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Sacked first responder Godfrey gets a reprieve
A VOLUNTEER ambulance worker, sacked for speeding on his way to a call-out, has been given a second chance to take on the role again.
Godfrey Smith has been told he can become a community first responder (CFR) again if he completes a driver training course.
Mr Smith, 64, was let go after 15 years as a CFR when it was discovered that he had driven at 33mph in a 20mph zone in High Street, Oxford, in July.
The Faringdon resident – who works as a first aid trainer – was on his way to help a man in St Clement’s with breathing difficulties.
First responders are trained volunteers who often get to nearby emergencies before paramedics, to give life-saving treatment.
Mr Smith thought he was in a 30mph zone – as shown on the sat-nav that had been provided by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS).
He pulled into a central recess at the lights, by Longwall Street, to ask if an RAF team was also attending the incident. He then briefly drove on the wrong side of the road around the recess, for which he was also censured.
He said the RAF team complained and his sat-nav was checked, showing he broke the speed limit.
Last night he said: “I am over the moon I’ve got a second chance.
“I have got to do driving re-training and have a reassessment – not that I had any driving training in the first place.
“Then, hopefully, they will reconsider me for duties – subject to me successfully passing this reassessment.”
He added: “I have got to submit to whatever they want me to do, or else they will never let me back.”
More than 1,700 people signed a petition calling for his reinstatement after Mr Smith was featured in the Oxford Mail and other national media. He said: “What I did was wrong. I have never said it wasn’t. But there were mitigating circumstances.
“I am just frustrated it has taken so long. If they had done this in the first place, then I could have been back responding two months ago.”
The Oxford Mail’s OurView column said last month’s SCAS ruling “smacks of the spineless backside-covering that is all too prevalent in some our public services”.
Mr Smith said: “I want to thank the Oxford Mail team for their support.”
Mr Smith, known to friends as “Gof”, met with SCAS chief executive Will Hancock last week. Mr Hancock said Mr Smith had been let go because of “serious traffic offences”.
He added: “SCAS deals daily with the tragic consequences of road traffic collisions and takes issues of road safety extremely seriously.
“In response to an appeal by Mr Smith, we have undertaken a review.
“In recognition of his valued service Mr Smith has given the trust and local community over a number of years, we have agreed a process of retraining and reassessment with him.”
SCAS previously said CFRs “are expected to obey all road traffic laws and are not afforded any exemptions, even when en route to an emergency situation” and this had been made clear to all volunteers.
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