A lecturer from New College Lanarkshire is giving up her free time to co-ordinate a vital 24-hour Covid-19 patient transport service.
Lucie Armstrong, who is a lecturer in our Faculty of Supported Learning, is volunteering with the LifeSavers Scotland charity.
Lucie co-ordinates around 100 journeys every week to help patients who don’t have their own transport to get to NHS Lanarkshire’s community assessment centres.
LifeSavers Scotland is an East Kilbride-based charity that normally provides support to NHS Lanarkshire during the out-of-hours period, including transporting medical records and blood samples.
But it has stepped up its service in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to also transport patients, including journeys for those with coronavirus symptoms, in addition to transport for patients to attend urgent, non-coronavirus-related medical appointments.
In addition to managing pick-ups and drop-offs for the service, Lucie is one of almost 30 regular volunteers who drive its four patient transport vehicles, which have been loaned to the charity by Arnold Clark.
The vehicles are fitted with a bulkhead partition to ensure driver and patient safety, and there is a strict cleaning regime between journeys.
Lucie began volunteering with the charity in March when she offered to provide free infection control sessions accredited by REHIS (Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland) via Zoom.
Lucie said: “Now that LifeSavers Scotland is transporting people, my skills proved valuable because I could provide some of the infection control training they needed.
“There is a PPE box in the vehicle containing gloves, aprons, masks, clinical waste bags, etc., so the drivers are trained to show patients how to use these and understand what a hand contact point is.
“We transport patients with symptoms from their homes to the assessment centres, wait on them while they’re being assessed, then take them back home again.
“I started doing some driving at the evenings and weekends, and that turned into being asked to take on the role of managing the Covid-19 24-hour bus transport service for Lanarkshire.
“The four buses operate seven days-a-week and can collectively do 20 pick-ups a day – so it keeps me busy! We can travel as far as Douglas and Biggar to pick up patients.
“I do handovers with the volunteers at 7am and 7pm, then I’ll volunteer to do a driving shift at the weekend, but my biggest involvement now is the admin and clerical side.”
In her role as a Lecturer at New College Lanarkshire, Lucie works with students with additional support needs at both our Motherwell and Cumbernauld campuses who have an interest in working in the hospitality sector.
At the Motherwell Campus, she is a course leader for the Coalyard project in Larkhall, in which students undertake vocational and employability qualifications alongside learning practical skills within a tearoom and laundry setting.
At Cumbernauld Campus, meanwhile, she helped establish the Wee Scone Café at St Mungo’s Parish Church Hall in Cumbernauld, which is a partnership between New College Lanarkshire, Glencryan High School and North Lanarkshire Council.
Prior to lockdown, Lucie was also undertaking motorcycle lessons with Harley’s Rider Training, under the instruction of LifeSavers Scotland’s chairman, Jim Harley.
She hopes to pass her second motorcycle test soon, which would allow her to use one of the charity’s motorcycles to help with transport of materials for NHS Lanarkshire.
She added: “Volunteering with LifeSavers Scotland is so rewarding – there are so many people who have shared lots of nice comments on the charity’s Facebook page.
“We also have a dedicated bus that transports patients undergoing treatment for cancer, such as radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
“I’m proud to be a part of this – I like that I can bring my expertise to people who maybe didn’t know about sanitising or hand contact points, or how to reduce the possibility of transmitting infections.
“I’ve been able to help so many different people who could potentially put themselves or others at risk if they travel in a taxi or try to walk to get to an assessment centre.
“I enjoy working together with different organisations for the greater good of the community. There’s definitely a feel-good factor!”
Nicola Mulholland, Assistant Head of the Faculty of Supported Learning, said: “We as a faculty are incredibly proud of Lucie’s achievements, as she combines working from home with carrying out such an important and challenging voluntary role within the community.
“We are delighted that the skills that she uses in her day-to-day role as a lecturer are being applied to help others in these unprecedented times.
“Lucie is a caring and dedicated individual who is an inspirational role model to both our staff and students.”
Graham Johnston, Head of Planning and Development at NHS Lanarkshire, has said: “I would like to send a very big thank you to all the volunteers at LifeSavers for once again giving up their time to selflessly help our patients, in what is such a worrying time for people.”
LifeSavers Scotland has for the last seven years assisted those in need by reason of age, ill-health, disability, financial hardship or other disadvantage by providing an out of hours critical transport service.
To find out more about the work of LifeSavers Scotland, please visit https://lifesavers.scot