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Bubble Screen Creates Additional Protection for Ambulance Volunteers & Patients

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North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) has introduced plastic screening for its team of volunteer drivers to help keep them and their patients safe amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

More than 150 people volunteer with NEAS as ambulance car service (ACS) drivers, using their own vehicles to help transport patients to and from hospitals and clinics, which keeps ambulances free for emergencies and for patients too ill to travel by car.

Of those, some are currently shielding until the end of June as part of Government guidance during the Coronavirus epidemic, but a core team of 69 are still volunteering their time to support patients who are still travelling in and out of hospital for life-saving treatment, such as chemotherapy and dialysis.

NEAS Volunteer Bob Pattison shows the bubble screen in use

During the current climate, all drivers are provided with masks, gloves and alcohol gel to keep themselves and their patients safe. However, the Trust has now gone one step further by working with international firm Driver Bubble to introduce plastic screens into volunteers’ cars following a successful trial in May.

Made of durable, flexible PVC plastic, the bubble screen is secured behind the front seats of the vehicle to create a protective shield between the driver and passenger.

A close-up of Bob with the bubble screen

The bubble screen was trialled by 54-year-old ACS driver Bob Pattinson, of Blyth, who began volunteering with NEAS in November 2017 after a career in the military. 

He said: “As well as keeping ourselves safe, we’re trying to do our best to keep patients safe and I think this is a real asset to help us do that. 

“I’ve had some really positive feedback from my patients. One lady told me she had felt quite apprehensive about getting in a car with everything that’s going on but that this really helped put her at ease and made her feel much safer.”

James Fenwick, of Ashington, relies on the ambulance car service three times a week for dialysis treatment at the RVI. He said: “I hadn’t even noticed the screen at first, but it definitely makes you feel safe, it’s a canny idea.”

Deputy Chief Executive Paul Liversidge, who oversees the volunteer development team leading on this project, said: “The safety of all staff and volunteers working for and supporting our service is paramount and we’re doing all we can to protect them and the patients we serve during the current Coronavirus pandemic. Introducing these screens is the next step in helping us do this.

“We are very grateful to Bob for trialling the screen for us and, with his help, we have been able to tweak the design to suit our needs. We’re now also investigating whether the screens could be modified further to make them suitable for some of our other vehicles.”

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.