Community first responder scheme in Northamptonshire keeping our frontline crews on the road

Community first responder scheme in Northamptonshire keeping our frontline crews on the road

a community first responder wearing uniform and protective face mask and gloves stood at open vehicle that has PPE inside.
A community first responder delivering essential PPE to a station in Northamptonshire

Due to COVID-19 and to protect our community first responders, restrictions on which patients they could respond to were implemented early on in the pandemic. This meant that there were fewer patients in their local communities they could respond to.

As a result, with support from our Northants Emergency Service Volunteers and the EMAS Fleet team, CFR groups in Northamptonshire began helping our service in a different way – by delivering vital personal protective equipment (PPE) to our ambulances and fast response cars at station across the county in a scheme called PPE2Vehicle.

This was no easy task as the six CFR groups had 10 ambulance stations to visit to replenish PPE on a regular basis to ensure ambulance crews had the right protection. Therefore, the CFR groups were divided into north and south to ensure full coverage of the county.

Shane Rouse, co-ordinator for the East Northants CFR group, co-ordinated the delivery of PPE to stations across north Northamptonshire.

He said: “A lot of the CFRs had found themselves furloughed from their full-time jobs and so they have chosen to do something with their free time to help the NHS in the battle against this pandemic.

“The CFRs are great for replenishing PPE for crews as they know the back of the ambulance like the back of their hands.

“While the numbers of patients we are able to respond to has reduced, our aim with the PPE2Vehicle scheme is to keep crews out on the road so that they can keep responding to patients when they need them in a medical emergency.”

Mark Taylor, who is a CFR for the South Northants response group co-ordinated the delivery of PPE to stations across south Northamptonshire.

He said: “We were targeted with replenishing roughly 140 vehicles across Northants every two days. In June we were asked to extend this to also cover Leicestershire ambulance stations visiting the same set of vehicles and replenishing them as well, this was for weekends only.

“It was a stretch, as this doubled the number of stations which needed PPE stocks replenishing, but mainly down to Shane’s determination, we managed to incorporate Leicestershire into our rota and provide cover there as well.

“We have had to do regular restock runs to Alfreton in Derbyshire, roughly once a week, to keep up with demand.

“I’m incredibly proud to have worked closely with such a dedicated team of volunteers that have gone above and beyond what was originally asked of them.

“Volkswagen group donated two VW Transporter vans for us to carry out this work and later a further two to cover Leicestershire and we couldn’t have done it without them. This was truly an amazing donation in difficult times.”

The PPE2Vehicle scheme is set to come to an end soon as the easing of restrictions sees our CFRs returning to their full-time jobs, but we wanted to take the opportunity to recognise their dedication working seven days a week to ensure a constant stream of PPE reached our ambulance crews when it was needed in Northamptonshire and Leicestershire.