Date published: 12 February 2024

Our six volunteer car drivers, based in various locations in East Midlands, met one another and joined a full-day intensive training to familiarise themselves with their roles and responsibilities. Leading the training that day were Richard Holmes, Service Support Manager of NEPTS, and Julie Trolley, Volunteer Manager (Lincolnshire).

The classroom training included a basic introduction to EMAS and NEPTS, understanding of the eligibility assessment criteria, booking process and basic call flow, day-to-day operation, reporting system, communication channels and some administrative arrangement. They also learned how to make use of the various useful functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) to log, track and update journey effectively. They were also given their ID badges and some basics essential to support their journey, such as an EMAS magnetic sticker (for their cars), and a goodie bag containing hand sanitizer, gloves, goggles, disposable seat covers, wet and dry wipes, etc.

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Jenny Ireland, one of our new volunteers, said:

"The training day was a great opportunity to see how the service works for non-emergency patients and also to meet some staff and other volunteers. I hope I will enjoy every aspect of my new role and especially getting to know people."

"I retired from teaching 15 years ago and started volunteering a couple of years later at the Royal Derby Hospital. For about eight years I drove patients to and from the Nightingale Macmillan Unit. Since the unit’s closure I have really missed the driving and the patient contact. So I’m very much looking forward to it!"

In addition to a classroom training, they also had a chance to tour the Control Room to understand the work of call handlers and other supporting colleagues. They were amazed by the sophisticated real-time online system in resource tracking, patients’ record and data storage and how busy the Control Room was.

Richard Holmes, Service Support Manager of NEPTS, said,

"We aimed to recruit more drivers this year, and subject to response rate, we are expecting to conduct similar training once every two months. We are also looking into more engagement opportunities with our drivers to allow the exchange of ideas and learn from best practice.

"NEPTS is also involved with the national ambulance volunteering strategy, which allows for a combined approach with other trusts, sharing ideas and working practices. A big thanks to the Communications team for all the hard work in assisting with advertising and promotional material."

Prior to attending the training, the potential volunteers already completed some of the 13 online modules, including conflict resolution; infection prevention and control; moving and handling and dementia awareness. They will also go through official checks, driving assessment and basic life support training, as well as having a chance to do an observation shift with other current volunteer car drivers, allowing them to turn learning into actual practice.

Daniel Jackson, who’s expecting to support patients in Lincolnshire, expressed that this is a worthwhile opportunity to give back to the community and is looking forward to the journey ahead.

Julie Trolley, Volunteer Manager (Lincolnshire) said:

"I believe the drivers went away with a clearer understanding of NEPTS and how important their role is. It was a real benefit for our new volunteers to come and meet the team and also have a look ‘behind the scenes’. I hope they found it informative, interesting and interactive; allowing them to ask their questions as we went throughout the day. I am very pleased to see some new faces joining us."

Let’s give a big welcome to our new volunteer car drivers!