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Hundreds of St John’s Ambulance volunteers offer to help at new Nightingale hospital

MORE than 750 St John Ambulance volunteers have offered to help at the new Nightingale hospital set up in east London to meet demand for intensive care beds as the coronavirus spreads.

Up to 200 first aiders per day will assist at the hospital set up in the ExCel exhibition centre.

Volunteers will be needed day and night, with 100 on each shift.

The 143-year-old charity has about 8,500 regular volunteers and provides an auxiliary ambulance service, often at large public events.

Alex Davies, 32, who has 15 years’ experience with the organisation, will lead the St John volunteers at the Nightingale.

“Many of our people are advanced first aiders so they already have skills administering medical gasses and doing various other bits and pieces and using diagnostic equipment,” he said.

“I think all of us have a feeling of some trepidation because we are going to deal with a situation we haven’t had to deal with before.

“And also enormous pride that we are going to be a part of the response that is going to make a huge difference for these patients.”

St John said it was in the midst of an unprecedented training push of more than 1,000 volunteers to ready them for front-line work alongside NHS staff as the pandemic deepens.

NHS chief nursing officer for England Ruth May said she was delighted at the charity’s offer of help, adding: “We cannot win this battle against the virus alone.”

Three-quarters of a million people have also signed up as volunteers to help vulnerable people who are self-isolating for 12 weeks.

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