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They are some of the most successful and dynamic volunteer groups in the New Forest, but now the Community First Responders from Bransgore, Fordingbridge, New Milton and Ringwood have joined forces to ask for more volunteers to come forward and make a lifesaving difference to local New Forest communities.

The need for volunteers is particularly acute in Fordingbridge and Ringwood. After having as many as 15 volunteers at its peak five years ago, the Fordingbridge CFR group is now just down to one for the town’s population of 6,000. Over in Ringwood, there are currently only two community first responders for the 14,500 population.

Co-ordinators from the four groups met recently to share ideas and to take the opportunity to discuss how they could get more volunteers from their areas. One initiative to target a new audience, was to create a series of short videos which have been posted on social media, where three of the co-ordinators talk about the CFR role, the commitment required and how almost anyone who is reasonably fit and a car owner can volunteer.

The videos can be found here: Ringwood CFRs, New Milton CFRs, Bransgore & Fordingbridge CFRs.

Penny Smith, CFR Scheme Coordinator for New Milton, said, “We have six volunteers all doing a great job at the moment but I would like to get more so we can provide an even better service in the New Milton area. There are around 27,000 people in our town so having a few more volunteers will make a big difference to the hours of cover the six of us can currently provide.”

Denis Hann, CFR Scheme Coordinator for Ringwood, said, “You need no previous experience as training is given and it’s a really rewarding thing to do. I get stopped by people in Ringwood all the time who tell me how grateful they are they the community first responders have volunteered and are looking after them.”

Community First Responders (CFRs) are unpaid volunteers who give their time freely to help save lives in their community. They are trained by South Central Ambulance Service in basic life support, the use of AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and the treatment and control of a wide range of potentially life threatening conditions.

They attend calls in their local area and provide basic life support care until the arrival of the ambulance service. When not required they remain at home or work carrying on their daily life until an emergency call comes in.

Mike Jukes, CFR Scheme Coordinator for Bransgore, said,” In the four New Forest communities we need people who can cover a few daytime hours during the week or at weekends. Although the role is unpaid, the training and support we get from the ambulance service is first class. All the group members are there to support one another and the beauty of this type of voluntary work is that you only go out when you get a call. You carry on with your ordinary life until then. This really is about providing a critical service for the community, by the community.”

The groups all operate under the umbrella of the South Central Ambulance Charity and rely on donations from their communities to operate.

Nic Morecroft, Lead Community Response Manager for South Central Ambulance Service, said, “I am pleased to be able to support these very proactive New Forest groups who continue to help their local communities providing life saving interventions and would welcome any new volunteers to our team.”

Anyone who may be interested in becoming a community first responder in Bransgore, Fordingbridge, New Milton or Ringwood should leave a message on 0844 500 9699 for an informal chat or email for more information. You must be over 18 and of good character with use of a car, physically fit and be prepared, after training, to be on-call in your area for a minimum of twenty hours each month.