Community First Responders from South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) supported the European Transplant and Dialysis Games at Radley College and Blenheim Palace in Oxford last week (21 to 28 August).
First staged in Athens in 2000, the competition has been held biannually in nine different European countries – with the games coming to the UK for the first time this year and Oxford chosen as the host city.
Competitors were all solid organ transplant recipients or kidney dialysis patients of all ages and came from over 25 countries to participate, with the week-long event – organised by Transplant Sport – closing on Sunday (28 August).
Community First Responders (CFRs), supported by the SCAS Community Engagement and Training Team, provided first aid support alongside Transplant Sport’s own medical volunteers and the medical clinic at Radley throughout the week.
CFRs are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by responding to medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive.
They also assist with ongoing patient care at the scene and attend more than 30,000 incidents every year. They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the vehicle fleet.
Last Wednesday (24 August), South Central Ambulance Charity’s Chief Executive Vanessa Casey spent the afternoon with volunteers and participants for the badminton rounds and finals.
Vanessa met some of the competitors including 86-year-old Michael Gibbons from Yorkshire who had taken part in the 5km run at Blenheim Palace the previous evening.
Michael, one of around 400 inspirational competitors, was fortunate to receive a kidney from his wife Ann and continues to keep fit, regularly training near his home.
One of Great Britain’s youngest participants was 17-year-old liver transplant recipient Oliver Edwards from Reading who also took part in the 5km and was then preparing to represent GB in the table tennis tournament.
With just a day in between to recoup his energy, Oliver explained how he hoped to be selected for the World Transplant Games to be held in Perth, Australia in 2023 after completing his A levels in maths, physics and business studies.
Vanessa said: “It was inspirational to meet some of the competitors and a real privilege to present the medals for the badminton tournament.
“We are delighted that our Community First Responders were able to support this event and provide important first aid cover.”
David Lester, Community Engagement and Training Officer, said: “Our CFRs are highly trained volunteers able to assist and offer a first response if required. They really enjoyed the competition and being able to support their local community at such an important international event.”
CFR Ashley Woodruff said: “It was great to see so many great sporting games knowing we were ready to help the athletes If they needed us. Meeting competitors from all over Europe and supporting them has been a very rewarding experience for us.”
In addition to funding the CFR programme, South Central Ambulance Charity also raises funds to enhance services, projects and equipment across SCAS and support the health and wellbeing of all staff and volunteers.