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Researcher Robin Valkeman and supervisor Jimmy Korswagen ‘Amazing that so many people want to help each other’

20 January 2017

With their 2007 research into volunteer participation, researcher Robin Valkeman and supervisor Jimmy Korswagen made an important contribution to the development of organised first response in the Netherlands. Was it just a fad, or a future-proof phenomenon with significant societal value. They tell Stan their story.

Volunteer participation

R: Volunteer participation was on the government agenda in Den Haag too, in 2007. The question was whether this was a fad or something that we could really use in the future. How could better coverage be created without more ambulances? That was the subject of my thesis research for my Master’s in healthy psychology at the University of Twente. I carried out this research with the GHOR, the medical assistance organisation in the safety region of north and east Gelderland.


J: As a policy maker at the GHOR, I supervised Robin in the writing of this thesis. Together we worked on an investigation into people’s motivation to (not) take part in organised volunteer first response in cardiac arrest. And into the possibility to make more use of this in the future in case of emergencies or crises.


J: At the time, volunteer participation seemed like a fad. Politics was calling for people and business to find their own solutions. That all sounds great of course, but the GHOR wanted to see if volunteer participation was future-proof and actually created added value.


R: Questions included: is volunteer participation like in cardiac arrests applicable more widely? And is it something volunteers want? What are the people’s motivations to (not) sign up as a volunteer first responder. Fear turned out to be an important motivator to not sign up as a volunteer first responder. In the research, people indicated they were afraid they would not resuscitate properly or that they would have to resuscitate someone they know. .


R: In the research, I made a distinction between rural and urban areas. The expectation was that, because of ‘neighbourliness’, people in rural areas would be more willing to sign up for volunteer first response as was then organised by HartveiligWonen (Heart-Safe Living). There turned out to not any difference between rural and urban areas.

Saved a life

R: When I started this research, I was still unfamiliar with HartveiligWonen, now a part of Stan The CPR Network. I went into this research with the idea of researching why people take resuscitation training. Through HartveiligWonen I received a lot of information, and even heard that someone from my town had been saved thanks to super-fast resuscitation by volunteer first responders. Those stories increasingly convinced me of the importance of this initiative. My affection grew.


R: You get to see how happy people are that someone’s life is saved. The scale of involvement became clear in my research. Although responding was completely voluntary, the number of reactions was enormous. I found it amazing that so many people are willing to help each other. This is how I learned that volunteer first response is good and highly important work. It is really great to see how enthusiastic people get.


Since then, I have signed up as a volunteer first responder with Stan The CPR Network. During an interview with a passionate member of a working group, I was forced to admit I did not know CPR. I immediately received a free CPR training, where he made me promise to sign up as a volunteer first responder. It goes without saying that I did so immediately.