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South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) is delighted to announce that the Bishop’s Waltham Community First Responder Scheme has been honoured with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the highest award a voluntary group can receive in the UK.

Community First Responders (CFRs) are trained by SCAS to respond to emergencies in their local communities. Their equipment, uniform and training is funded through voluntary donations to the South Central Ambulance Charity.

The Bishop’s Waltham CFR Scheme has been operating for over 17 years and serves a population of around 15,000 in South Hampshire. Volunteers come from all walks of life, sometimes without any prior first aid training. They are all fully trained and equipped to respond to some of the most time critical emergencies, such as cardiac arrest, stroke, breathing difficulties and heart attack.

Scheme Co-ordinator, Andrew Brown, said:

“It is a fantastic honour to receive such a high level award and know that what we do is recognised and appreciated.”

Between April 2019 and March 2020, Bishop’s Waltham CFRs were sent to 672 emergencies, arriving before the first ambulance on 594 occasions. Eight of these emergencies were cardiac arrests and many others were incidents where the early commencement of emergency medical treatment by the CFRs made a critical difference to the patient.

SCAS has over 650 community first responders and 200 co-responders across the South Central region. Managed by the Community Engagement and Training Team, they are all highly trained to deal with a wide range of emergencies as well as supporting vulnerable and elderly people in their community, supporting concerns for welfare incidents and cases where patients are uninjured following a fall, but are unable to get up.

Nic Dunbar, Head of Operations – Community Engagement and Training, at SCAS, said:

“This is the fourth of our community first responder schemes to achieve this prestigious award and we are extremely proud and delighted for the Bishop’s Waltham CFR Team. All our volunteers are incredibly important to us at SCAS and we would particularly like to take this opportunity during Volunteers Week to thank them for everything they do.”

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 Notes for editors:

  1. South Central Ambulance Charity exists to raise funds that are used to support South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS)
  2. The Charity funds services and equipment that are additional to the core NHS services that SCAS is funded to provide
  3. South Central Ambulance Charity operates across the SCAS region of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire
  4. A key aim of the Charity is to support the c1000 community first responders and co-responders volunteering across the South Central region
  5. The operational area of SCAS covers approximately 3,554 square miles with a residential population of over 4 million