“It’s the best job in the world.”
Those are the words of Dave Jones, described by his colleagues as an “unsung hero” who works behind the scenes training hundreds of volunteers to save lives in the region.
The 50-year-old community defibrillation officer, based at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service’s (YAS) headquarters in Wakefield, was put forward for praise as part of the YEP’s We Love Our NHS campaign.
Launched last week, the campaign aims to give some love to our region’s hardworking NHS staff and we’ve been asking you to nominate your heroes for praise.
Mr Jones, who lives in Ossett, Wakefield, pulls on his uniform every day because he loves the job, not for recognition, he says.
Nevertheless, the dad-of-four was nominated for praise by a fellow YAS colleague, emergency care assistant and community first responder co-ordinator Sean Ridley.
Under his management role, Mr Jones looks after a cohort of about 450 community first responders, trained volunteers who attend emergency calls received until ambulances arrive, and works with four trainers who manage them.
Mr Ridley began as one of those volunteers, and with the guidance of Mr Jones, is now a full-time member of staff.
“Dave is tirelessly dedicated to his volunteers and the support and guidance he gives is second to none,” Mr Ridley said. “He constantly works more hours than expected and his phone is never off to people who need his support.
“I feel that because he is often ‘behind the scenes’ with his role, and not directly frontline staff, that he definitely an unsung hero.”
Mr Jones, now a granddad-of-five, said he was taken aback by the praise from colleagues.
“I’m quite chocked up to be fair, it was a real surprise,” he told the YEP.
“We do what we do because we love it, not because we think we are going to get recognised. We want to make a difference and that’s what it’s all about.
“To be recognised for what I love doing, it’s just the icing on the cake. It’s the best job in the world - I really do think that.”
Mr Jones first joined YAS as a community first responder himself in 2008. Just ten years on and he is now responsible for trainers that manage and teach hundreds of those same volunteers, every year.
“I very quickly realised that I found my vocation here,” he said.
“Just being able to go out and make a difference. A job came up at the time and someone put enough trust in me with it. From there I worked my way up to the management side of things.”
As well as his community first responder management role, Mr Jones is also responsible for community access defibrillators, which are installed in communal areas at clubs and schools, and provide a lifeline if someone suffers a cardiac arrest.
The number of those defibrillators being installed has risen astonishingly in recent years, as awareness campaigns have increased about their importance. Mr Jones is part of a team that built the number of those defibrillators up from zero to more than 1,200 today. They regularly speak to people in the community and offer advice on how they work, reassurance and technical checks. But it doesn’t stop there for Mr Jones.
Every weekend he tirelessly pulls back on his uniform, and goes back to his roots as a community first responder, providing care and help to those while ambulances are on their way.
His colleague Mr Ridley revealed that at times, Mr Jones will often carry out a full shift as a volunteer before clocking on. He said: “On top of his full time role, Dave himself will volunteer his time to respond to emergencies and often will work a full day before booking on call himself. I have so much respect for him and I am sure many will agree that he is certainly worthy of recognition, for his constant and ongoing commitment to the ambulance service and the people of Yorkshire.” Rod Barnes, chief executive of YAS NHS Trust, said: “Our staff make a real difference to the lives of many people across the region every single day. They are dedicated, caring and professional in the way they go about their jobs, putting patients’ needs first despite the many challenges they face. Nobody exemplifies this better than Dave Jones who is a tremendously committed member of staff. His friendly approach, enthusiasm and larger-than-life character are a credit to Yorkshire Ambulance Service and the wider NHS.”