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NHS Volunteer Responders Blog

How GoodSAM is bringing technology and communities together during COVID-19

As you may know, GoodSAM has been connecting those who ‘can’ to those who ‘need’ for around 7 years, most notably by sending nearby CPR-trained volunteers to give first aid to victims of cardiac arrest until an ambulance arrives. (This is separate from the NHS Volunteer Responders programme so you won’t receive these alerts.) It is this geo-location matching of volunteers with people near them who need their help that led to GoodSAM’s involvement with the NHS Volunteer Responders programme.

The programme was rapidly set up by the NHS in the first days of the pandemic. GoodSAM and Royal Voluntary Service were each brought on board because of the specialist skills they could provide. Over the past year NHS Volunteer Responders has revolutionised the concept of ‘micro-volunteering’, enabling you amazing volunteers to fit volunteering into your lives by choosing which hours you can be on-duty each day. The programme has developed to support the changing needs of the NHS during the pandemic and has been an incredible success thanks to you – the volunteers - who have carried out more than 1.6 million acts of kindness over the last 12 months.

The GoodSAM app for NHS Volunteer Responders has been further developed during the year to support changes in the programme and make things as easy as possible for volunteers and referrers. One of these changes was for the new Steward Volunteer role. Our Steward Volunteers need to see forthcoming shifts in their area for several weeks in advance, and this required new functionality in the app. The system is complex and we continue to evolve this.

For example, we know it would be great for local volunteers to receive a push notification about tasks however, it would be unfair if these always went to those closest. Another consideration is that if hundreds of people were alerted to a need of one or two people, there would be a great many people who would miss the opportunity to accept the tasks. Therefore, we have developed complex algorithms that will ensure such requests are fairly distributed so that those who are eager to help have the opportunity to do so.

But GoodSAM has been doing much more during COVID-19! GoodSAM is also a platform used by many ambulance and police services to open a caller’s smartphone camera. This enables them to see the patient and the scene, and this has been game changing in terms of helping people as quickly and effectively as possible during an emergency.  For example, services can see how a patient looks, how big a burn is or the nature of a rash. Patients with COVID-19 can be monitored at home where appropriate.

Police services are using GoodSAM to be able to see incidents immediately and forward that video to colleagues who are rushing to the scene to provide evidence and situational awareness. Many lives have been saved through this already. Superintendent Chris Bowen explains the benefits of the GoodSAM system in this video produced by West Yorkshire Police.

It is an exciting time in the development of GoodSAM’s services! Over the coming months we plan to expand our wider volunteer network system and recruit even more people to help provide CPR and the use of defibrillation for people who suffer a cardiac arrest when they are at home, work or in the community. This is vital as the survival from out of hospital cardiac arrest has fallen by half during COVID-19.

Once again, we thank you for all you have been doing to support those around you during COVID-19 and we hope that over the coming months, you continue with your volunteering and come with us on this journey to provide even greater care to your local community.

To find out more about GoodSAM’s other services, visit

Ali Ghorbangholi OBE
Co-founder and Technical Director of GoodSAM

Ali Ghorbangholi

26 March 2021


Print entire guide Page last reviewed: 26 March 2021

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