Heroes helping extend the blue line

2 April 2019 | North East England

Richard Spence of LIVES

Volunteer service works alongside ambulance service to save lives.

Ambulances in Lincolnshire have to cover an area of 3,000 square miles and can struggle to meet demand. The area is large, rural and covered by roads that have one of the highest accident rates in the United Kingdom.

Thankfully the community can count on the services of the Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service – LIVES. It is based in Horncastle and is run by and for local people across the whole of the county.

More than 700 highly trained and dedicated volunteers, including 70 doctors, nurses and paramedics, are spread out around the area, meaning that crucially, they can often get to an emergency before an ambulance crew.

First responder Richard Spence is a volunteer with the charity that works alongside the ambulance service to provide vital care and give people a fighting chance in those first critical moments of a medical emergency.

Volunteers like him helped more than 22,000 people last year, arriving before an ambulance at eight out of 10 incidents.

LIVES, the TSB Local Charity Partner of the Eastgate Louth branch, works in partnership with the ambulance service. When a 999 call comes in, if there is a community first responder available they are also dispatched from a dedicated desk in the control room.

Rich is their operational support manager and a level 4 responder, which means he also can attend the most serious incidents. His role means he oversees the whole of the north of the county.

“In our rural area, our service is essential because we have amongst the longest ambulance response times in England. There is only one motorway in the county, and that makes it difficult for ambulances to get to where they need to be quickly and safely.

“Our responders’ actions save lives; they get there fast to deliver that vital immediate care to their neighbours in those critical first moments before handing over to the ambulance service.

“We think our volunteers are heroes and are proud of what they achieve. Every year we have to raise more than £1 million from public donations to keep our volunteers on the road so that they can be there for their neighbours in time of most need. We’ve saved thousands of lives in our community.”

Rich, who still volunteers, admitted he still gets butterflies when he takes a call.

“I still get that nervous feeling when a call comes, especially when it is a young person whose life might depend on you.

“I leave knowing that I am off to possibly save someone’s life. The pride and satisfaction when you do so, I can’t describe.”

He added: “We don’t do it for self-gain, we do it to give back to the community.”

The charity was recently awarded funding from TSB as part of their Local Community Fund programme. The money is being used to fund a project to teach CPR in schools. The scheme - which is being rolled out now in 6-10 schools around the county - hopes to train around 650 young teens what to do in an emergency.

Bola Gibson, Head of Community at TSB, said: “TSB is all about people helping people. LIVES is a fantastic charity that makes a huge difference to lots of people in the local area and I’m delighted we’ve been able to support their valuable work with this donation.”

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