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Bishops Waltham Community First Responders (CFRs) were crowned ‘Community Responder Scheme of the Year’ at the UK Heart Safe Awards on Friday 3 November.

Alison Niven, UK Heart Safe Awards Judge, and Jake Balcombe, Bishops Waltham CFR

The Heart Safe Awards are held annually and are the UK’s leading national awards competition to celebrate organisations and employers who invest in creating heart safe environments and the acts of individuals who have saved lives while at work or leisure.

The Bishops Waltham CFRs were shortlisted alongside East Neuk First Responders, Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service, Trossachs Search & Rescue Team and Yorkshire Ambulance Service Community First Responders.

Jake Balcombe, Bishops Waltham CFR and Emergency Care Assistant for SCAS, represented the group at the gala awards evening and said:

“It was a brilliant evening and good to see all the amazing nominees. We are honoured to receive this award and would like to thank everyone in our local community who helps the CFRs in Bishops Waltham for their support. We couldn’t keep doing what we’re doing without their help.”

The Bishops Waltham CFR scheme has been running for over 15 years in Hampshire and the volunteers respond to over 500 medical emergencies in the medieval market town and surrounding villages of Upham, Durley and Swanmore.

Nic Morecroft, Lead Community Responder Manager for South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS), said:

“This is wonderful recognition for the efforts of our amazing volunteers in Bishops Waltham and I felt incredibly proud at the awards ceremony when they were announced as the winners. Their award will go some way to saying thank you for the lifesaving difference they make to their local community, everything they do for us and how highly thought of they are by the public, by SCAS and by their peers across the UK.”

The Bishops Waltham scheme is a diverse and enthusiastic group and they are always looking for new members. Volunteers would need to be able to offer a minimum of 20 hours cover in their local community per month. The exact time is completely flexible for each individual volunteer according to the existing work, family and other commitments volunteers have and does not need to be planned rigidly in advance. Volunteers can ‘book on’ and ‘book off’ if, for example, their plans change unexpectedly. All training is provided by SCAS.

To find out more about the role of a CFR:

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Photo: L-to-R Alison Niven, UK Heart Safe Awards Judge and Regional Centre Director of intu Trafford Centre; Jake Balcombe, Bishops Waltham CFR and Emergency Care Assistant.

Notes to editors:

Community First Responders come from all walks of life. If you are interested in joining SCAS as a volunteer you will need to be over the age of 18, physically fit and healthy, able to carry out effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for up to 20 minutes (after training) and be a car owner with a full UK driving licence.

Community First Responders (CFRs) receive full training by SCAS to provide life-saving treatment and if they are sent to an emergency they are always backed up with the nearest available ambulance. Every six months, all CFRs must complete training to refresh their skills and there are optional monthly training sessions they can attend too.

SCAS is currently supporting all CFRs to achieve a national qualification – Level 3 Certificate in Ambulance First Response – which will provide them with enhanced emergency medical skills they will be able to utilise prior to our ambulance crews arriving on scene.