A LONG-SERVING couple who respond to medical 999 calls before paramedics have hung up their fluorescent jackets after 11 years of service in South Warwickshire.
Mick and Barbara Shepard, who are both 64 years old, have been volunteering as community first responders in the village of Oxhill and the surrounding area for over a decade.
On call whenever they were at home, the couple, who previously worked in motorsport safety, have clocked up thousands of hours and treated hundreds of patients.
Mick said: “We have thoroughly enjoyed serving the ambulance service and our local communities but we feel this is the right time to retire. Hopefully we have made a difference to people in their hour of need.”
Mick and Barbara were in the initial batch of community first responders, trained at Shipston Hospital.
Their proudest moment came in the winter of 2009, when they saved an ambulance, its crew, and its patient from slipping down Sun Rising Hill, on the Banbury Road.
In heavy snow, Mick used his 4x4 responder truck to drive closely behind the ambulance, allowing it to fall back a couple of feet into their bull bar.
When things got too hairy, Barbara nipped out and quickly attached a tow rope.
Mick said: “Once the ambulance had come to a stop, we then decided that the best course of action was to tow them up. Having been involved in motor sport safety we had lots of kit. Barbara got out and within two minutes they were over the top of the hill and off to hospital.”
They were later honoured with a Chief Officer’s Commendation for “actions above and beyond the call of duty”. And in 2012, they each received the Queens Jubilee Medal.
Barbara thanked all the other staff at the ambulance service.
“The training and support we have received has been second-to-none, and the feeling of helping someone in their hour of need is very rewarding,” she said. “We will definitely miss responding!”
Ambulance service area manager for South Warwickshire, Martyn Scott, said: “The couple are well-known in the area by residents and ambulance staff alike and will be massively missed.
“The dedication they have shown is enormous and they should be extremely proud of their achievements.
“On behalf of the trust I wish them both well in their retirement and hope they enjoy relaxing and taking more holidays.”
But Mick is still involved in emergency services.
An independent custody visitor, he makes sure the facilities at Leamington Spa Police Station are up to scratch and checks detainees are treated as they should be.
He is also a police and crime commissioner safety ambassador for Shipston and the surrounding area.
An appeal has been made for new volunteers to become lifesaving community first responders (CFRs) in South Warwickshire.
The Ettington Community First Responder Scheme is looking to increase the number of first responders so that it can enhance the level of cover that it provides to the local communities.
Although the scheme is named after Ettington, a village five miles outside Stratford, it covers a much larger area than just Ettington and volunteers are being sought who live in any of the villages in its coverage area. These villages include Alderminster, Armscote, Crimscote, Etting-ton, Fulready, Halford, Newbold -on-Stour, Pillerton Hersey, Pillerton Priors and Tredington.
Fundraising volunteers are also required.
Their role would be to organise fundraising events and to liaise with local businesses, parish councils and community organisations to help promote the team and to raise its profile.
For more information about becoming a community first responder, visit www. wmas.nhs.uk and find the ‘CFR’ page under ‘About us’. To apply, contact the CFR admin office at 01384 215855 or e-mail CFRAdmin@wmas. nhs.uk
For more information about joining the team as a fundraising volunteer, e-mail email@example.com
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