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Ambulance Service Drive for New Volunteers

08 September 2014

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust (YAS) is looking for additional volunteers for its Volunteer Car Service which clocked up over 500,000 miles last year, helping patients to reach their vital hospital appointments across the region.

Volunteer Car Service drivers come from all walks of life and volunteer as and when they have some free time to collect and drive patients to important outpatient and clinic appointments. Over 80 drivers currently donate their time to the scheme, covering over 20,000 journeys each month, but there is no minimum time requirement to get involved.

Jo Halliwell, Associate Director of the Patient Transport Service at YAS commented: “Our Volunteer Car Service drivers offer a valuable service to the Trust, supporting the wider work of our non-emergency Patient Transport Service and helping eligible patients to get to and from essential medical appointments.

“The scheme offers the opportunity to make new friends, learn new skills, face new challenges and gain experience volunteering in the NHS. Many of our volunteers have made lifelong friends through their work at the Trust and list meeting new people and doing something worthwhile to help others as some of the key benefits of getting involved.”

To join the Trust’s Volunteer Car Service, you need to be aged 18 or over, hold a valid, full UK driving licence with no more than three penalty points, have access to a car with a minimum of four doors, be happy to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check and have an occupational health screening.

Full training is provided and volunteers are reimbursed for the cost of miles covered under the scheme.

Jo Halliwell added: “Our volunteers covered over half a million miles last year, mainly in Yorkshire and the Humber but also including a handful of trips to Exeter, London, Guildford and Scotland – a truly amazing result and something that is greatly appreciated by both the Trust and our patients.

“We are aiming to increase the number of volunteer drivers to around 250 by spring 2015 so we can extend the service to more patients who need help in getting around. We’d love to hear from anyone interested in joining the scheme and making a real difference to the lives of patients in Yorkshire and the Humber.”

For more information on joining the Voluntary Car Service, visit http://www.yas.nhs.uk/Volunteering or contact the team on 01924 584019 / PTSvolunteers@yas.nhs.uk

Busy father of five and qualified Paramedic Mark Wright knows only too well how volunteering for Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) can lead to bigger, better things – including a full-time career on the frontline emergency service.

Mark and Matthew Wright

Mark lives in Scarborough and offered his services as a Volunteer Car Service (VCS) driver when he moved to the area from the Midlands in 2001. Mark owned his own taxi company at the time and a friend suggested the role as a way of getting to know the area, meeting local people and building links with the local communities around his new home.

It was while volunteering for YAS that a member of the team suggested that Mark consider joining the Service as a full-time PTS Driver. Two years later Mark was wearing a YAS uniform and driving the Trust’s vehicles as an employee.

Mark remembers: “There’s no minimum time that you need to commit to be a VCS driver, but I found that I was enjoying it so much that I was driving pretty much full-time. It was a great way to learn the local geography and meet some great people, it was really rewarding and when the opportunity came to make it a more permanent career I jumped at it.”

Mark’s work with the PTS sometimes saw him joining accident and emergency crews on urgent calls and it was whilst offering this support that he took his next career step with YAS.

In 2004 Mark began training as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) as part of the emergency service, which he then followed up with additional training that saw him qualify as a Paramedic in 2010. He’s been saving lives for the Service ever since.

Mark commented: “I didn’t volunteer so that I could have a career with YAS, I did it because it sounded like a good idea at the time and I enjoyed the variety, the travelling and meeting people. I remember a friend saying to me at the time, ‘volunteering? Where’s that going to lead you?’ and I think it’s safe to say even I didn’t appreciate just how far it would take me in the long run.”

As well as being a busy dad of five and a full-time Paramedic, Mark still finds time to volunteer as a Community First Responder, also for YAS. He’s set up two CFR schemes in Hutton Buscel and Snainton, both of which he co-ordinates. He has also raised hundreds of pounds to equip his local communities with defibrillators and was recognised as Volunteer of the Year in last year’s North and East Yorkshire CFR Awards.

Mark’s first steps as a VCS driver with YAS have had a further reaching impact on his home life too. Mark’s eldest son, Matthew, aged 20, joined the PTS as an apprentice last year and both work out of Scarborough Ambulance Station.

Mark added: “It’s turned into a real family affair. It’s certainly not something I ever anticipated when I signed up originally, but I still look back on my days as a volunteer driver fondly and it has led to a lifelong career and the opportunity to really make a difference to our local community. Working alongside Matt isn’t too bad either!”

Produced By: Corporate Communications Department