Location(s): Across the North West
Community First Responders are volunteers who give their time freely to help care for people and save lives in their community.
Responders are everyday members of the general public who are trained to deal with a wide range of potentially life threatening conditions until the arrival of an ambulance.
Very often the role they play is one of reassurance, for example in instances where someone has chest pains but in more extreme cases they can perform CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) or use a defibrillator to restart someone's heart.
First Responders provide support to the regular Ambulance Service by attending serious and life threatening 999 calls in and around the community to provide the earliest possible intervention for patients in the first few minutes until the arrival of an Ambulance.
The ambulance service dispatcher is able to send Community First Responders to a range of incidents; they are dispatched at the same time as the ambulance crews but because they are often in more rural areas can often arrive before the ambulance. In cases of cardiac arrest it has been identified that the chance of a positive outcome reduces by approximately 10% for every minute that effective CPR and defibrillation are delayed.
The scheme can be incredibly rewarding as responders could well end up saving someone's life. Many villages where schemes exist show great community spirit knowing that there are people there who could be lifesavers.
Anyone who lives or works in the North West can get involved with the scheme, whether it's to be a First Responder, or to help with other vital tasks such as fund-raising, support or administration. Volunteers do not need previous first aid experience to join their local group, as full training will be provided.
The training programme consists of three parts:
- Pre-learning: 6 online learning modules provide all the background knowledge you need to allow you to maximise the benefit of the classroom days you will attend.
- Classroom attendance: Consisting of 3 days of tutor-led instruction, discussion, practical session and scenarios to allow you to consolidate your learning and practice your new skills.
- Assessments: It is important to ensure the safety of patients that your level of competence is assessed. This is done by a selection of practical assessments and short written paper. The assessments are not designed to catch you out but to give both yourself and North West Ambulance Service the confidence that you are ready to deal with patients.
Once you have completed your assessment and become a 'live' responder, you will be required to complete a number of mandatory training modules each year and to successfully pass an annual reassessment. This is to ensure your skills remain current and to the required standards. Other development opportunities may arise that you can attend.
Incidents attended by a Community First Responder
As a Community First Responder, you will never knowingly be sent to any incident where there is any risk or danger to yourself.
You will be asked to attend incidents of the following nature:
- Abdominal pain
- Allergic reaction
- Breathing problems
- Diabetic emergency
- Chest pain
- Loss of consciousness
- Cardiac arrest
- Respiratory arrest
Whilst attending an incident you will provide care and support to the patient. You will monitor the patients pulse, oxygen level and administer oxygen if the patient’s condition requires. You will apply bandages and dressings to wounds if an injury has occurred and monitor the patient's condition whilst awaiting an ambulance. In more serious cases such as cardiac arrest, you will start CPR and if required deliver an electric shock using an automated defibrillator in an attempt to restore the heart to a normal rhythm.
In addition to the provision of care to the patient you will obtain any relevant history from the patient or family and gather items such as medication so they are available should the patient require transportation to hospital.
Should you note any deterioration in the patient's condition you will contact the Emergency Operations Centre with an update which will be passed to the ambulance which is en-route to you.