Who can apply to be a Community First Responder?
There are CFR schemes right across the West Midlands and Shropshire area. We invite applications from any individual who could offer a minimum six hours availability per week. It may be that there are already volunteers in your area you could join (as in Bridgnorth for example), or you could start a new scheme in a previously uncovered area. However, applicants must meet the following criteria:-
- Minimum 18 years of age
- Current driving licence
- Physically fit
- Of a caring nature
- Able to pass a Criminal Records Bureau check
- There is also an interview as part of the application process
All West Midlands Ambulance Service CFR’s are trained to at least the level of a nationally recognised pre-hospital qualification – the IHCD First Person on Scene – Intermediate Award.
The training is delivered by West Midlands Ambulance Service over four alternating weekends, and is a mixture of classroom lectures and practical exercises, leading towards an assessment weekend. The assessments consist of a written exam, and also practical scenarios where candidates are given a simulated emergency situation to deal with, complete with a “real” patient to assess and treat. (No people are harmed during this process! All of our “real” patients are volunteers who act out a role to make the experience more realistic for the trainees!).
What does the course cover?
- The pre-hospital environment (scene safety)
- The role of the Community First Responder in the ambulance service
- Patient assessment
- Airway management
- Basic Life Support (CPR and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator)
- Medical emergencies (Diabetes, breathing problems, chest pain, epilepsy, stroke, unconscious patients)
- Trauma emergencies (bone injuries, falls, burns, wounds and control of bleeding)
- Moving and handling patients
- Assisting the Paramedic (providing assistance to the full time staff who arrive on scene)
- Conflict resolution training (how to avoid or escape an aggressive or violent confrontation)
On successful completion of the course, trainees must then spend a minimum of two observational shifts accompanying either an ambulance crew or responder Paramedic, where they gain experience of actual patients and situations, and are assessed by the ambulance staff as to their suitability for the role. This is important as many volunteers who join us may only have their first experience of such situations and incidents during these shifts. It is important that prospective CFR’s are comfortable and competent in their role, and these shifts alongside experienced full time staff provide the ideal supportive environment before a volunteer is expected to respond alone to an incident.
Further support for qualified and active CFRs…
Once operational in the community, there are training requirements which must be met to maintain the FPOS qualification. In addition, there is a network in place to ensure volunteers are supported in their commitment as a CFR.
- Post Qualification Update day – annual attendance to provide skills, procedural, or policy updates
- FPOS Intermediate Course re-certification – every three years to maintain qualification
- Regular local scheme meetings – discussions and interaction with other volunteers in your area
- Monthly training seminars – presented by WMAS staff as a refresher for CFR’s (optional to attend)
- Opportunity for further observational shifts with crews to gain and refresh experience and skills
- Access to scheme co-ordinators – volunteers who are either experienced CFR’s or full time WMAS staff who act as your liaison with WMAS
- Access to the full time Community Response Team at WMAS
- Access to the same counselling and support services as full time WMAS staff
Local information for Bridgnorth area volunteers….
Bridgnorth CFR Scheme is included under the umbrella of Bridgnorth District CFR Schemes, which currently consists of Bridgnorth, Highley, Alveley, Broseley, Much Wenlock, Norton, Cressage, and Claverley. We have bi-monthly district scheme meetings held in Bridgnorth as a central point, and local individual scheme meetings as necessary.
Volunteers in Bridgnorth district are supplied with uniform consisting of polo shirt, combat trousers, soft shell jacket, hi-visibility jacket, and safety boots.