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Six new community first responder cars for the South Western Ambulance Service

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Thanks to a £128,000 grant from NHS Charities Together, patient care provided by South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust volunteer Community First Responders, will be boosted by the arrival of six new Dacia Dusters response vehicles.

The new vehicles were officially presented to the ambulance service at an event at Buckfast Abbey in Devon today, on the last day of Volunteers' Week.

Every day, volunteers from across the South West support the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) by attending emergencies within their local communities ahead of an emergency ambulance. Sometimes the difference is providing reassurance; sometimes it is saving someone's life.

In the last 12 months, Community First Responders were mobilised approximately 24,000 times, to medical emergencies such as: cardiac arrests, chest pains, breathing difficulties and patients who had fallen.

The grant was secured by the South Western Ambulance Charity as part of a collaborative project with the Trust's Volunteering and Community Services team and delivered with the support of the Fleet team.

Each car has been converted and equipped with a full Community First Responder kit including a defibrillator and observation equipment. Each car also carries a Raizer lifting chair to assist patients who have had a fall.

Will Warrender, Chief Executive of SWASFT, said:

"The funding received by the South Western Ambulance Charity is enabling us to better support our volunteers, who, in turn provide incredible support to the communities they serve.
"The six cars that are being provided through the charity will enable Community First Responders to respond to emergencies across a wider geographic area and support the training of new volunteers through observer shifts."

Zoe Larter, Head of South Western Ambulance Charity, said:

"We would like to thank NHS Charities Together for awarding us this grant. It's really going to make a huge difference and help improve the patient care delivered by our dedicated volunteers."

Ellie Orton OBE, Chief Executive of NHS Charities Together, said:

"NHS Charities Together is the national charity caring for the NHS, and we're delighted to support South Western Ambulance Charity with this project. Our ambulance services are facing pressures on a colossal scale, and CFRs provide vital support when every second counts. We hope these new response vehicles will help them reach vulnerable patients even faster in emergency incidents – and ultimately help save lives."

SWASFT has over 500 active volunteers who support the service in patient-facing and non-patient facing roles. To find out about volunteering roles at the Trust and to express an interest, please visit –

The cars will enhance the work of the Community First Responders in their communities by supporting operational requirements in the following ways:

  • Additional response vehicles to extend Community First Responder capacity and improve patient experience
  • Provided a response vehicle that allows two Community First Responders to respond together to patients across the South West
  • Volunteer training activities, such as experienced crew members taking out new volunteers on familiarisation shifts
  • For double-crewed shifts to enhance skills or to enable work with other professionals

Cars may also be used to target specific types of incidents, e.g. as a Falls Vehicle or Welfare Support Car, or to work alongside a skilled professional such as with the Mental Health Team or Home Treatment Team.

About South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT):

  • SWASFT provides emergency and urgent care across an area of 10,000 square miles – covering Cornwall & Isles of Scilly, Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Bristol, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire – which is 20% of mainland England and is predominately rural.
  • It serves a resident population of over 5.5 million people, with an estimated annual influx of more than 23 million tourists, typically dealing with around 2,650 incidents a day.
  • It employs more than 4,000 staff across 131 sites including 96 ambulance stations, and two Emergency Operations Centres in Bristol and at headquarters in Exeter.

For latest news and information, visit Follow on Twitter @swasFT and like on Facebook

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