Residents and visitors to New Milton in Hampshire will benefit from a new Community First Responder Scheme which has been set up by South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS). Penny Smith is the first volunteer in the New Milton area. She will attend 999 calls where a life is deemed at risk and will provide basic life support care until the arrival of the ambulance.
The Bransgore Community First Responders and liaison officers from SCAS are helping to set up the scheme and are looking for individuals like Penny who are prepared to help and support their community in this way.
Community First Responders (CFRs) are unpaid volunteers who give their time freely to help save lives in their community. They are trained by SCAS in basic life support, the use of an automatic external defibrillator (AED) and the treatment and control of a wide range of potentially life-threatening conditions. They attend calls in their area and take care of patients until the arrival of the ambulance service response. When not required they remain at home or work, carrying on their daily life until an emergency call comes in.
Penny Smith, the New Milton Scheme Co-ordinator, said: “A prompt response by a trained individual with a defibrillator really can save lives. I hope that other like-minded people will come forward to join me, so that we can establish an effective CFR group for New Milton, capable of providing cover for many hours each day.”
Terry Kane, SCAS Community Liaison and Training Officer for Hampshire, said:
“Community First Responders (CFRs) are extremely important. Because each CFR lives or works in their ‘patch’, they can often reach a patient a few minutes earlier than an emergency ambulance. They have the skills and equipment to immediately begin assessing and treating the patient before the paramedics arrive and those few minutes can make all the difference between life and death.”
Bransgore Responder Group Co-ordinator, Mike Jukes, whose group has provided the vital medical kit to start the New Milton scheme, said: “We are really pleased to see a new scheme start up in New Milton and we are very happy to support Penny as she gets going. We now need more volunteers to come forward to join her.”
Community First Responders come from all walks of life. If you are interested in joining 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. Volunteers must be able to commit to be on call for a minimum of 20 hours each month, which can be arranged flexibly around existing work, family or other commitments.
Community First Responders (CFRs) receive full training by South Central Ambulance Service 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.
Speaking about how she hoped the scheme would develop, Penny said: “We need some really committed individuals who care about their local community and who want some very rewarding voluntary work they can undertake at times that suit their lifestyle. No previous medical experience is needed as all training and support is given. The motivation to be a CFR must come from within. It gives you the chance to make a huge difference to someone needing vital help who could even be a relative, neighbour or friend. We would like to hear from people who think they have what it takes, commitment, compassion and a willingness to help others at a time of crisis.”
Those interested in learning more about the role of Community First Responders, or volunteering for the New Milton group should call 0800 587 0207 or email firstname.lastname@example.org