I am a Community First Responder

This week it’s National Volunteers’ Week in the UK, an annual event which takes place on 1-7 June.  It celebrates the contribution made by millions of volunteers across the UK.  We want to share the stories of some of the volunteers we are proud to work with.  Meet the Community First Responders.

By Mike Jukes

My name is Mike Jukes, and I am a Community First Responder (CFR) in the village of Bransgore in the New Forest, Hampshire.

We are volunteers trained by the South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SCAS) to attend emergency calls in the area where we live and work. We have people from all walks of life in our group and, because most of our ‘on call’ time is spent at home getting on with life, being a CFR is less of a time commitment than some other forms of volunteering.

The role of a CFR is to reach potential life-threatening emergencies in the first vital minutes before the ambulance crew arrives on scene. We respond to calls from the Ambulance Service, and are called out to a variety of incidents such as cardiac arrests, strokes, diabetic emergencies, seizures and chest pains as we are qualified to provide basic life support, administer oxygen and use defibrillators.

The Bransgore CFR group was set up in January 2006, thanks to money raised by the Bransgore Rotary Club and Christchurch Lions. The scheme covers an area of about 20 square miles around the village, which corresponds to about a 5 minute drive from the centre of the village. Initially six volunteers were trained, and the first emergency call was received on the very first night! Calls thereafter have averaged about 4 or 5 a week, and we now have ten trained CFR’s.

We rely on donations from supporters to keep going as money is needed to purchase the emergency life support equipment bag (including the all-important defibrillator) and to pay for and kit out the individual volunteers. We also have two vehicles, including a four-wheel drive capable of off-road driving.  We have a fantastic amount of support from individuals and organisations in the village that raise in the region of £5,000 every year to keep us going. Occasionally we get a large donation which helps us to buy a large item such as a car.

Being Community First Responders gives us all the chance to make a real difference in our local community. Every minute that we are with a patient before the ambulance crew arrives increases their chance of survival by 10%. There is nothing more amazing than being able to save someone’s life, especially when they might even be a relative, neighbour or friend.

Could you be a CFR? 

Do you live in Hampshire?  The CFRs are recruiting in Andover, Bransgore, Selborne, Basingstoke, Whitchurch, Tadley, Alton, Headley, Liphook, Petersfield, Horndean, Winchester, Alresford, Denmead and Totton.

Do you live in Bucks?  The CFRs are recruiting in Burnham, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, Langley, Chesham, Chesham Boys, Chalfont St Peters and Chalfont St Giles.

Do you live in Oxfordshire? The CFRs are recruiting Witney, Chipping Norton, Carterton, Charlbury, Didcot, Thame, Henley, Wallingford, Abingdon, Botley, Wantage and Farringdon.

To find out more about the role CFRS email cfr@scas.nhs.uk or visit the South Central Ambulance Service CFR website

National Volunteers’ Week – CFRs By Andy Wilson Operations & Technology Lead for Emergency Services