Fri, 17 Apr 2020
A TADLEY woman is giving back to her community by volunteering as a medical responder for South Central Ambulance Service.
Rachel Jeans, 29, signed up to become a community first responder earlier this year, not knowing that an international pandemic was just around the corner.
Community first responders are fully-trained volunteers who attend emergency calls in the area where they live or work, delivering life-saving treatment until paramedics arrive.
This is separate from the recently-launched NHS GoodSAM scheme, which was specifically set up in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ms Jeans, who is the deputy manager of the University of Reading’s campus jobs programme, said: “I’ve always wanted to help people.
“I kind of regret not going down the medical route for my career, but I’ve always tried to incorporate it into my work, such as being first aid trained.”
Ms Jeans received her training in February, having no idea that she would soon be attending calls dressed in personal protective equipment.
She continued: “It has been strange.
“I did my first call to an elderly patient and we obviously had to wear a mask and gloves.
“Community first responders are so important, especially at the moment, when paramedics and other health professionals are being constantly called to virus emergencies.
“We bridge that gap in the community.
“If we are called out to a cardiac arrest and can be on the scene in two minutes, it can make such a huge difference.
“We can administer that initial first aid until paramedics can arrive and take over.”
Ms Jeans is part of a team of four volunteers who cover Tadley and the surrounding area.
Each volunteer is required to be on-call for around 20 hours a month, or five hours a week, although Ms Jeans said volunteers often do a lot more.
Since she began working from home two weeks ago, Ms Jeans has been managing her volunteer on-call duties around her full-time job.
“My line manager has been really supportive,” she said.
“As long as I am available for team meetings and I get my work done, they really don’t mind if I have to nip out to attend a call.”