If Lincolnshire didn’t have us, they would miss us. That’s the verdict of LIVES Marketing and Fundraising officer Stephen Hyde as he reflects on a busy year for the volunteer service.
In November alone, the Lincolnshire Integrated Voluntary Emergency Service attended more than 1,500 call outs in support of East Midlands Ambulance Service.
During 2013, volunteers were called out across the county more than 15,000 times to those in need of medical assistance.
“Our aim is to be there within six minutes,” Stephen said. “Our average at the moment is six minutes and 42 seconds, which we are pleased with.
“In November we were called out to 234 calls regarding chest pains, 205 for breathing problems, 196 falls and 167 people unconscious.
“We had to use the defibrillator 14 times, and six people we used it on survived - that number would have been a lot lower if we didn’t get there.”
LIVES has over 640 first responder volunteers on the books across the whole of Lincolnshire and a further 54 active medics who volunteer as part of the service.
Stephen said: “We aren’t just here to get there before the ambulance crew does.
“When they arrive we can help take equipment out of their vehicle, liaise with relatives or make sure that the house is secured if they need to be taken to hospital.
“Lincolnshire needs LIVES, there’s no doubt about it.
“With the layout and road network in the county it’s vital that responders in rural areas can get to people who need us.
“You can never have too many volunteers either.”
Anyone wishing to become a first responder for LIVES must undergo a three day training course as well as spending time with their local volunteer group.
“We don’t just throw people out into the deep end when they join us,” Stephen added. “We have ongoing training and then you sign on to the rota for your area as and when you are available - we don’t force people to spend time volunteering for us.
“There may only be 20 or 30 call outs a year in the rural villages, but it’s important that we are there.”
2013 was the first full year that LIVES spent in its new headquarters in Horncastle and the organisation has introduced a number of schemes including a First Aid at Work scheme and the introduction of first aid training in local schools.
“People have taken on board the fact that we are high-level trainers, and businesses and schools who want our help have come forward.
“We have done CPR training at both of Horncastle’s secondary schools, Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School and Banovallum School.”
Stephen said that in Scandinavian countries the survival rate of someone collapsing in the street is approximately 40 per cent because first aid and CPR is taught in schools from a young age.
“Here, the percentage is more in the region of five per cent because some people aren’t sure on what to do or are scared to approach a situation like that.”
When asked about the future of the organisation Stephen said: “We have plans for expansion, but unfortunately we have a funding shortfall which is holding these plans back.
“We want to be able to send medics to roadside collisions, we need to have responders who are fully trained and equipped.
“We are very careful with how we spend our money but we appreciate we are in a recession - considering the recession I’m pleased with where LIVES is at the moment.
“For 2014 we are very keen for people to volunteer for us as fundraisers. They could make a massive difference to our organisation.
“We make a substantial difference to people in Lincolnshire, but one of our biggest problems is raising awareness.
“Some people believe we are part of the ambulance service, which we aren’t. We’re a separate organisation.
“If someone donates to LIVES they know that they are helping an organisation in this county. If you donate locally to some charities there is no guarantee that the money is going to stay to help people in Lincolnshire.
“Most donations come from people after we visit them.”
If you are interested in volunteering for LIVES visit the website www.lives.org.uk or call 01507 525999 for more information.