Coming to the end of Volunteers’ Week … amazing people

Reading about this community responder from Liskeard has made me realise for the first time what these amazing people do. Coming to the end of Volunteers’ Week, I unthinkingly didn’t realise the voluntary nature of the work of community responders. But the word ‘community’ is perhaps a giveaway. If you know any great volunteers, we should love to give them a mention.

Anyway, to celebrate,  this South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) volunteer community responder is taking a well-earned retirement after helping people in need for almost seven decades.

Mike Kemp, and award-winner from Liskeard in Cornwall, began his volunteering as a cadet with St John Ambulance in 1954. He was a long-serving officer with the organisation before finishing in 2006.

Mike has been a SWASFT Community First Responder (CFR) since 2002, treating thousands of patients in and around Liskeard, Looe and Par – and saving many lives.

His legacy will continue through his son Richard who is a SWASFT Paramedic, and the new volunteers that Mike has trained.

Mike said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed being a volunteer responder. No two days of responding are the same. But it’s a privilege to be part of such a wonderful team, and know you are making a difference to people.

“Once I was called onto a train to treat an unconscious diabetic patient who attacked the guard when he regained consciousness. Another time, when I was called to a care home, I was told that the elderly resident I was treating was just asleep and the real patient was on the other side of the room!”

One of Mike’s proudest achievements was becoming the first person to defibrillate a patient in 1988.

His volunteering with SWASFT was recognised in 2018 when he was given the Volunteer of the Year accolade at the Unsung Hero Awards.

Julia Cleeland-Smith, SWASFT Community Responder Officer for Cornwall, said: “I have been amazed at the dedication and commitment that Mike has given to support patients, community responders and enhanced first aid to the public.”  Well done to Mike, and here’s wishing him a happy retirement.

CFRs are trained volunteers who provide crucial treatment in the vital first few minutes of life-threatening emergencies while an ambulance is on the way.

During Volunteers’ Week, SWAST has been celebrating the invaluable work of its 800 volunteers who respond to around 40,000 patients a year across the South West.

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