Scores of volunteers have been awarded for their dedication at the annual awards for the North East Ambulance Service.
A total of 69 community first responders, ambulance car service drivers and hospital porters, who all play a vital role in helping the trust deliver high quality patient care, were recognised.
Among them was Peterlee pensioner, John Arkwright, who received a long service award for his 25 years of outstanding voluntary contribution.
John, 72, began volunteering for NEAS as a driver in 1994 after wanting to give something back to his local community.
He said: "I get to meet different people every day, helping transport patients to and from hospital who are sometimes very poorly.
"I’ve been volunteering for 25 years and even though it can be difficult when patients don’t have a good outcome, I really enjoy meeting patients and learning about them and their families. I regularly transport some patients and I look forward to seeing them on their next journey."
Graeme Smith and David Cairns, Hartlepool Community First Responders, were highly commended for exceptional service whilst volunteering during the past two years.
The pair make up the town scheme, responding to life threatening emergencies and are highly committed to their role, dedicating over 200 hours to medical emergencies.
They have taken part in extensive training and now deliver courses to community groups. So far they have trained 365 people to deliver lifesaving CPR.
Another volunteer who was recognised was community first responder Ian Garrett from Durham, who was given the Above and Beyond Award.
Ian has volunteered for the trust for 18 years, supporting frontline staff in life saving emergencies. He has volunteered over 12,000 hours and attended to 1000 patients.
An incident that stands out for Ian is when a patient suffered a cardiac arrest at Durham University and being first on scene, he provided crucial lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to save the patient’s life before the ambulance crew and air ambulance arrived.
Thankfully a member of the public had managed to locate an automatic external defibrillator (AED), which Ian used to resuscitate the patient.
He later contacted the university which decided to list all 20 AEDs they had around the campus so they can be accessed by the public.
The NEAS volunteer development team supports the volunteers and their work has enabled the trust to become the first ambulance service to gain Investing in Volunteers accreditation.
This year’s awards ceremony, at Emirates Riverside Stadium, commended the dedication and commitment of individual volunteers that have been an instrumental support to the ambulance service.
NEAS acting chief operating officer Victoria Court said: "The service values the support of all its volunteers."
Last year 75 volunteer first responders attended 1,269 patients across the region, 25 car service drivers completed more than 130,866 patient journeys clocking up 3,830,585 miles and the volunteer porters volunteered over 5,500 shifts.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering for the North East Ambulance Service visit http://bit.ly/2wfysxe.