatients appointments.

In 2019/20, they made 134,354 journeys across Wales and covered more than four million miles – the equivalent of driving to the moon and back eight times.

Elsewhere, Community First Responders are members of the public who are trained to deliver life-saving first aid to people in their own community prior to the ambulance service’s arrival. 

As a critical part of the chain of survival, Community First Responders play an active part is saving many lives across Wales every year.  

They have the equipment and know-how to administer treatment in those precious first minutes of an emergency, including CPR and defibrillation in the event of a cardiac arrest.

Last year, Community First Responders attended 29,000 emergencies, arriving at the scene of the most serious ‘Red’ calls in an average of six minutes and 49 seconds.

Jason Killens,
Chief Executive,
Welsh Ambulance Service

Jason Killens, Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service, said: “Our volunteers – be they in our car service or our Community First Responder group – give up their time to help us help our communities. 

“The time they give is substantial and makes a real difference to our patients across Wales 

“Without the support of our volunteers and their families and friends who support them to volunteer with us, we simply couldn’t operate the service that we do.

“The commitment from our volunteers through the Covid-19 pandemic has been incredible, and we would like to extend a huge thank you for their time and commitment, not just this Volunteers’ Week but year-round.”

Volunteer Car Drivers transport patients to and from routine hospital appointments using their own vehicle.

Martin Woodford, the Trust’s Chair, added: “As an ambulance service, we depend hugely on the contribution of our volunteers, come rain or shine, and never more so than during this frightening pandemic.’

“On behalf of our Board, I would like to express my enormous gratitude to all of our selfless volunteers, whether Community First Responders, Volunteer Car Drivers, or people who have simply stepped forward to help us in any way they can during these difficult times.”

“We are forever in your debt,” Martin added.

As well as Community First Responders and Volunteer Car Drivers, the Trust also relies on the support of St John Cymru Wales and uniformed first responders from the three Welsh fire and rescue services.

It is also supported by ‘BASICS’ doctors from the British Association of Immediate Care, who provide pre-hospital care at the scene of more complex emergencies.

To volunteer for the Welsh Ambulance Service, visit www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk 
and head to the ‘Get Involved’ page. 

Visit http://volunteersweek.org for more information.