THE SOUTH'S paramedics are to benefit from hundreds of thousands of pounds to support a number of new projects.

South Central Ambulance Charity has been allocated £410k by NHS Charities Together to help support a number of innovative projects across South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).

These include pioneering training programmes for Community First Responders (CFRs) and care home staff, as well as 17 new LUCAS 3 mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) devices.

The funding forms part of a wider £7 million investment by NHS Charities Together in ambulance services across the UK announced today.

It means South Central Ambulance Charity can embark on a project that will see SCAS become the first ambulance trust in the UK to train an enhanced group of CFRs to perform diagnostic tests including electrocardiograms (ECGs) and urinalysis to support accurate and early diagnosis.

CFRs are members of the public trained to support the ambulance service primarily by responding to medical emergencies and sometimes providing lifesaving first aid to patients before paramedics arrive.

They also assist with ongoing patient care at the scene and attend more than 30,000 incidents every year. They are funded solely by South Central Ambulance Charity, which provides equipment, training and is responsible for the vehicle fleet.

There are currently more than 1,200 CFRs and Co-Responders – these are members of the fire service, police, coastguard and military who volunteer in their spare time – at SCAS covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

The funding will enable SCAS to provide support, training and equipment for care home staff to enable them to better assess when an ambulance response may be required.

Vanessa Casey, Chief Executive of South Central Ambulance Charity, said: "We are delighted to have secured this grant for the charity which has been awarded thanks to the exceptional support from the public and NHS Charities Together.

"It will enable us to increase the support we are able to give to our CFRs through life-saving equipment and further training to develop the programme, as well as supporting our staff with important equipment such as LUCAS devices."