Being a Heartstarters volunteer - Great Western Air Ambulance Charity
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Clinical crew get Jubilee Medals
May 31, 2022
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June 7, 2022

Being a Heartstarters volunteer

Are you a healthcare professional wondering how you can put your skills to good use as a volunteer? Do you want to make a real difference in your community?

Pino and Laura, two of our lovely Great Western Heartstarters volunteers, are united in their passion to educate the next generation in lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) skills. We asked them why they wanted to volunteer and what they get out of it.

Read on to learn what being a Heartstarters volunteer is all about.


Giuseppe Giannitti, aka Pino

Emergency Care Assistant — South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT)

Hi, I’m Pino. I first got involved with Heartstarters when I saw an advert at work requesting volunteers. I’m a strong believer that CPR needs to be taught at school. When I’m doing a Heartstarters session and I ask the students what number they should call in a medical emergency, they’re not even sure. There’s a real need for this in education.

For the last four years I’ve been working in a double-crewed ambulance and a rapid response mental health car. I respond to any type of medical emergency and sometimes I assist the Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS). I fit Heartstarters volunteering around my day job; I basically do it on my days off.

I’ve been volunteering with Heartstarters for a few months’ and I’ve helped at five or six sessions in that time. I lead the sessions and help show the children how to administer CPR.

“Being a Heartstarters volunteer is satisfying and fulfilling, and I feel proud of myself for doing it!”

It feels great being a Heartstarters volunteer. I’m helping in my community and educating the next generation and giving them the tools to save lives. I’m part of the circle of saving lives. And I get really good feedback from the children I train. Funnily enough, I sometimes get feedback through my colleagues at SWASFT — their children tell them, “Oh, Pino’s already taught me this and that.”

All children should be taught CPR; It will save lives. I know from my job that patients who receive early CPR stand the best chance of survival.


Laura Harvey

Trainee Nurse Associate at Southmead Hospital

I see the value in teaching children and young people CPR because I understand the beneficial impact it can have on a patient if that young person is first on the scene. Even if they don’t want to perform it themselves, I tell the children to call for help and tell someone else how to do it.

I’ve been volunteering for Great Western Heartstarters for years, way before the pandemic. I’m a trainee Nurse Associate at Southmead (I have six months left) and I do Heartstarters on my day off. I do one session every two months.

We spend an hour with each year group or class, and it can sometimes be a whole day if we train various classes.

We start each session with an introduction about who we are, and we show a video of a cardiac arrest patient’s story. We give a demo of the DRS ABC rules and the recovery position.  And then we put the children into groups for a practical. They like the practical bit!

“It feels good being a Heartstarters volunteer because I can educate young people with a life skill. A lot of the children say afterward that if they see someone in a cardiac arrest they will help or at least feel able to tell someone else to do it. Result!”


A fun thing to do with the children is to play a game at the end – the CPR Relay. We line the children up and place a dummy at the front of the line. The child at the front does thirty proper chest compressions then goes to the back of the line and so it goes on…  If I’m feeling mean I make the teachers do it too.


I enjoy delivering these life skills to the younger generation. You never know, maybe they’ll want to grow up to be doctors in the future.



Great Western Heartstarters needs you!


The training provided by Heartstarters’ volunteers gives children the confidence to act should they come across someone who needs CPR. Passing on lifesaving skills means inadvertently saving more lives without actually being at the scene — it’s a wonderful thing to do.

So far this year, 41 people have volunteered to run Heartstarters sessions, donating many hours of their time. We’re always on the lookout for volunteers. We need to ensure that we can continue to provide this lifesaving training across our whole region.

Find out more.


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