Lorna Hayes joined the ambulance service more than 13 years ago as a call handler before moving on to dispatcher and it was in the control room that she first saw what an invaluable contribution community first responders made. She soon decided to also become one herself.
“I decided to join my local group so I could give something back to the community that I had just moved to. I also thought it would be a good way for me to understand more about the role of the community first responder.
“Nearly eight years ago I moved to Cambridgeshire and took up the role of community partnership manager. I passionately believe in the value of the community first responders in delivering care to patients within the local community and saving lives so I threw myself into promoting and supporting the groups of Cambridgeshire, watching them grow from a few to many. The role is a diverse role and this diversity is what makes the job interesting.
“One minute you can be talking to the WI about the importance of a volunteer in the community, the next you can be listening to a patient wanting to tell you how much the volunteers mean to them. And then you could be spending the weekend training with new volunteers full of excitement and enthusiasm for the role they are about to undertake.
“During this time I felt it was important to maintain my volunteering role within the job, and attended many patients as a first responder, both in and out of work and continued to spend hours raising the awareness of community first responders across the county.
“You could ask why did I step away and take a regional role. Since I started my time with community first responders we have seen a change and development in the scheme, we now have 257 groups across the region and hundreds of volunteers.
“We need to ensure we can support, train and develop community first responders in areas of need, and make their volunteering experience with us the best possible. So I looked at taking on the next challenge. How can we help community first responders’ experiences with us be better?
“A typical day for me? Well there is never such a thing. We have strategic and operational meetings regularly, I represent the ambulance service nationally at national CFR manager meetings, but I am also responsible for the processes that we are developing and the overall administration of the scheme. Some days I see patients, some days I analyse the data, other days I am out meeting communities and promoting the role of community first responders.
“When I get home from a long day I sometimes ask myself why I do this job but the simple answer is I believe 100% in the role of the community first responder and their role in saving live. And if I can make their experiences better through the unseen administrative and managerial functions and promote their role within the ambulance service and the community then I have had a part to play in enabling our volunteers to save lives – that is what motivates me every day to do my job.”
For more about Community First Responder take over week which was launched to highlight the wonderful work of our volunteer life-savers and encourage more to join please visit http://www.eastamb.nhs.uk, our Facebook pagehttp://www.facebook.com/EastEnglandAmbulance, Twitter athttp://www.twitter.com/EastEnglandAmb or look out for the Twitter hash tag #CFRTakeover