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Newcastle medical students volunteer as first responders

Written by News

Medical students at Newcastle University have volunteered their time to become the first North East University based team of Community First Responders, in partnership with the North East Ambulance Service.

Community First Responders are trained volunteers who are dispatched by the North East Ambulance Service, an NHS trust, to deal with emergencies prior to the arrival of an ambulance. Although dispatched at the same time, First Responders are situated nearer to the emergency (calls come from within a six-mile radius of their location), and so they usually arrive before the ambulance does. In the crucial first minutes of an emergency they can therefore provide early intervention. Community First Responders say their aim is “to provide immediate care to a patient where every second counts.”

Although dispatched at the same time, First Responders are situated nearer to the emergency (calls come from within a six-mile radius of their location), and so they usually arrive before the ambulance does.

The new scheme hopes to provide lifesaving support to people in an emergency, whilst also allowing medical students to actively support the NHS, which provides their medical training. Throughout the week, pairs of students will volunteer their time across shifts, providing a uniform service daily.

The 25 successful applicants for the position underwent a competitive written application and interview process. They have since taken part in a two-month long training programme provided by the NEAS, as well as receiving training from medical specialists.

Launched in January, “in time to assist with the increasing number of calls due to winter pressures on the NHS” according to Clinical Operations Manager Gareth Campbell, the scheme involves the North East Ambulance Service, Newcastle University and Newcastle University Student’s Union. NUSU was first approached by lead volunteer, Ollie Kirby, in early 2018, and has since helped the service by providing support in the recruitment of students; uniforms; health and safety, and the use of their electric vehicle during shifts.

the scheme involves the North East Ambulance Service, Newcastle University and Newcastle University Student’s Union.

Ollie Kirby said: “I used to work for London Ambulance Service before moving to Newcastle to study medicine, which is why I was motivated to work with the North East Ambulance Service to set the initiative up. It’s taken a lot of hard work from NEAS, the University and the Student Union, but everyone has been very supportive and it’s a truly collaborative project.

“Fundraising will take place over the coming year to secure a dedicated service vehicle which would allow for more students to be recruited, more shifts to be staffed and more 999 calls to be attended.”

NUSU’s Volunteer Development and Employability Manager, Katie Blundell, commented: “From our first meeting with Ollie we knew this was an amazing project to be involved with and support the development of. Throughout, I have been impressed by the desire of the student volunteers to support their NHS colleagues, and to express their gratitude to the general public who are instrumental in their medical training, by providing this service to the local community.”

Last modified: 10th February 2020

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