A team of volunteer emergency responders (ERs) have helped hundreds of seriously ill patients in a trial.

The volunteer ERs have been operating out of Crawley and Horsham since last March.

The scheme works in a similar way to South East Coast Ambulance service’s (Secamb) volunteer community first responders, who are trained by the trust to respond to emergencies in the areas where they live and work.

It means they can deliver care to patients in the minutes before ambulance crews arrive.

Rather than being based from home or work, the ERs, who have undergone additional training, book on for a shift and operate out of a Secamb base or standby point.

There is also a team operating from Ashford, Kent.

Together, the 21 ERs have been dispatched to over 1600 incidents including 281 immediately life-threatening category one calls.

They have volunteered more than 9000 hours, operating on dedicated vehicles equipped to respond on blue lights and sirens.

The teams have also responded to hundreds of non-life threatening incidents including to patients who have fallen.

The West Sussex ERs have attended 171 category one incidents with an average response time of 6 minutes 58 seconds.

Secamb head of community resilience, David Wells said: “With both of our ER teams now having been operating for more than a year, I would like to say a very big thank you to every volunteer for their dedication to this important project.

“While we will need to formally evaluate the trial, the volunteers involved have shown they are very capable of responding to patients in this way.

“The ERs complement our community first responders offering and help to ensure our patients, including those in an immediately life-threatening condition, receive the treatment they require as quickly as possible.”

Dan Garrett, operating unit manager for Gatwick said: “We are very fortunate to have the ERs working in our area. Their availability and option to respond under emergency conditions is of real benefit as we look to strengthen our response to our most seriously ill and injured patients.”