Supporting Community First Responders

By Marc Lister Community Liaison & Training Officer South Central Ambulance NHS Trust

It’s a great feeling to help save someone’s life.  My name is Marc, I am a Paramedic with the South Central Ambulance service.  We work alongside the Community First Responders (CFR) who are volunteers trained by the UK ambulance service to attend emergency calls in the area where they live and work.  The role of a CFR is to reach a potential life-threatening emergencies in the first vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives on scene.

For the last five years I’ve enjoyed being the CFR co-ordinator for the East and South Bucks Area which means I get involved in every stage from interviewing and recruiting potential CFRs, to their training and even the fundraising activities.  I’m proud to not only be a member of the nation’s Emergency Services but also to work with these fantastic volunteers.

Being a Community First Responder not only gives you the chance to really do something very special for your community, it gives you the chance to make a huge difference to someone needing vital help who could even be a relative, neighbour or friend.  Each responder group is issued with a mobile phone so they can respond to a call from the Ambulance Service.  CFRs are called out to a variety of incidents such as cardiac arrests, strokes, diabetic emergencies, seizures and chest pains as they’re qualified to provide basic life support, administer oxygen and even use defibrillators.  Being based in the community means they can usually get to a patient within three to four minutes and are on scene before we arrive in the ambulance, especially when the incident is in a rural area.  The extra minutes really do help to save lives, increasing the patient’s chances of survival by 10% for every minute the CFRs are there before the ambulance crew arrive.

The next greatest thing to bringing in a new life is to save one.

Could you become a Community First Responder?

Community First Responders come from all walks of life. If you’re interested in becoming a volunteer you’ll need to be:

  • Physically fit and healthy
  • Able to carry out effective CPR for up to 20mins (after training)
  • Over the age of 17
  • A car owner with full UK driving licence
  • Prepared to have a criminal record bureau check
  • Sympathetic and caring
  • Willing to undertake training
  • Able to contribute a minimum of 20 hours per month.

Contact your local ambulance service for more information on becoming a CFR.